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June 30, 2015

How Oil is Fueling the Battle for Souls

Post by Brittany Tedesco

Fact: the bad guys in our world have tons of money.

On June 26, all within a matter of hours, ISIS attacked a gas company in France and beheaded one person; ISIS gunmen opened fire on a beach in Tunisia, killing 27 tourists; ISIS murdered 120 civilians in Kobane, Syria; Al-Shabab murdered 30 people at an African Union base in Somalia; ISIS sent suicide bombers inside a Shiite-affiliated mosque in Kuwait's capital, killing 13 people.

Violent jihad is one of the methods Muslim leaders employ toward Islam's end goal: to control the entire world.

Building a worldwide empire, however, is no small feat. It requires money—and lots of it. And, boy, do they have money. Boatloads of it. Or should I say, barrels of it.

Oil. It's the lifeblood of the modern economy—and it just happens to flow in abundance underneath countries dominated by Islam in the Middle East.

Our world wasn't always so industrialized. It wasn't always so needy for oil. But today it is. Today, developed nations require oil to maintain their current level of progress.

And so it's no coincidence that, as the demand for oil has increased, so has the rise of radical Islam. The one fuels the other.

The world's top exporter of oil, Saudi Arabia, has 268 billion barrels of crude oil reserves. It exports 6.3 million barrels a day. Iran has 158 billion barrels in crude oil reserves, and Iraq has 144 billion barrels. (source)

To put things into perspective, the United States has only 33 billion barrels, but is the world's top consumer of oil. The U.S. consumes nearly 19 million barrels per day (about 21% of the total world consumption of oil).

"The oil belongs to the people and can be used as a weapon against the West and those who support the savage regime of Israel," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, head of state in Iran, is quoted as having said in a 2002 New York Times article.

"Iran's mullahs are fully aware of the power of their oil," states an article by the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security. "Iran is heavily dependent on petrodollars. It is a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism and supporter of some of the world's most radical Islamic movements such as the Lebanese [Hezbollah]."

The article, entitled "Fueling Terror" continues: "It is no coincidence that so much of the cash filling terrorists' coffers come from the oil monarchies in the Persian Gulf. It is also no coincidence that those countries holding the world's largest oil reserves and those generating most of their income from oil exports, are also those with the strongest support for radical Islam."

ISIS, the world's wealthiest terrorist group to date, obtains much of its riches from oil. According to the blog Political Violence @ a Glance, ISIS is "reportedly selling truckloads of crude to smugglers, possibly generating as much as $1.4 million per day in revenue."

Map of fertile crescent" by Nafsadh - Map of fertile cresent.png. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons.

Why is it that the world's vast supply of oil belongs to Islamic countries? The three-in-one answer: location, location, location.

Abraham's son, Ishmael, whose descendants later converted to Islam, settled in the region inhabited by the earliest humans: a region known by scholars as the "fertile crescent" or the "cradle of civilization." This area, in and around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, includes parts of Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Cyprus, Egypt, Turkey, and Iran. It's where biblical scholars believe the Garden of Eden was located.

In his book, What in the World is Going On, Dr. David Jeremiah explains, "Eden was a teeming expanse of forests, foliage, and garden with rich fertility unparalleled in human history. Barren sand and blazing desert now exist where once grew a garden flourishing with dense, lush flora, the likes of which the world has not seen since."

Oil is essentially decomposed plant and animal life buried in the ground that has been allowed to age over centuries, and millennia, of time. As Jeremiah puts it, Eden "has decayed into the largest deposits of oil in the world."

I find it a bit eerie that the very paradise God placed the first man and woman into is now being used to fuel Islam's agenda to convert and control the world, through means both violent and slightly more subtle.

I spent several years in the Africa Division of Christian Aid Mission, and read many reports from native ministry leaders based in Muslim-majority countries. Quite frankly, they made me sad.

While these leaders struggled, with meager resources, to simply provide a bit of money to the missionaries working with their ministry, they watched as Muslim missionaries waltzed into poor villages, offering all the riches of Allah if only people would recite the Shahada and convert to Islam.

Access to wells, schools, and clinics is available to any who become Muslim. Ornate mosques are built next to humble mud and thatch churches, as if to say, "Allah provides. The God of Christians? Not so much."

Poor believers in Niger attend a thatch church.

For native missionaries in many African countries, the temptation is ever present to abandon their faith and escape their deep poverty by tapping into the seemingly endless wealth of Islam.

I'll never forget the story told to me by a native ministry leader in Nigeria. Before Christian Aid Mission began to raise funds for his work, he sent several missionaries to a village to share the gospel. The villagers welcomed them, listened to their message, and begged them to return to establish a church.

To do this, the leader needed $300. It took his ministry two years to save this amount. By that time, it was too late. Muslims had converted the entire village to Islam.

Do you realize that a battle for souls is raging right now, as you're reading this?

And I've got news for you. Even though Islam seems to have the oil-wealth advantage, we Christians hold a lot of wealth as well.

Global Mapping International recently produced an infographic, or "missiographic," depicting the wealth of Christians throughout the globe.

Oil wealth might be concentrated in the Middle East, but "Christian income is concentrated in the wealthiest regions of the world—Europe, North America and part of Asia."

The per capita gross national income of Christians is $18,841, while the average is $13,617.

Christians comprise 33% of the world's population; our wealth comprises 46% of the world's income.

And as you can see from the graphic, our potential for giving is far higher than what we actually give.

But let's not only look at the amount we're giving. Let's look at where we're giving it. According to the Issachar Initiative, 99.7% of all ministry financial support goes to building and maintaining the existing Church. Only 0.3% is spent on extending the reach of the Church to areas completely unreached with the gospel—areas vulnerable to a visitation by Islam and all of its enticements or threats.

Let's get there first.

It'll take faith—faith to trust God with our resources. Faith to believe He will provide for us as we give to what is important to Him.

"There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want" (Proverbs 11:24 NASB).

Fact: God works through the faith of His people.

The bad guys might own the oil, but God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (aka: everything). As we step out in faith with our finances, He can multiply our gifts in a million different ways—just like He did with the loaves and the fish.

We're soldiers, not passive spectators. Let's get on our knees and give of our resources to the frontline native missionaries working, right now, in Muslim countries. Let's join their fight in the battle for souls.

Visit www.defeatdarkness.org for ways to help.

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