I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
– 2 Timothy 4:1-5
He sits on an old sofa, his gun nestled against his arm. He is pale and sweating.
He doesn’t look like other terrorists we see on t.v., although he dresses like them and sports a beard. In this video, recorded before his death by suicide bombing, he rambles for the camera. One moment, he delivers a fiery threat to the west. The next moment, he preaches a recruitment message. Behind the bravado is a man struggling with fear as he tries to convince himself that his sacrifice is a righteous one.
His face fills with dread. Sadness. Hate. He speaks an awkward mix of English and Arabic, mirroring his misery as an American Muslim growing up in middle-class America.
His mother is American. His father is Palestinian. He grew up in Florida, earned a high school degree and attended college in the States before dropping out and traveling to Syria.
There, on May 22, 2014, Moner Mohammad Abusalha, the man who grew up in two worlds, became the first American suicide bomber in Syria. He was 22.
Before he died, he spoke about life in his native America:
“I was never happy. I as always sad and depressed…I had to walk from work home. I begged Allah, I cried, ‘Allah, get me out of this land.’ All you do is work forty, fifty, sixty hours a week. And then you go waste it on garbage. This is what you do your whole life.”
Abusalha lost his own life and committed a heinous act of murder in his quest for fulfillment. His story is our solemn reminder of an empty generation around us. Earning money and buying things doesn’t satisfy them. They don’t know why. It’s up to us to tell them that they are made for more. There is something to live for.
If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you know this.
And if we let fear, complacency, personal bias, or political correctness keep us from sharing the truth with others, they are lost and we are responsible.
We may never know if anyone gave Moner Mohammad Abusalha a chance to find salvation and something for which to live.
I hope someone tried.