CNN Report on TerrorismNew reports are now coming out of West Africa regarding the increase of Islamic Terrorism. This week’s report includes a brutal attack by radical Muslims on an American owned Mali hotel in which innocent people were killed at random as the terrorists yelled, “Allahu akbar” (Arabic “Allah is Great”).

Steve Q&A West Africa (1)When I began training national church planters in West Africa (2006), including church planters from Mali, I had never known church leaders willing to give their lives for the sake of advancing the Gospel.

As a seminary professor I’d also never been asked the kinds of questions they asked me. Like questions regarding whether or not they should kill the Islamic terrorists who were killing their families. I’d also never wondered if the church leaders I was training might actually give their lives doing what I was training them to do among the Islamic terrorists before I returned.

Should We Pray for ISIS To Be Defeated or Converted?

Russell Moore recently wrote an article entitled, “Should We Pray for ISIS to Be Defeated or Converted?” in which he makes a case for followers of Christ to answer yes to both questions.

Moore makes the case that Christians should be praying, with the martyrs in heaven, for justice against Islamic Terrorists–especially when our own brothers and sisters in Christ are being martyred. And followers of Christ should also be passionately praying for God’s mercy toward them.

Mali Church Leader

Church planter from Mali being trained (via French Translation) by Childers in West Africa

The single most effective way for the gospel to go forward with great power into the Islamic State is through church planting. The church is the only institution Jesus Christ promises to build and bless (Matt 16).

But the only kind of churches that can bring true hope in a terror-filled world are gospel-centered churches that produce the kind evangelism, discipleship and acts of mercy that result in both transformed lives and societies.


The global war with the Islamic State will not ultimately be won in the military battles on the field but in the battles for hearts and minds.

The greatest threat of Islamic terrorism is not their rapidly accumulating weapons of warfare but their rapidly disseminating evil ideology and worldview that is now able to self-radicalize masses through social media.

This is why the gospel must be understood as not only a way of salvation but also a way of holistic transformation that includes a true ideology and worldview that is able to reshape every sphere of life–cultural, social, economic, and political–for good.

This is also why there must be a renewed focus on equipping church leaders globally to start, grow, and multiply the kinds of churches that result in authentic conversions, holistic discipleship, and acts of justice and mercy drawn deeply from a true ideology and worldview rooted in Scripture.

We’re now living in a time of war–not a time of peace.

We’re facing war on the military battlefields and war on the battlefields for hearts and minds. And war is hell. So we cannot afford to be naïve. Like all wars, there will be casualties. Some church planters called to the frontlines to establish the first kingdom outposts in enemy’s domain of darkness will be killed. The blood of Christian martyrs has always served as the seed of the church in the hardest places where it’s most needed.

From Pathway Learning video "Islamic Terrorism and Church Planting in West Africa"

From Pathway Learning video “Islamic Terrorism and Church Planting in West Africa”

So we should be praying for both God’s swift justice to be poured out against evildoers through the mission of the state (Rom 13:4) and for God’s mercy to be poured out on evildoers through the mission of the church using the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6) against the spiritual forces of evil. These are not contradictory prayers but a reflection of God’s holy justice and holy mercy displayed in the cross.

Followers of Christ are called to be a people of the cross–a people of both radical justice and radical mercy.

Christ followers are called to be a people whom Jesus commands in the Sermon on the Mount not only to hunger and thirst for justice (Matt 5:6) but also to be merciful (Matt 5:7). A people whom God calls “…to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).

So we must pray and stand against every form of Islamic terrorism that continues to ruthlessly murder thousands of innocent people. But we must also pray for their conversion and transformation–including the transformation of their ideology and worldview.

Childers praying with West Africa Leaders

Childers leading West African church planters in final prayer after their training.

Join me and begin praying with others that God would raise up a host of new converts from within Islamic terrorism who would become like Saul of Tarsus among them, transformed from being murderers to being church planting movement leaders turning their world upside down with the gospel.

These church planters in West Africa know they may not live to see the result of their ministries. But their hope and prayer is that the children and grandchildren of these terrorists will choose Christ instead of terrorism.

To learn more about gospel-centered church planting ministry in West Africa watch this brief Pathway Learning video “Islamic Terrorism and Church Planting in West Africa” taken from the conclusion of one of my recent public presentations.

PL Poster on Persecution 11-3-2015


Join with thousands of Christians around the world by watching this brief video (2:28) and then dare to pray these four requests:

1. Pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ enduring persecution today.

2. Pray for the families and friends who have lost loved ones to persecution.

3. Pray that the blood of the martyrs will be the seed for gospel-centered church planting and renewal movements among all nations.

4. Pray that these sacrifices of martyrs would lead our hearts to repentance, faith, and obedience to God’s will no matter what the cost. See Scripture below.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:34-40

Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” John 15:20a

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” Romans 8:35

“But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together.” 1 Corinthians 12: 24-26

“And we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure.” 1 Corinthians 4:12

“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.” Colossians 1:23-25

For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know.” 1 Thessalonians 3:4

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2 Timothy 3:12

Sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.” Hebrews 10:33

Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” Hebrews 13:3

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” 1 Peter 4:12-16

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, ‘O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.” Revelation 6:9-11

“And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” Revelation 12:11

If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work? Proverbs 24:12