I'm not normally one to read a book like this. I honestly am not sure why I chose to read Love in the Face of ISIS other than just the Holy Spirit at work, but I can tell you that I am so glad that I did. I was hooked from the very first page of the introduction when Varela explained why she chose the name.
Varela states that the title just came to her out of nowhere, but that it deeply connected to her spirit, so she knew that it must be from God. As she prayed about the title, she felt Him asking her, "'What is love? Who is Love?'" The answer is that God is love, so rewritten, with that knowledge, the title would be God in the Face of ISIS. And as the Chris Tomlin song goes, "And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us? And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?"
The seven areas that Varela teaches you prayer strategy for are:
- Releasing the presence of God
- Releasing the armies of God
- Releasing the protection of God
- Releasing the perseverance for the people of God
- Releasing the provision of God
- Releasing the healing of God
- Releasing the peace of God
Along with these prayer strategies, I learned about Middle East history in relation to the conflicts and the Bible. For example, did you know that Mosul, Iraq, the city taken over by ISIS that granted the organization world attention, used to be the city of Ninevah? I also learned about organizations that are trying to help with the crisis like The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME), Preemptive Love Coalition (PLC), and Iraqi Children Foundation.
While all of the knowledge gained is important, the parts of the book that really drove home how important it is to pray for the crisis were the stories from workers and victims. I cried while reading most of the stories and I praised God that my family is safe. I can't imagine the fear that some of the mothers have endured and are still enduring. Their struggles are heartbreaking, but their faith and strength are inspiring.
Love in the Face of ISIS is packed with Biblical reference and is not a fluff book. One thing that really stuck out in my mind while reading it is that the knowledge and strategy can be applied to just about any conflict. We can take these strategies and pray about racism in our country. We can take these strategies and pray against the sex trafficking industry. We can take these strategies and pray for the world.
Varela mentions that these strategies, while great to do alone, are powerful when prayed in a group. "Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven," Matthew 18:19. I highly encourage you to buy a set for your church and study these strategies together. In doing so, we could change the world if only we believe and pray with sincere hearts.
You can find out more about the author here.
Find out more about the book here.