(Map courtesy Wikipedia)
Libya (MNN) -- Four years after Muammar Gaddafi was toppled, Libya is a failed state.
A failed state
is defined as a state whose political or economic system has become so weak that the government is no longer in control. Basically, Libya is engulfed in a power struggle resulting from the leadership vacuum.
Emily Fuentes, a spokeswoman for Open Doors USA
says, "For ISIS to realize the really easy ground it was to cover, is not surprising. Secondly, it's a really strategic geographical point for them in that they are spreading beyond Iraq and Syria to other parts of the Middle East and Africa."
In short, Libya is now the beachhead for ISIS to push into Africa. Already well-established in Iraq and Syria, with affiliates in West Africa, Libya makes perfect sense for training grounds and a staging base for a global caliphate, explains Fuentes. "They are apocalyptic by nature. They believe that the acts they are committing right now are going to bring about the end of the world. [They believe that] they will be glorified in the acts that they are doing in killing all non-Muslims or Muslims who aren't strict enough in their minds." Citing their progress on several continents, she adds, "As of a month ago, and it's grown since then, there were over 40 groups that had pledged allegiance or at least a commitment to ISIS. and several were coming from the North African region."
(Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
Affiliates still had some autonomy, and not everyone bought into the new ideology. "Some of those groups still haven't sworn allegiance yet almost because there's a bit of a 'power struggle' in some of these groups." Recent moves indicate an effort to streamline, to share resources and training. "It'll be interesting to see what the bigger ones do eventually, if they either become irrelevant or if they realize that the strength would be to unite together."
With nothing to lose, how can ISIS be stopped? That's a question being approached from all sides: spiritually, emotionally, economically, and militarily. Christians find themselves squeezed between fanatical religious groups and criminal gangs. Fuentes suggests that the followers of Christ remaining in Libya are seeing something the secular world isn't seeing. "Syria, basically, [is] where it all began. Our contacts there can't even keep up with the demand for Bibles because so many people are coming to Christ."
Fuentes says that builds confidence, especially when reminded of Syria's part in the early Church. "Syria specifically stands out to me because it was on the road to Damascus where Saul had his encounter with Christ and became Paul, and became one of the greatest Christian leaders ever. That's happening today in Damascus in Syria. Pray that they could just continue to remain strong and reach out to those folks."
(Photo courtesy Open Doors)
If it could happen in Syria, it could happen in Libya. People are praying, and they're sharing some pretty amazing stories. "They're seeing God do miracles in spite of what the Islamic State is doing. They're seeing Christians loving their neighbors (who want to know more about Christ), and they're coming to Him. They're even seeing former persecutors, former Islamic extremist members, coming to Christ."
To that end, Fuentes adds, "I think the overall prayer request for Christians is to remain strong, and that they could remain a strong force in these countries just because we're seeing an amazing turnover to Christ, even from those who were once persecuting."
Based on these stories, Fuentes wonders if the unasked question is: Could Libya also be a beachhead for Christ across Africa and the Middle East?
Here's how you can help:
By supporting Open Doors USA, you enable them to provide physical help to the families of persecuted Gospel workers in these high-risk areas.
By praying, doors open. Here are some specifics:
*Pray that some semblance of peace and a stable central government will come to the country, which is a failed state.
*Pray that Muslim-Background Believers will not be targets of their families or their communities.
*Pray for God’s people inside and outside the country to encourage those Christians in the cross-hairs of Islamic militants and violence.