News reports from Afghanistan reveal an increasingly oppressive and dangerous atmosphere as the Taliban solidifies its grip on the nation.
A Sept. 20 Wall Street Journal article describes how Panjshir Province, which had famously resisted both the Soviet Union in the 1980s and the Taliban in the 1990s, fell quickly to the Taliban earlier this month, even after many fighters opposed to the Taliban assembled there to mount a resistance movement. As of early September, most of the resistance fighters had fled to the region’s mountains.
National Review reports: “The Taliban are methodically collecting as much information about the Afghan population as possible, looking for anyone who has, in their eyes, been tainted or corrupted by Western influences or values.” The report quotes an American who is working to evacuate people as saying that Afghans are being forced to fill out forms with information about past positions and work, the locations of that work and the organizations they had worked for, in order to root out people who have worked on projects the Taliban disapproves.
Meanwhile, the United States and other nations are working to resettle those who fled Afghanistan, and Christian ministries are mobilizing to help.
A Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Assistance Response Team is helping evacuees at a transit center in Eastern Europe. A medical team of two doctors and a nurse has been seeing patients at the center, and the organization has hired a barber for men, a hairdresser for women and provided 250 new dresses and scarves for women who fled with little more than the clothes they were wearing.
“What I love about the barber, hairdresser, dresses, and scarves is that the team is going beyond life-saving needs,” said Deb Go, Samaritan’s Purse Afghan response manager. “We’re making sure evacuees are cared for as individuals and treating people to simple things they might be longing for, especially after having undergone a traumatic situation.”
Children at the center are playing with the more than 50 soccer balls, 30 volleyballs and 50 kites provided by Samaritan’s Purse.
In Australia, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has joined a multi-denominational effort encouraging the Australian government to receive a special refugee intake of an additional 20,000 Afghans, instead of the 3,000 originally announced.
“We live in a troubled world, but every so often we see a moment of such intense trouble that it demands our special attention,” said Martyn Iles, ACL’s managing director. “Australia has often stepped forward at such times to do what we can, for those who are persecuted, displaced, and hurting. Afghanistan is such a moment.”
The government of Canada announced last month that it will resettle 20,000 vulnerable Afghans. The Jesus Network, based in the Toronto area, has been ministering to Afghans for several years, with Afghan Church of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) holding worship in two locations as well as a TV ministry called Afghan Online Christian TV. For the past year, the ministry has been working to raise funds to bring more Afghan Christians to Canada, and the recent developments have caused the ministry to increase those efforts.
The United Kingdom has also committed to take up to 20,000 Afghans, and more than 600 churches have signed up through Welcome Churches to welcome and aid Afghan arrivals.
In the U.S., the Associated Press reports that the Biden administration has requested funding from Congress to help resettle 65,000 Afghans by the end of September and 95,000 by September 2022.
Send Relief, the compassion ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention, has made a number of resources available to churches that want to help, including a “Care for Refugees” video workshop offered in partnership with World Relief.
Writing at Denison Forum’s Sept. 20 Daily Article, Shane Bennett of the Christian organization Muslim Connect suggests five things individual Christians can do to show love to Afghans arriving in the U.S.:
- Pray that God will “open doors, comfort hearts and bring people to Himself.”
- Give to help with the material needs of refugees, many of whom have little more than the clothes on their backs.
- Befriend refugees who settle in your area.
- Lobby your church to get involved by making “strategic contributions of attention, prayer, money and friendship.”
- Extend kindness to any Muslims in your area, whether Afghan refugees or not.
“May the God who opened doors for this blessed influx of Afghans open up opportunities for each of us, as he sees fit, to extend the love, grace, present peace, and hope of Jesus to both newly arriving Afghans and Muslims all over,” Bennett writes.
Photo: US Army Photo/Alamy Stock Photo