It’s hard to decide what to pray for first? This past week has brought to our local and global consciousness the escalation of COVID-19 in the USA, the earthquake in Haiti, and the unbelievable events in Afghanistan. For some, one of these events may be the most personal if one has lost a loved one to COVID-19 or has experienced personal tragedy in the earthquake in Haiti.
Yet it’s the speed at which the Taliban have regained control of all of Afghanistan that has shocked the world, both secular and sacred. Given the realities of this crucial moment of history, how must the Body of Christ respond? How can we focus our minds, actions, and hearts as human history unfolds in real time. First,
…God is the Lord of History. Since He experiences the past, present and future in equal measure, the events of these days have not caught Him off guard. We will continue to pray as Jesus taught us that His, “kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
…Afghanistan has possibly experienced more intentional, focused witness in the last 20 years, following 9/11, than in the preceding 2000 plus years. The opportunities for Afghans to hear, understand, and believe in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ flowed from believing, international workers from all walks of life. We owe these workers our love and support while acknowledging that their pain in being separated from the Afghan people is intense. Not a few of these workers gave their lives in Afghanistan. For Afghans.
…YET, as such obedient witness has been offered, many Afghans have believed. More than ever, the debt of prayer must be paid. For us, it is a time of focused prayer and fasting for believers who have chosen to stay in Afghanistan for the Gospel’s sake. They have always experienced being “sheep among wolves.” While we must pray for their safety, we should first pray for their obedience to remain in-country as fervent witnesses. Believers in persecution have consistently observed that the “quickest way to end their persecution is by winning their persecutors to Jesus.” Jesus healed the young boy, possessed by a demon, which often cast this child into the fire. When Jesus was asked by His disciples why they could not heal the young boy, He replied that such evil can only be defeated through “prayer and fasting.”
This is our time, our privilege to pray and fast for believers in Afghanistan, carrying them when, perhaps, they cannot carry themselves.
…It has often been said that “the one lesson that we learn from history, is that we don’t learn anything from history.” For centuries foreign governments and their armies have attempted to force change upon the Afghan people. The British invaded Afghanistan in 1839 with disastrous results, as did the Russians in the 1980s. Real change rarely originates from outside of a country’s border. Real change originates in the hearts and will of a country’s people.
…Further, we are brutally reminded that Afghanistan’s (and the world’s) issues DO NOT have a military or political solution. 20 years of intervention with an expenditure of approximately $1,000,000,000,000 ($1 trillion!) has not offered a solution. Jesus also spoke about this truth. He told of a demon being cast from a house. Though the house was cleansed, it was left empty. So the original evil spirit went and enlisted 7 spirits worse than himself to inhabit that cleansed house. Therefore this house’s final status was worse than the first. (My paraphrase of Luke 11:24-26). Ultimately, this is the same truth that all nations, all people, must acknowledge. No form of government, no might of arms, nor the most successful financial system can offer eternal life, eternal change. As one friend said, “If Jesus is not the answer, there is no answer.”
Praise be to God, Jesus is the answer!
Let us use this time to make a covenant grounded in obedience to God. Jesus commanded His disciples to go into all the earth, making disciples (Matthew 28:19-20 ). We have not gone. Therefore, most of our world do not have enough of the Good News to replace their bad news. They do not have enough of a biblical witness today to find eternal life, eternal change, through Jesus. Shall we continue to sin against our world to the extent that there will always be another Somalia, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan on the global horizon? Will we leave the peoples of our earth without the love of Jesus, delivered through sacrificial witness? Let’s no longer burden governments and militaries with delivering patches for the problems of a lost world. Let’s lead, not follow.
The political, economic, and military world will continue to seek the means to advance their country’s ideology. Conversely, we as followers of Jesus must seek a place to kneel. Arising from the place of prayer will we not now go and do as Jesus commanded over 2000 years ago? Please, no more Afghanistans.
Remembering CM with great love and deep appreciation.