ISIS attack in Indonesia: A surprising fact

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ISIS attack in Indonesia: A surprising fact

January 15, 2016 - Jim Denison, PhD

Police officers rush to take their position at the site of an attack where attackers set off explosions at a Starbucks cafe in a bustling shopping area in Indonesia's capital and waged gunbattles with police Thursday, leaving bodies in the streets as office workers watched in terror from high-rise buildings, Jakarta, Indonesia, January 14, 2016 (Credit: AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

Kami Tidak Takut is Indonesian for “we are not afraid.” After yesterday’s attacks in Jakarta that killed at least two and wounded nineteen, the Twitter hashtag #KamiTidakTakut began trending. One man tweeted, “Terrorist, their job is to spread terror and create fear. If you are afraid, they win. So stay courageous guys.”

The tragedy in Indonesia followed a suicide attack in Istanbul that killed ten German tourists. That attack took place in front of the Obelisk of Theodosius, near the Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace. I stood before that obelisk with eighty fellow Americans last fall. If an ISIS attacker had seen us, we might have been his victims.

Over the last year, terrorists loyal to ISIS have attacked Paris, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Tunisia again, Cairo, Turkey, Egypt, Paris again, California, Turkey again, Philadelphia, and now Indonesia. Authorities say an ISIS sympathizer in Houston planned to blow up two malls there, then attack a military base in Grand Prairie (a suburb of Dallas). (For more on Islam and violence, please see my latest white paper, Is Islam a Religion of Violence or Peace?)

It’s hard not to be afraid as ISIS-related terror attacks continue to escalate at home and around the world. Nearly half of Americans are afraid they or a family member will be a victim of such an attack.

But here’s a surprising fact: According to The New York Times, only twenty-six Americans have been killed by self-proclaimed jihadists since 9/11. By contrast, ninety-six Americans have been killed by non-jihadist shooters. While the American population grew by 57,000,000 between 1995 and 2014, the FBI reports that homicides fell from 21,606 in 1995 to 14,249 in 2014.

Every murder is tragic and the threat of ISIS-inspired attacks on Americans is very real. But we must be choose the best response to this threat, lest we give our enemies what they want.

Terrorists by definition seek to inspire terror. ISIS tells its followers to attack Americans and other civilians because the group wants to show other Muslims that God is blessing its efforts. It uses the publicity it receives from these attacks to substantiate its movement. Therefore, the more fear it can inspire in “infidels,” the more successful it is.

That’s why Kami Tidak Takut should be our response whenever ISIS or other terrorists strike. And it’s why Christians have a unique role to play in this conflict. When we show others the peace and courage Christ produces in our souls, they are attracted to what they see in us.

First, however, we must make Jesus the source of our confidence. We must say with the psalmist, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Then “we will not fear though the earth gives way” (v. 2). If we build our home on the rock of God’s word (Matthew 7:24–27), when rain and floods come and winds blow and beat against our house, it will not fall (v. 25).

God is calling us to reject self-sufficiency for Christ-dependency. Then we can step into every uncertain day certain that we are in Jesus’ hand and that nothing can come to us without coming through him (John 10:28–29). And others will see our faith and be drawn to our Lord.

What do you fear most today?

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