Rasha was beyond excited as she skipped out of her house. She’d been dating Nazir for several months now and the more she was away from him, the more she longed to be with him.
She accelerated her pace as she saw the bus approaching the corner. From there it was just a short 15 minute ride to the shop where her beloved Nazir worked.
Ever since she and Nazir had met she had been praying for him. As a former Muslim who had found Jesus to be “the way, the truth and the life,” Rasha believed that Jesus would reveal Himself to Nazir just as He had to her. She thought back to how much her life had changed since accepting Jesus as the Son of God, who forgave her of her sins. Things were not easy, with her family shunning her and threatening to disown her now that she was a Christian. But she had a peace that she could not explain.
The bus came to an abrupt and startling stop, jolting Rasha from her thoughts. Sirens were going off again, signaling the potential of falling bombs or mortars. She had grown accustomed to the sirens, but she knew there was always a real threat. The bus remained stopped for another several minutes before they began moving again.
As they rounded the corner, Rasha could see Nazir’s little shop. She jumped off the bus and jogged towards the spot where she would see the love of her life. She hoped she could talk again with him about Jesus.
As Rasha approached the large glass picture window at the front of the shop, she could see Nazir inside. Her pulse quickened. Their eyes met. Smiles spread across their faces. And…
Boom!! Boom!! Boom!!
The concussion from the bombs threw Nazir across the room as the glass from the front window exploded into the shop. Rasha was gone. Those dark beautiful eyes that had always penetrated his soul were there just a moment before. But now a huge fireball marked the spot where she had stood.
Nazir screamed. Tears poured down his cheeks as he yelled Rasha’s name over and over. Shuffling through the shards of glass and debris that now littered his shop, he crawled out through the gaping hole that was just moments earlier a window, through which he and Rasha had smiled.
Rasha was nowhere to be seen. It was as if she had vanished into thin air. But then he noticed a strange smell. A burning smell. One that brought a sickening feeling to his stomach. And then he saw them. Black charred bodies that had been burned beyond recognition. He collapsed. The sense of loss was too great to bear. How could someone he loved so much be gone forever?
How could humans hate humans this much?
How could Muslims kill Muslims?
Nothing made sense…
The above story is based on a real incident which happened to Nazir (name changed to protect his identity) in Damascus, Syria. The name “Rasha” and the moments leading up to her death are my imagination, but the explosion, her relationship with Nazir, his love for her, and the remaining facts are as reported to us by Nazir.
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to travel to Greece by way of Albania. I was joined there with several other men who live in that part of the world, and we were engaged in what was to become a series of life altering meetings.
We had the opportunity and privilege to interview a number of refugees, including Nazir, who had fled from cities in Syria, Iran and Iraq, mostly because of the wars and conflicts there. Many of these former Muslims are now living in crowded refugee camps throughout Greece.
In addition to Nazir’s story above, below is a sampling of some of the comments of these refugees that will give you just a small glimpse into the catastrophes they fled that led to their new life in Christ:
- As I made the decision to accept Christ, I realized that my Christian girlfriend gave her life so that I would know Jesus.
- I heard a voice say, “I’m with you” while I was in the hospital but I knew the voice was not from the god of Islam because Allah does not speak with people.
- After fleeing Aleppo, I began questioning Islam’s teachings. If God created me, how could he tell me to kill people?
- If you want to be a Muslim you must close your mind.
- When ISIS came to Mosul they killed my brother, and Christians, and did awful things to girls, destroying everything.
- ISIS put me in jail twice: once for failing to pray and the second time for smoking. The second time they placed a loaded and cocked gun to my head.
- ISIS is still looking for me and would kill me if they found me.
- As I was going home from work one day in Aleppo, a bomb exploded near me and I suffered injuries in my arms and legs.
- Because of the war in Aleppo I fled to Turkey. While there, I met a Christian who I fell in love with, even though I was a Muslim. When I told my family that he wanted to marry me, they told me they would disown me and I would never be welcome to come home again.
- While living in my home country of Iran, I met some Christians there and I became a Christian. But because of my conversion, my life was threatened so I had to flee from Iran to Turkey. While there I met a Muslim girl who I was attracted to. But she was from Syria and spoke Kurdish so I had to use a translator. After several months I asked her to marry me, but I could still not speak Kurdish with her. I needed to be able to communicate with her so I had been praying about this. One night I went to bed, unable to speak Kurdish. The next morning I woke up and could speak Kurdish fluently. When I met my girlfriend the next time, she thought I had been lying to her about my inability to speak Kurdish but I explained to her that it was Jesus who had given me the ability to speak her language. I can still speak it fluently to this day.
- We got married and 5 months later left Turkey, ending up in a refugee camp in Greece. My wife miscarried our first baby and became deathly ill in the camp. One night, I was praying for my wife to be healed and a dark smoke filled our tent (which I believe was demonic). As I continued to pray to God I saw a bright white light outside our tent and I heard a voice telling me that my wife was going to be fine in the morning. The next morning two women I had never seen before came to our tent and they said, “We have come from the hospital and are here to help. Where is Amanda?” They prayed over my wife and took her to the hospital.
- While I was crying in the hospital I saw visions of Jesus smiling at me and He told me I would be ok. I cried out to Jesus and asked Him to help me and I trusted Him. Later, as I was sleeping, I saw Jesus in white clothes and He touched my forehead and healed me. When I woke up I walked out of the hospital fully healed and my life has changed forever now that Jesus is my Savior.
The Bible is full of stories of our miracle working God, many as dramatic as the ones above. Of course, in America, we see evidence of His miraculous work every time we look in the mirror, look out our window, look into the sky or see a new baby. But how often do we see God working in ways like those experienced by these Muslim refugees? In my case, never. But that does not mean that God is silent. To the contrary.
God promises to be found to those who earnestly seek Him. The more than half-dozen individuals that we interviewed are all powerful testimonies of individuals who were calling out to God in their time of dire distress. They were diligently seeking God. And God in miraculous ways showed Himself through Jesus. Their lives have been transformed for eternity. And these new believers are now reproducing themselves in the lives of dozens of other refugees within the camps scattered around Greece and beyond.
As I was reading through Scripture this week, I came across this verse:
“He showed you these things so you would know that the Lord is God and there is no other. He let you hear his voice from heaven so he could instruct you. He let you see his great fire here on earth so he could speak to you from it.” (Deuteronomy 4:35-36)
Many of these refugees heard God’s voice in Jesus. They witnessed “these things” in order that they would distinguish between Allah, the god of Islam, and the one true God, who not only created the universe, but also sent His Son Jesus to die for them (and you, and me). When God showed Himself to be real to these refugees, they embraced Him completely. And every one of these refugees were promptly baptized, to present a public testimony of the fact that they left Islam and embraced Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
My good friend Nathan has aptly described what is occurring as a result of the war-torn conflicts throughout the middle east in this manner: “From Catastrophe to Christ.” He is planning a book by that name, as a sequel to his more recent book, that he co-authored with Joel Richardson: The Mystery of Catastrophe.
While wars and violence are horrendous, and any person would seek to avoid, we can clearly see God’s sovereignty at work in a mighty way through these ongoing catastrophes. And each one of these refugees is eternally grateful for the catastrophe they experienced, for without it, they would likely have never met Christ.
Last week I wrote about my trip to the Indy 500 and the spectacular crash that happened when Scott Dixon’s car went airborne in the 53rd lap of the race. In those few seconds that followed, Dixon’s life hung in the balance. Thankfully, he survived. Dixon’s walking away from the crash was due in large part to the months and years of purposeful preparation by his team, designers, and engineers. They spent countless hours constructing a car that could withstand some of the most brutal crashes one can imagine.
But my focus today is not the crash at Indy, or the incredible design of the cars, but rather what was astonishingly absent from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and poses a grave threat to hundreds, if not thousands of fans. But before I share what was absent, here are a few quick facts about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS).
- The IMS is the largest sporting venue in the United States and the World, with its capacity exceeding 400,000.
- The highest attendance ever at the IMS was 350,000, with this year’s attendance exceeding 300,000.
- The Indy 500 is held on Memorial Day Weekend, in honor of the thousands of men and women of our military who died while serving our nation. The timing of the race lends itself to a strong, patriotic theme.
- This year, Vice President Mike Pence attended the Indy 500, and his motorcade made a quick trip around the Speedway before the race.
- The IMS is not only an American icon, but it depicts the American spirit of ingenuity, enterprise and competitiveness. Built in 1909, it has been a part of America for over 45% of our nation’s history.
If you’ve ever attended a race at the IMS, you know that you can often park a mile or two away. You then make your way to the racetrack via quaint, all-American neighborhoods. The thousands of houses that surround the speedway are typical 50+ year old houses, in bustling neighborhoods, often with small front lawns and yards with picket fences. Most of the residents offer up their yards and front curbs for $10-$20 parking per car. They all want a little piece of the half-billion dollars that flood into their community on what is undoubtedly the greatest motorsport weekend of the year in America.
As my friends and I drove to the race track Sunday morning, our spirits were high, but we were also anxious that the forecasted rain would hold off. The clouds were ominous but the weatherman teased all the race fans with the potential that the rain wouldn’t appear until the last half of the race. After finding a parking place a mile and a half away, we began our walk, along with hundreds of other race fans. As we drew closer to the track, the hundreds turned to thousands and the Speedway facility rose into the sky in front of us. Outside the track, people milled everywhere. Backpacks, coolers, bags, raincoats and fanny packs were the norm. The tens of thousands heading for the entrances had one thing in mind — an afternoon of speed, excitement, crashes, and cheering for their favorite driver.
We made our way to one of the dozens of entry points into the speedway and gathered in a line, expecting to endure the requisite security screenings that have become commonplace in sporting events since 9/11. But as we met the IMS representatives checking our tickets and inspecting our belongings, we received a quick, cursory motion through. I observed many race fans, before and after me, who had backpacks, coolers and bags, and the inspection of their items was also very superficial. I spoke to another friend who entered at a separate gate who expressed the same shock over the aloof attitude of the personnel when he entered the gates as well. He was carrying a shoulder pack and the elderly lady didn’t even delve into his pack but just motioned him through with a “you’re fine!”
As I walked past security, I was instantly struck with the fact that not only was there no focused attention to what people were carrying into the venue, but I was also amazed that there were no metal detectors in place to at least catch any obvious weapons that someone might have on their person. Even law abiding citizens with firearms concealed carry permits could have passed through the Indy 500 security that weekend. I shuddered to think how easy it would have been for a terrorist to have walked through with a host of weapons that could have caused indescribable tragedy.
Following the attack in Manchester a few weeks ago, I wrote about the repercussions of ISIS inspired attacks turning from bombs laden with nails to explosives laden with neurotoxins. The Indy 500 last week represented a fertile and high valued soft-target for such weaponry. Given that our terrorist enemies pursue not only death and destruction, but they also seek symbolism in their attacks, what better target could be found than the Indy 500, an American icon that draws the largest crowd of any sporting event in America?
So there is no question that security at the IMS was appalling. I don’t want to pre-judge the owners and management of the IMS, but in this day of grave threats to the security of our nation, and an enemy that is increasingly looking for high profile soft targets, it’s inexcusable that the lives of 300,000 race fans was devalued so greatly at last week’s Indy 500. The reason an attack did not occur last week, and dozens or hundreds of casualties did not occur, was not because of the extraordinary efforts of the IMS and their staff. To the contrary, there was no terrorist attack despite the pathetic security. I can only assume that those seeking the death of our citizens were simply not up to the task last weekend. But must we wait for them to succeed before we get serious about security?
The MLB, NFL, NHL, and NBA all require metal detector screenings at all of their venues. Additionally, coolers and large bags are not permitted. Implementing just these two security standards at the Indy 500 would at the very minimum eliminate the likelihood that a would-be terrorist could exploit such a current vulnerability.
As we think of the crash that Scott Dixon survived, in the context of a terrorist attack, there are three aspects to Dixon’s walking away from his horrific crash that should be a part of the IMS security protocol. They are:
- Understanding the threat
- Preparing for the threat
- Surviving the threat
There is no question that Indycar drivers, their teams and owners, understand the threat they face every time a driver strap into his car. Death or serious injury is always lurking. The fact is, the last 100 years confirms that it’s not if you will crash in motorsports, but when. And tragically, for some drivers it wasn’t if they would die, but when they would. So the threat is real.
Because the sport understands the racing threat, they have prepared for it. A few years ago, a crash like Scott Dixon’s would have undoubtedly ended the driver’s life. Yet, with continued testing, refining, and perfecting, a crash that absolutely decimated the car Dixon was in, still enabled the driver to climb out and walk away. I’m confident that Dixon, his family, team members and the entire motorsport world, would agree that whatever amount of capital was expended to prepare for the threat he faced, was worthwhile when the threat materialized.
Finally, because the Indycar series understands the threat, and continues to prepare for it, the vast majority of drivers in the league today walk away from horrific crashes. The same holds true in NASCAR and other racing series. Understand. Prepare. Survive.
But to date in our nation, I fear many, including politicians, business owners and even ordinary citizens do not understand the threat we face. Sadly, tens of millions in America still walk around as if they are immune from terrorist attacks. But Islamic terrorists are here in droves. They’ve struck already. And they will continue to do so, with greater regularity and intensity, unless we understand the magnitude of the threat.
So we must understand, but we must also prepare. I applaud President Trump for not only his understanding of the threat we face, but for his efforts to prepare our nation and cities for the threats. Sadly, he is being handcuffed all along the way by dangerous, politically correct buffoons. And mark my words, it’s just a matter of time before the roadblocks that have been thrown up to thwarts Trump’s efforts result in American lives being lost. But then it will be too late and there will be no amount of course correction that will restore the lives lost because of ignorant and incompetent leaders.
Finally, we will only survive this threat if you and I personally and individually understand and prepare for the threat facing not just our nation, but us individually. My home town of Chattanooga, TN was attacked two years ago by an Islamic terrorist. Five Americans died and more were injured. That’s too close for comfort. But your city could be or will be next. Will you wait until it happens or will you prepare for such a potential? If you want to survive the unimaginable, like Scott Dixon did, then do like he did.
Understand. Prepare. Survive.
To do less is to gamble with your life and those you love.
Manchester. Paris. London. Berlin. Stockholm. Nice. Brussels. Boston. San Bernardino. Orlando. These are just a few of the many cities in the Western world that have felt the scourge of Islamic Terrorism. Sadly, my hometown, Chattanooga, has also experienced Islamic Terrorism, as I wrote about a couple years ago in my article “When Evil Visited Our City.”
The Manchester massacre at an Ariana Grande concert this week, is yet another reminder that Islamic terrorism remain alive and well, in its diabolical quest to subject the masses. Once again, ISIS and their radical accomplices dealt a vicious blow to innocent lives. Over one hundred children and adults were injured or murdered at the hands of a brutal suicide bomber, as he detonated an improvised explosive device full of nails and ball bearings.
As tragic as this attack was, it could be a precursor to something so much worse and massive in terms of loss of life, as noted in this headline from earlier this week:
Isis tests chemical weapons on ‘human guinea pigs’, secret documents reveal
Dirty bombs, whether radioactive or chemical in nature, pose a mounting threat in this escalating battle between Islamic ideology and the Western world. These weapons of mass destruction, small in relative size, but enormous in destructive potential, have been a threat for years. As ISIS pursues chemical weapons to inflict even greater terror, harm, and death, it’s likely just a matter of time before neurotoxins replace nails.
I shudder to think of the future attacks by Islamic terrorists at concerts, sporting events, or other such “soft” targets. And as awful as the Manchester attack was, it could be dwarfed by an ISIS inspired suicide bomber, carrying a backpack with a chemical weapon. The impact from such an attack could be well into the multiple of thousands. And so, the threat could not be more grave and the urgency could not be greater to crush, root out, and thoroughly obliterate the scourge of Islamic terrorism.
President Trump’s trip this week to the the Middle East was extraordinarily timely, as he met with high profile Islamic states and their representatives. His message to them was clear. While America is committed to annihilating the cancer of Islamic terrorism, the ultimate responsibility for destroying this belief system lies at the feet of Islam itself. Will Muslims around the world, step up and purge their cultures, societies, mosques and madrasas? And if not, will our own political leaders take the necessary steps to protect our citizens?
Time will tell, but the sad reality is that the fundamentals taught within the Islamic trilogy (Koran, Hadith and Sira) and the example offered by Islam’s founder, Mohammed, are at odds with an ideology that our politically correct world fancies the “religion of peace.” Sure, there are passages that speak of peace, and there were times in Mohammed’s life that he was peaceful, but the actual meaning of the word Islam is “submission,” although your Muslim friend might tell you it is peace. And one only need read the passages and examples offered by the Trilogy and Mohammed himself, to see where ISIS gains the inspiration for its barbarism and depravity.
Saffie Rose Roussos
So in an age of tolerance, there can be no tolerance for an ideology that seeks to kill us all, including eight year old girls like Saffie Rose Roussos, as she was enjoying a music concert with her friends this week. An attack on Manchester by Islamic terrorists is an attack on us all. But to eradicate this scourge from amongst us, it will require political leaders to first acknowledge the truth of this ideology. Until then, the attacks will not only continue, but they will grow in severity as the body count increases.
Our nation has been deeply divided for some time and that division is growing even deeper. Much of this division has occurred because our political leaders have untethered our laws, policies and regulations from the law of the land, our Constitution.
But as bad as this rejection of our Constitution has been by Congress and the President, We the People have still possessed the ability to hold our politicians accountable to our founding document and principles, every two or four years.
But there remain two threats to the rule of law beyond the Executive and Congressional branches. One obvious. Another not so.
In many banana republics around the globe, cruel and unjust dictators are oftentimes deposed via a military coup d’etat — an armed overthrow of a government. It’s interesting to look at the meaning of this French word. According to Wikipedia, coup d’etat is sometimes translated as “blow of the state” or “hit of state” but the literal translation is “stroke of the state” — as in the wiping or stroke of a sword.
To date our nation has never faced a military coup d’etat. This first threat, while a potential, has never been considered a likely one in our Constitutional Republic.
A Judicial Coup d’etat
The second threat though, is not only a real one, but this week it was realized. No shots were fired. No swords were drawn. But as the definition of coup d’etat makes clear, a “blow to the state” took place when unelected citizens in black robes thumbed their nose at the Constitution and law and figuratively arrested America’s duly elected President, placing legal handcuffs on the authority he clearly possesses.
The Ninth Circuit Federal Appeals Court circumvented well established law and precedent that affirmed the authority of President Trump, in his position as Commander in Chief, to administer the immigration laws of our land. One such law, the Immigration and Nationality Act, states in Section 1182(f):
“Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate”
The net effect of the courts decision was that these three unelected judges wrestled the authority for the safety of our citizens from Trump with the stroke of a pen. Sixty-three million citizens elected Donald Trump to protect our nation from a clear and present danger stemming from the loose and dangerous refugee immigration policies of the Obama Administration. The danger posed by radical Islam has been unleashed time and time again in Europe and America over the last couple years. But the court’s decision undermined a duly elected President and left him powerless, for all practical purposes. At least for the time being.
With the stakes growing ever higher, and the willingness by the left to embrace whatever tactic they can devise to block Republicans from governing, rest assured that nothing will be left off the table. Whether it’s the riots and violence in the streets as I wrote about earlier this week, the abuse of long established rules in Congress, or the seizing of authority by the judicial branch that it does not possess, there will be no end to the intimidation, abuses, and other nefarious activities by Democrats and their allies.
And it will only grow worse as unelected and unaccountable men in black establish their superior rule… from the bench.
On November 8, 2016 America entered a new era. The Trump era. And while there are many “firsts” with the election of President Donald J. Trump, there is one in particular that poses a significant challenge for our nation.
Donald Trump is the wealthiest individual ever elected President. In fact, Trump’s reported net worth of somewhere between $4-10 Billion is up to 100 times the size of the next wealthiest President during the last 100 years, John F. Kennedy.
But his wealth is not the real challenge. Rather, the nature of his wealth is what poses a monumental security challenge for our nation. Consider that Trump’s wealth is predominately comprised of a high profile real estate portfolio. From the five star, elite Trump Hotels, located around the country and in several foreign countries (including Islamic ones), to his corporate office complexes and skyscrapers, these properties could offer a high profile target for some of America’s worst enemies.
During the campaign, Trump repeatedly singled out ISIS and other terrorist enterprises, making it clear that he would use the full force of the US military to defeat them. “I’m going to bomb the s*** out of them… and knock the hell out of them,” Trump promised.
Following the election, ISIS cheered the results, flooding Twitter with taunts, jeers and threats:
“Don’t try to hide, Donald. The mujahideen are ready.”
“Trump’s win of the American presidency will bring hostility of Muslims against America as a result of his reckless actions…”
The clear intent of ISIS all along has been to draw the world’s lone superpower into a head to head confrontation. This leading terrorist enterprise believes that drawing the US into a war will assist them in their recruiting efforts, while appealing to Allah to assist them in defeating the Great Satan.
So is a showdown coming?
If Trump is to be believed, he will be taking the fight to ISIS. But if ISIS is to be taken seriously, they are likely strategizing on ways to inflict maximum harm and devastation in unconventional but media rich ways, as they have often done in the past. Clearly they cannot take on the US military directly. So what could their targets be? Can we make some informed observations based on the previous methods ISIS has deployed? I believe so. And because of this, I see a dangerous threat to Trump and his related properties, and those individuals who might work at or visit them.
Obviously, Trump will be surrounded by the world’s finest detail, our US Secret Service professionals. And no doubt they are already preparing for every kind of threat and developing active contingency plans. But there’s one thing we should have learned by now, following hundreds of terrorist attacks around the world and many right here on our homeland. Protecting not only our billionaire President but also his expansive network of high profile assets, in a post 9/11 world, presents a new and unprecedented challenge for our nation.
This is just one more reason to offer up prayer for Donald Trump, his family, his team, and the entire Trump empire.
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. I Peter 2:1-2
Do you know how to protect yourself in the event of an attack at your home or office?
Are your home and office hard or soft targets?
If an attacker grabbed you or your loved one, what is your fastest and most effective response?
If you were caught in a surprise attack at close range, are you confident that you can protect yourself and disable your attacker?
In the event of a natural disaster, how do you help yourself or those in need?
Earlier this year, my wife, Lori, and I, teamed up with Executive Operations Group, to build a private shooting range at Liberty Ridge Ranch, our 125 acre property just a few miles outside Chattanooga in Bradley County, TN (Cleveland).
Executive Operations Group (EOG) was founded by my friend Dr. Omar Hamada, a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army Special Forces (Airborne) who is an accomplished physician and business executive living in middle Tennessee with his wife and four children.
The EOG instructors are world-class, combat-hardened ex-Special Forces, Delta, SEAL, and CIA veterans. They include martial artists and MMA coaches and champions. These are not your ordinary NRA-Certified Instructors or your average self-trained survival guys. These are the best in the world combat-experienced guys who have real world life and death experience. They have fought for our country and their passion continues to make our world a better and safer place. And that means getting you the training you need. Each trainer has an estimated $1 Million+ worth of training invested in them by the US government.
EOG will be holding the following two courses at Liberty Ridge Ranch in the next few weeks:
Pistol Training Program: October 28-29
Executive Operations Survival Training: November 16-20
To find out more about each program, including cost, visit EOG’s website at http://executiveoperationsgroup.com/
Each class is limited to 15 students so don’t delay. They are sure to fill up fast.
Come with a desire to learn and the passion to make your life and the lives of those around you better and safer.
If you want Hands-on personalized training from Special Operators — the most elite warriors in the world — experienced in real world military engagements, then EOG will give you the skills necessary to protect you and your family in the event of a terrorist or criminal attack, a natural disaster, or other real life emergencies.
Don’t delay. Be sure to check out their website and consider signing up today.