I was still reeling from the deadly attack on Dallas policemen when, a week later, there was a terrorist attack in Nice, France. Before I could catch my breath from that, the policemen in Baton Rouge were murdered.
"This has gotten out of control," I thought, but I had no idea how far out of control the problem of terror has become.
I've spent some time on Wikipedia over the last few days and found more information than I ever wanted to know. Their facts are well documented. These numbers do not come from the ranting of a political pundit or the rage of a fear-monger.
I'll share the information for this month, but do not be deceived. The preceding months of 2016 look no better.
In the first 18 days of this month, July 2016, there have been more than 100 "terror incidents" worldwide. At least one incident every single day of this month.
28 of those events were perpetrated by the Islamic State, with Islamic extremists committing another 8 attacks. Lest you think they are the only terrorists at work, there were attacks by Boko Haran, Taliban, Al Qaeda, PKK, and Al Shabaab, among others.
More than 1,554 people have been killed this month in terrorist events and well over 1,029 have been injured. (Dozens more are known to have been injured but not counted.)
The Islamic State is responsible for at least 1,312 of those deaths and more than 741 of those injuries.
Not counted are those who grieve, those who have fled their homes, those who cower in fear of the next attack.
We cannot continue to look the other way. This is a worldwide problem.
Police, Christians, and even Muslims considered "not Muslim enough" have been killed. Four members of a football team were killed because "football is anti-Muslim."
Is this jihad? I don't know. It looks to me as if it is killing for the sake of killing.
The terrorist organizations have a strong online presence and have been extremely effective at recruiting new members. Angry, frustrated, marginalized people are drawn into their web of terror on a daily basis.
People are hungry for something to live for, something to die for. That much should be clear to even the most casual observer.
Children of God, we have the answer.
We have something to live for, and Someone who has already died for us.
Sometimes our faith requires that we give our lives rather than denounce Christ, but our faith requires that we LIVE for Him first.
We know the One who can change everything. The One before Whom the entire world will eventually bow the knee. The One all creation will one day proclaim as King.
It's our job to be salt and light in this dark and perishing world. We may not be able to go throughout the world ourselves, but we can certainly help those who do.
What we cannot do is continue to live life as usual. We must recognize our problem and dedicate ourselves to solving it.
Of course, only God can solve this problem and His solution will require much more than guns, bombs, knives, or machetes. His solution requires the greatest weapon of all, and the most difficult to wield.
God's solution is love.
I read those words and wonder how love can be a weapon, but I know it's true. God used that very effective weapon of love on my own heart, and completely changed my life.
I saw love soften hearts and break down walls during my 24 hours at the Prayer vigil.
I've seen love change the hearts of men and women, boys and girls, over and over.
I know love can do its beautiful work again, even now.
How? You'll have to make your own plan, but here's mine. (You are, of course, welcome to adopt my plan.)
I have begun by repenting of every prejudiced, hateful, angry thought and attitude I can recognize. I've asked God to change my heart, and He has. He is.
I've asked God to break my heart with the things that break His heart. Just so you know, His heart is breaking over so very many things these days. A God-broken heart will help you see the world in an entirely different way.
As an individual, I've committed myself to making eye contact with as many people who are different from me as possible, every chance I get, and doing it with a smile attached.
I want the people I greet to know they are not invisible to me, because they are not invisible to God.
I am making an effort to speak to all those who are outside my usual circle of acquaintances. If I think someone might feel marginalized, I'm trying to speak to them.
Those are little things, but to a hurting person, they are huge beyond words.
Since all life is important to God, all life must be important to me. The born. The unborn. African. Caucasian. Asian. Middle Eastern. All. And I'm choosing that.
You may not remember when I prayed for the terrorists by name, but I'm about to start that again. If God hears our prayers, and He does, and if He answers prayers that are in line with His will, and He does, it's a vital part of our war on terrorism. I invite you to join me. We'll have a terrorist of the week again, starting one day this week. We need to pray for those leaders who are committed to peace, as well.
There are thousands of missionaries around the world, many in the most dangerous places imaginable. Your church probably supports and prays for them. (If not, I can recommend a few.) Give your prayers, your concern, and your money. Send them letters of support and encouragement.
Get involved, here or abroad, but remember, love must start at home. Love the people around you and the people of the world.
When you love everyone, you're loving like Jesus, who loved us so much that He died for us all, even when we were the least lovable.
How does smiling and greeting someone at the grocery store help with the worldwide problem of terrorism? The solution always starts with one. If each one of us does our part, we will be surprised at how quickly it spreads. Attitudes are contagious, so share a good one.
Tomorrow, we'll look at the power of just one person. We can make a difference, even with little things, so make a start. Share a smile. Open your heart.
"So now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13 esv
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's blog post: After Baton Rouge
#terrorism #powerofone #disciple