The death toll from yesterday’s terrorist attack in Nice, France, was raised to 84 this morning. According to reports, two Americans were included in the count. The driver of the truck that rammed into the crowd, which had gathered to watch fireworks and celebrate Bastille Day, is Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel. He was shot and killed by police.
“France has been struck on the day of her national holiday,” said France’s president, Francois Hollande. “Human rights are denied by fanatics, and France is clearly their target.”
This latest episode of terror comes barely a month from the terrible shootings inside a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where 49 people were murdered and 53 others were wounded. The shooter, an American citizen, pledged his allegiance to ISIS.
Add to that tragedy a similar one in San Bernardino, California, last year and other ISIS-inspired events, and it’s clear that our world faces a significant danger.
Before 9/11 – and for the most part, since then – most of us here in the United States have felt relatively safe from the threat posed to us by radical groups around the world. Until recently, terrorist acts seemed mostly isolated to the Middle East.
But now it’s here in our own backyard.
Looking at the carnage in Nice, one has to wonder how similar attacks could possibly be prevented here in the United States. Law enforcement officials are constantly identifying and trying to minimize “soft targets” where large crowds are gathered, similar to last night’s celebration in France.
Yet, the risks are still real, and they’re seemingly everywhere.
That’s because at the core of this wave of terrorism is radical Islam and a quest by some militants to literally take over the world.
How do you get your head around something so big and dangerous?
When my teenage boys watch the news with me, they’ll ask a lot of questions. For example, they recently asked, “What’s the difference between moderate Muslims and radical Muslims? Why do they hate us?”
As a father, I do my best to answer their questions and explain things through the lens of our Christian faith.
Today’s radio program, which was recorded before the attack in France, is a timely discussion of many of these topics.
To help set the stage for the program, you might remember that on our radio broadcast a few months back, we shared the incredible story of Tass Saada, a former Muslim and once a sniper for Yasser Arafat. Tass grew up in the Middle East with a deep hatred for Jews and Christians. He even rubbed shoulders with Osama Bin Laden in his younger days.
Tass’ journey to Christ is amazing. It’s an inspirational story that powerfully demonstrates none of us are beyond God’s reach. He loves each and every person made in His image.
Even radical Muslim terrorists.
We’ve invited Tass back to our broadcast today to share about the threat terrorism poses to our nation. I find his insight invaluable since most westerners don’t really understand the hatred that drives radical Islam.
We’ll also discuss how Christians should respond to the turmoil around us. Political remedies seem only partly effective and often morph into new problems.
We need a spiritual solution.
Matthew 5:44 says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Admittedly, that’s no easy task.
When Tass first converted to Christianity, he came across that verse and was outraged the Lord would require that of him. He swore he would never love the Jews. They had overrun his home, killed his people, and were still persecuting them. Then the Lord said to him, “They have done more than that to Me, but I still love them.”
That sort of thinking rubs our flesh the wrong way. It’s easy to want revenge. If you take a pound of our skin, we’re going to take a pound and a half of yours. It’s Satan’s way of tricking us into fighting battles on his terms because he knows he can’t compete with the fruit of the Spirit. He cannot compete with the love of God.
Our only hope is Christ.
Join us for our conversation with Tass Saada on today’s program “Understanding and Responding to the Threat of Terrorism.” He’ll explain what’s leading so many young Muslim men to radicalization and the history behind Mohammad’s shift to radical teachings against non-Muslims.
Tass became a Christian more than 20 years ago and is the founder of two Christian ministries in the Middle East: Seeds of Hope, which is a humanitarian organization, and Hope for Ishmael, which promotes reconciliation between Muslims, Jews, and Christians.
And please join me in praying for the families of last night’s terror attack.