An Islamic theologian responsible for teaching ISIS militants "jihad 101" has turned to the Bible after growing "sick of the killing" and finding himself yearning for something "better," according to a Christian missionary who works in the Middle East.
The Christian missionary, introduced as just "Julian" during a recent interview on The Voice of the Martyrs Radio program, believes "ISIS is being used to reveal something of the dark heart of Islam."
"As I say that I feel a bit reticent because I know that many, many Muslims want to distance themselves and are embarrassed by it and are great people," Julian added. "And we should not see our Muslim neighbors as terrorists ... but as neighbors who want to be a regular part of the community. But nevertheless, some of this evil stuff is being exposed as never before."
Julian suggested that "exposing the evil" of ISIS leads to "dissatisfaction and disillusionment" among followers and would-be supporters.
The missionary was presented only as "Julian" in the interview "because he is a guest who travels in and out of the Muslim world on a regular basis," VOM Radio host Todd Nettleton explained. VOM is a nonprofit organization that draws attention to persecution of Christians around the world.
Julian was described as "a long-time worker in the Muslim world" affiliated with Operation Mobilization — a collective of 6,800 volunteer missionaries and staff working in 118 countries to spread "the message of hope through Jesus Christ to men, women, and children around the world."
The missionary went on tell of two accounts involving "ISIS guys coming to faith" that he had heard at a prayer event in Egypt in October.
"One is about a fighter who suddenly, unexpectedly out of the blue had a vision of the cross. For an ISIS fighter that's bad news, not good news," Julian said, chuckling afterward.
"So he goes online. … He's looking for a good Muslim site to bolster his faith, and inadvertently he stumbles into a Christian site and gets kind of interested and more interested and reads and the doubts grow. He leaves Syria, goes into Turkey and meets a believer who's able to share the Gospel and he comes to faith. And he was at a church conference in Lebanon in October and shared that personal story."
"The other account we heard was from Lebanon that there was a taxi driver who was a believer up at the border with Syria, and into his taxi gets this guy with a big beard. And the guy with the beard says, 'Take me to the airport, I'm flying home to Saudi. But on the way, I want to find a Bible. Can you find me a Bible?'" Julian added. "And the taxi driver knew a Christian worker in Beirut who was very happy to give the guy with the beard a Bible. And then, 'Sir, would you like to tell us why you're looking for a Bible?' His response was, 'I'm from Saudi, I'm a sheikh (which means a teacher of Islam). I've been in Syria teaching the ISIS fighters jihad 101, the theology and practice of jihad. I'm sick of the killing. There must be something better than this."
"I guess that guy was giving theological justification for the violence and something just happened and his eyes had been opened and he said, 'I'm sick of it. There must be a better way. Give me a Bible,'" Julian added.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, referred to as ISIS, ISIL or the Daesh, advertises its brutal beheadings of Christians and public stonings and hangings of dissenting Muslims and other religious minorities through propaganda videos and images published online. The terrorist organization, which has spawned debate about its claims to Islam since emerging in full force in 2014, has also subjected women and young girls to forced marriages, imprisonment and rape. The terrorist group, linked to the-late Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, also trains young boys in violent jihad.
At the end of his interview, Nettleton asked Julian how Christians can pray for "the Muslim world."
"A lot of us, when we look at what's happening with ISIS, want to pray against them. This is evil, this is despicable, it's atrocious, so the natural reaction is to pray out of anger against them," the missionary responded.
"These are people who have been deceived, they're lost. They're headed for a Christ-less eternity. At this prayer conference that I was at in Egypt, we were told about a prophetic Word that had been given at another conference which resonated with us, which said that 'I have another Saul on the road to Damascus (the capital of Syria), and I have an Ananias and a Barnabas ready and I intend to raise up apostolic figures out of these fighters. …' We need to pray for God to call forth those apostolic figures out of ISIS," Julian added.