Rumors are rampant among Christians in Brazoria County, Texas these days about a “Muslim terrorist training camp” supposedly set up for years on County Road 3 just outside of Sweeny, the quiet little city where Cheryl and I live.
Here’s just one of the more credible articles I’ve seen online about this “compound” since I first heard about it (via a random post from one of my Facebook friends) in late November. Type “Mahmoudberg” (the place’s supposed name) into any search engine, and you’ll surely come across dozens or hundreds of other articles.
I say the article linked above is “one of the more credible,” but that doesn’t mean it passes this journalist’s test. It just sort of sounds somewhat credible — on the surface.
But, if I’d been editing this piece, I’d have held it until it included a lot more information to help readers verify its conclusions. Two key things it’s missing: the exact address of the compound, and the name of the “declassified” FBI documents its citing. I don’t see any good reason for withholding these details that could have been woven unobtrusively into the piece.
In March of 2014, KHOU -TV in Houston took a bit of a stab at verifying all the horror stories about this place. But that crew didn’t uncover any evidence of wild or dangerous happenings out there.
I drove the length of County Road 3 myself a few days ago. I saw dozens of homes, but nothing that looked like a terrorist training camp.
Now, I did hear a couple of gunshots back in the woods.
But my brother-in-law lives about 2 miles from that road. We hear gunshots at his house all the time. It’s just private shooting ranges. People have them set up all around there. I suppose some of them could be training grounds for terrorists. But the ones I know about are just practice spots for hunters.
I guess I could have stopped to asked the neighbors about Mahmouberg and maybe waited outside the place for someone to make an appearance.
And I guess I could hound a bunch of people at the FBI until I finally get a clear, definite, answer about whether all these supposedly incriminating documents really exist (and if they do, why there’s no report of any arrests at this supposedly dangerous place).
Yes, I could also hound the Brazoria County Sheriff’s office and all the other city police departments that I keep hearing have “raided” the place (but not made any arrests, apparently) multiple times over the years.
Maybe I’m a lazy reporter for deciding there are other, more important, local stories to chase after.
But here’s my Bible-based rationale for moving on:
I trust in God’s word. I’m simply not afraid of ISIS, or any “terrorist,” Muslim or otherwise. And I don’t think anyone else should be either.
Revelation 8 describes those who will survive the ultimate final battle that will usher in Christ’s return:
“One of the elders asked me, ‘Do you know who these people are that are dressed in white robes?” Do you know where they come from?’
“‘Sir,’ I answered,’you must know.’
“Then he told me:
‘These are the ones who have gone through great suffering. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and have made them white. And so they stand before the throne of God and worship him in his temple day and night. The one who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. They will never hunger or thirst again, and they won’t be troubled by the sun or scorching heat. The Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd. He will lead them to streams of life-giving water, and God will wipe all tears from their eyes.'” Rev. 8: 13-17
(Note: I still recommend and trust the Bible’s good ole’ King James version. But it can be confusing to even skilled readers, so I like to quote from the less-artful-but-easier-to understand “Learning Bible” published by the American Bible Society, New York, 1995)
God’s word assures us these honored people have gone through “great suffering,” but we are not told that they fought, worried, or feared or did anything to try to lessen their pain.
They simply suffered. For God.
And as all New Testament readers know, they found the strength to to suffer in the Grace that eternally shines upon them — the Grace that began with God’s own suffering for them.
It is clear to me that fearing, hating, ostracizing, spying-on, or just avoiding those of the Muslim faith is simply a foolish thing to do — even if some Muslims are killers.
In fact, such a state of mind is much more than foolish. It’s dangerous! It puts a person out of the glorious state that Revelation describes above. It promotes the false and dangerous (but all too common) notion that mankind can do God’s work for Him.
The Bible calls men and women of God to simply trust God. Even when such trust brings suffering.
I suppose it’s possible that this Mahmouberg place will turn out to be the source of an army of terrorists who will one day spring forth into Sweeny with their swords, sawing off the heads of all Christians they can capture — and who will not convert.
But Revelation shows me even that (unlikely) event would be nothing to fear — for all who put their trust in God.
Jesus’s friends were unable to stop the Crucifixion.
So it is exceedingly foolish to believe I (or anyone) can stop the world’s final Holy War. I simply ask God to help me prepare my spirit so that I (and all of us) may suffer through it until He achieves His promised victory.
Glory be to God. May I (and we) never forget the gift of His blood is my (and our) eternal salvation!