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December 8, 2001
Column #1058

THE INVISIBLE ENEMY

     Immediately after the September 11 terrorism, church attendance boomed, but now is back to normal, report pollsters Gallup and Barna. 

     Why? People came terrified. Life which seemed secure was suddenly fragile. But the church had no answer for that fear, no life-changing message. Millions drifted away. They heard pablum, gentle prayers of comfort, pleas for wisdom. 

     In this war, who is the enemy? Not Osama bin Laden. It is unheard of to declare war on an individual. Nor even al-Qaida leaders. They could be killed, but seen as martyrs by a new generation willing to die to kill Americans. This war is against terrorism.

     As President Bush put it: "We are at the beginning of what I view as a very long struggle against evil. We're not fighting a nation. We're not fighting a religion. We're fighting evil."

In this new war, "Our enemy walks among us, yet (begin ital) he is invisible," (End ital) writes Dwayne N. Hunt, pastor of Abundant Grace Fellowship in Memphis, in his first book, "The Invisible Enemy," which he dashed off in recent weeks.

     "The Church has the only army trained and skilled at fighting an invisible enemy. The events of September 11th and the subsequent actions to spread terror through the mail are of demonic origin. Thus, there must be a spiritual response."

     While the battleground against terrorists may be in the Middle East, Hunt contends the battlefield against terror is in the mind. Jeremiah, in Chapter 6, describes terrorism: "We have heard reports about them and our hands hang limp. Anguish has gripped us."

     Fewer than 20 dedicated terrorists have made millions of Americas fearful of flying. I ran a conference last weekend in Washington, that experienced cancellations. The wife of a pastor from Puerto Rico was afraid to come. I noted that by the time her plane arrived it would be empty of jet fuel and therefore, unusable by terrorists. Logic could not penetrate her fear.

     Hunt urges Christians to consult the Church's Field Manual on terrorism, the Bible. "He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord...In the end he will look in triumph on his foes'' (Ps 112:7-8). Or, ''For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Tim. 1:7).

     The problem is that the church itself has been hijacked, and thrown off course. "Instead of being worship centers, we have become entertainment centers," he writes. "Instead of a life-changing Word, our sermons must appease the emotions. Instead of Spirit-filled ministry that convicts sinners, we offer generic services that do not offend visitors and the unsaved."

     The weapons terrorists used against us "were not theirs, but ours. They hijacked our planes and turned them into guided missiles...They are willing to lay down their lives for their cause, yet we are unwilling to be laughed at for the cause of our faith. Their zeal disciplines them yet we who are called disciples, have no zeal for dread of being labeled 'fanatical.'"

     However, this could be the church's "finest hour" if Christians would recognize that only the church can match the enemy's level of violence and aggression.  He notes America's military fights according to rules which aim at minimizing losses and casualties. By contrast, our enemies carry out their mission at any cost, including the loss of their own lives.

     Bin Laden has promised more terror: "Neither America nor the people who live in it will dream of security." However, Judges, Chapter 9 tells what happened to a terrorist named Abimelech who destroyed a tower killing over 1,000 people in Shechem. He then aimed to topple  Tower Two in the city Thebez. But a woman dropped a stone from the top, crushing his skull. With his last breath, he asked his armorbearer to run him through with a sword, so that his epitaph would not read "a woman killed him."

     The church is often referred to as a woman, "the Bride of Christ."  The church can drop the stone to crush the head of our enemy. What stone? 

     Hunt, an African-American pastor, aged 44, suggests a specific prayer strategy not gentle prayers of comfort or fearful prayers to protect us from anthrax, but prayers that what is concealed and hidden will be disclosed and made known (Matt. 10:26), that the invisible terrorists will be unmasked and discovered quickly.

     "Our prayers can also be made that God will set an `ambush' against the bio-terrorists, that they will be exposed to their own demonic bio-agents before they expose anyone else."

     To read Chapter 1 of this muscular anti-terrorism book, see http://www.theinvisibleenemy.org.

Copyright 2001 Michael J. McManus.

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