CNN’s Belief Blog reported on Adopt a Terrorist for Prayer, a website where Christians can read bios of terrorists wanted by the FBI and pledge to keep them in prayer, asking God to change their hearts and turn them to Christ.
That’s taking the biblical directive to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44) quite literally.
According to the story:
Adopt a Terrorist For Prayer (ATFP) spokesman Thomas Bruce tells CNN the site’s main goals are to teach people how to pray for their enemies and to spiritually reform the terrorists.
The site was launched in 2008, with the interactive adoption feature being added in 2009. Bruce says 603 people have registered to prayerfully adopt a terrorist.
While the idea of praying for your foes isn’t new, Bruce says his team created the site in hopes of transforming the war against terrorists.
“We’ve been fighting this for about 10 years with material means, and it hasn’t really changed the nature of it,” Bruce says. “By bringing spiritual perspective to it, and as the Lord answers some of those prayers, it could and should hopefully have a profound change on the viciousness of the conflict we’re in.”
The ATFP site lists 165 people available for “adoption,” most of whom are designated by the FBI and State Department as terrorists or sponsors of terrorism.
There have been movements to pray for Islamic terrorists dating back to 9/11. Pope Benedict prayed for terrorists to convert to Christianity when he visited Ground Zero in 2008.
None seem to be as personal as the Adopt a Terrorist for Prayer campaign, which puts a name, face and story to the generalized threat of terrorism. Rather than asking God to end global terrorism and bring peace to places of conflict, the Christians who “adopt a terrorist” are concerned specifically with the salvation of the individual.
The Adopt a Terrorist for Prayer site lists a dozen specific ways to pray for your adopted terrorist, including asking for God to convict him (example: “Jesus, confront and overwhelm Ismail Haniyeh with his shameful deeds and sinful nature till he becomes desperate for righteousness from you.”) and have him seek repentance (example: “Father, lead Osama Bin Laden to repent for rejecting Jesus and declaring war on your children.”).
The group also spreads its campaign offline, explaining that they don’t oppose military or humanitarian responses to terrorism, but they believe its root cause is spiritual so it calls for a spiritual response.
“When we hate, we are reactive victims. When we love we seize the initiative,” reads an Adopt a Terrorist for prayer study guide. “Love for country helps soldiers to risk their lives. Love for children enables parents to discipline them without being intimidated. Love for us took Jesus to the cross. Love for enemies will give courage to face, overcome, and transform them and the environment that breeds them.”