Oct 09 - Hope Taylor
Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The al-Qaida-linked Somali Islamic group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack and seizure of Nairobi’s Westgate Shopping Mall that began on Saturday, September 21. Though the siege has ended, due to the gaping hole in the roof and collapse of several floors inside the mall, the job of clearing through the rubble and determining a final number of innocent people who died will take several days. Current USA Today reports state the terrorists “for four days tortured, maimed, and mutilated some of their 67 victims leaving a tattered scene of ghoulish, gruesome remains that investigators likened to scenes from a horror movie” (1).
Let’s be clear - this was done by the evilest of people operating from a demonically induced religious belief system that encourages the heinous torture and taking of innocent lives. Leaders in the church, civil government and communities must understand the length to which these barbaric murderers will go in their jihadist endeavors.
As followers of Jesus, as those who place high value on family, being responsible citizens in our communities and a life style that believes in freedom, what can be learned from the Kenyan massacre?
An article from OneNewsNow.com on September 24 quotes Congressman Peter King (R-New York) saying that al-Shabab recruited up to 50 people from Somali American communities across the United States. In addition the writer says, “At least two of the terrorists involved in this weekend’s horrific attack . . . had lived in the Twin Cities and were recruited by the al-Qaida linked terrorist group” (2).
Jan Markell, director of Minneapolis-based Olive Tree Ministries, stated, “In light of the Nairobi mall attack, [I am] fearful that the high-profile ‘Mall of America’ in Minneapolis could be vulnerable to a similar attack” (2).
The terrorist’s goal is to kill the innocent, terrorize communities and ignite fear in the hearts of people like a strong wind driving a wildfire through a dry canyon. Therefore, the first thing we must remember and walk in is that God has not given us a spirit of fear. We will not defeat those who market fear and “seek to be free of the restraints of God’s law in order to impose a law-order which violates God’s law” if we are captivated by fear (3).
The American church must embrace the reality that our way of thinking before 9/11 can be likened to the mindset of the Israelites when they left Egypt. God was in the process of delivering them from a slave mentality and incrementally leading them to think like free people. In order to move into the land God had prepared for them, He was preparing them to let go of their prior ways of thinking.
Reality for the American believer is we can no longer think or live in the faux reality that we are safe from Kenya-like terrorist threats. The Kingdom of God values preparation. How can we as Kingdom people be prepared for this new era of time both personally and corporately - in our congregations, communities and nation? How can we see the Kingdom more clearly given the recent massacre?
Gary North uses a phrase that is insightful for us. Exodus 13:17-22 is like a map forward as it tells the story of the Israelites being pursued by Pharaoh’s army while simultaneously being led by a pillar of cloud in the day and a pillar of fire in the night. Yes, God was leading His people forward, yet their primary motivation was not what was in front of them but what was behind them. They were being ‘driven from the rear’ by Pharaoh’s army. God uses contemporary things such as economic hardships, racism, human trafficking and terrorist threats to drive His people from the rear. While being driven from the rear is not the preferred motivation to get people to cross over, it is effective and tailor-made relative to the church’s level of maturity. The American church should pray for and assist those affected in Kenya as well as gain strategy to prevent a similar massacre on American soil.
The attacks of September 11, 2001, and beyond reveal a common and costly mistake by the agencies who are in place to protect the citizens. These agencies have not demonstrated a willingness or protocol to share intelligence among themselves. The recent D.C. Naval Yard shooting revealed a lack of agency communication concerning the killer’s mental state, culminating with his murdering of the innocent.
The church is being driven from the rear to step up our level of play in affecting culture as Kingdom ambassadors. Effective strategy mandates a high level of cooperation among those engaged in any mission - no matter the project. Cooperation on critical fronts has not been our strength in the Kingdom of God, and, like the Israelites, we must be trained in this.
Exodus 13:18 is clear that God led them in the wilderness and toward the Red Sea in what the New American Standard Bible describes as martial array. The phrase means ‘five in a rank’ and is a powerful picture. Though they were driven from the rear, the Lord was going before them and training them for their future post slavery responsibilities. They were being trained how to function as an effective corporate people. We too must learn to march as the body of Christ in our communities. The modern day isolation and disarray is much too high of a price to pay in the natural and spiritual dimensions.
Let’s look at a few key concepts which can help us march forward, cross over and possess what God has prepared for our generation.
Terrorist Prone Targets (TPT) need to be identified in our communities - government centers, public gathering places and any place people congregate that has a key role economically or psychologically. Terrorists seek to deal a psychological defeat to people with their strikes. Picture a General’s battlefield tent and his map that marks strategic places they must either defend or advance. Each city, no matter the size, needs to identify the TPT and mark them for prolonged prayer initiatives.
Prayer Task Forces (PTF) are collaborative efforts within our communities. An example that has been effective is local schools being adopted by congregations who take initiative and responsibility for sustained prayer over the school campus, students and staff. While there have been breaches of prayer security in some communities and every loss of an innocent life is tragic, this model has been successful in rallying believers together for the good of a mutual concern. Terrorism is a much higher level of threat than random acts of violence by an evil individual and, therefore, requires the church to function in a more sophisticated measure.
PTF need a broad partnering of trained prophetic-type watchmen who have demonstrated an ability to work as a team. Whereas some community prayer initiatives can be successful if each congregation adopts a prayer target, the vulnerability of this plan is not every person or congregation has the experience or revelation to deal with what’s required when combatting religious-based terrorism. Therefore, we must mobilize the more seasoned prayer veterans in a city to this assignment. Experience with the prayer movement has demonstrated at least two prayer profiles. Process pray-ers are most effective and comfortable when dealing with issues that call for repetition. Prophetic pray-ers are most effective when dealing with assignments that prioritize hearing from God and discernment. PTF can be the strongest when both types of people are involved.
Scripture teaches the need for a ‘Communication Specialist’ when God’s people are dealing with leaders and enemies who represent national level threats. When King Hezekiah was threatened by Assyria, the super power at that time who used terrorist threats designed to strike fear in the population, he deployed a Communication Specialist who would speak on his behalf to the would-be conquerors. (2 Kings 18:17-37)
There is a grace God gives to certain ones who know how to communicate in times of danger. For our immediate purposes, the point is each community’s PTF must designate someone as their communication specialist. In the critical moments when spiritual intelligence gained from the PTF must be shared with local law enforcement, we need those like Eliakim who are anointed by God for the task. The Body of Christ cannot afford to make the mistake of some homeland security agencies who operate like thugs in a gang and demonstrate territorial turf wars. The success of this strategy depends on our sharing the intelligence God has revealed with those who can address it in the natural. This is a call for high level partnership between the church and law enforcement.
You may wonder, how can this work in our larger cities where terrorists are more likely to strike? God always gives jurisdictions to His people who carry an authority to represent His interest in that sphere. In metropolitan cities, the strategy can be for the Body of Christ to work together within their zip codes to insure there are no vulnerable access points to terrorism.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. We are ever mindful that we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves! (2 Corinthians 4:7-9)
Let us be mindful though we are driven from the rear that God has raised up a people, set them in cities like watchmen, and He will overcome all His enemies as we partner with Him! The day is here for the prayer and prophetic people of God to operate at levels where we address state and national issues.
1. Pray concerning your city and the Terrorist Prone Targets.
2. Pray for those with an anointing and understanding of how to deal with higher level prayer assignments to collaborate.
1. Take the initiative in your city to mobilize the Prayer Task Force to address terrorism.
2. Partner with those who can teach how to pray over territorial matters and work to designate the Communication Specialist in your city.