An Oregon folk singer is heading to Syria next week where he intends to serenade ISIS and bring them a “prayerful message of peace.”
According to Fox News, the State Department has warned him that his life could be in danger, but James Twyman, of Portland, Ore., feels he has a “calling” and believes he can soften the hearts of Islamist militants who are known for their barbaric methods of executing innocent civilians.
It’s going to be pretty powerful,” Twyman said, referring to his plan to have those attending and others around the world sing and pray for peace at the same time. “When people come together and focus on something in a positive way… there’s scientific evidence that it can change things for the better.”
It’s easy to dismiss Twyman as a delusional, new-age hippie, but he has a longstanding track record as a peace activist who believes in the power of prayer and is ready and willing to put his money where his mouth is.
The author and self-styled “Peace Troubadour” has put traditional prayers from various faiths to song. Twyman performed in Baghdad in the late 1990s after Operation Desert Storm; in Bosnia and Croatia during the Balkan War in 1995 and has even performed previously in Syria to spread his message of peace through song.
His activism is inspired at least partly by Pope John Paul II, who on October 27, 1986, invited the leaders of the twelve major religions of the world to Assisi, Italy, the home of Saint Francis, to pray for peace.
Each leader brought the peace prayer from their spiritual tradition. Such a gathering had never occurred before.
In October of 2011, Twyman invited forty people from around the world to walk the Camino of Saint Francis, a ten-day journey through the Italian countryside to Assisi.
Their intention was to carry the peace prayers to the event, then celebrate during an historic concert. This movie depicts the 100 mile walk to Assisi, as well as The Peace Prayer concert.
He told The Daily Beast, “the people there are very anti-ISIS and anti-terrorism — it’s where we’ll set up our base of operations.”
“People have this image of me walking into an ISIS village with a guitar on my back,” he said, chuckling. “That won’t be the case. The purpose of this is to get tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people praying. It’s not about me being a superstar idiot in Syria. At this point, we’re not sure how far we will go, but if people there feel they can get me into an ISIS area safely, and then out safely, then we will do just that…The idea is to sing, then get back to safety. We are hoping for something interesting, just not too interesting.”
Islamic State terrorists routinely behead Westerners, turn Yazidi and Christian girls into sex slaves, and throw gays off of buildings. They’ve burnt prisoners alive or drowned them in metal cages, crucified them, strapped a string of bombs to their necks and detonated them, forced prisoners to kneel above bombs that have been buried in the ground, loaded prisoners into a locked car and shot them with a grenade launcher, chained prisoners upside down above a trail of burning petrol, and apparently even blown up a booby-trapped baby.
Twyman assured The Daily Beast that he ‘s taking all necessary precautions for his ISIS gig.
If Twyman’s fellow peace activists can’t get him into a place where he can perform for some people living under ISIS rule, his fallback plan is to play his set in a safe area “overlooking an ISIS-controlled area.” From there, he and his team will sing the Islamic prayer for peace, as the “Peace Troubadour” strums his acoustic guitar.
Regardless of Twyman’s precise location, the mission is to rally as many people as possible, via the Internet, to simultaneously “focus our Affirmative Prayers on ISIS” in order to—miraculously, somehow, in unprecedented fashion—stem the bloodshed through divine intervention. (Godspeed.)
The world seems to be spinning out of control and there’s nothing an individual like you can to to stop it. But that’s not really the truth, is it? Imagine what would happen if you combined your energy with that of millions of other people at the exact same moment, focusing on a specific world situation or event.
If you plan to participate, it would be a good idea to add some prayers for their safety, along with your prayers for peace. The show is set for Jan. 31.