It’s heartbreaking to watch the emerging scenes in Afghanistan. Whatever you made of the initial invasion, the fact that 20 years of bloodshed, toil and progress have collapsed back into Taliban rule in just a matter of days feels utterly tragic.
Today, above all, we must pray for the people of Afghanistan. That’s not some trite soundbite – I really mean it. We must actually get on our knees and ask for the Lord’s help for that nation which has known so much conflict and so little peace. We must pray that God would restrain those intent on evil, and we must pray for the tiny Christian church there.
Even before the Taliban resurgence, life for Christians was dangerous. Open doors report that; “If a Christian’s family discovers they have converted, their family, clan or tribe has to save its ‘honour’ by disowning the believer, or even killing them. Christians from a Muslim background can also be sectioned in a psychiatric hospital, because leaving Islam is considered a sign of insanity”.
With Taliban rule reinstated things are even more desperate. In a message to a fellow Christian Minister is the UAE, one Afghan pastor explained
“[with Taliban rule] We can’t go out like normal. It’s dangerous. We moved to one of my friend’s houses, but it’s not safe at all.”
Other reports say that known Christian leaders are being contacted by Taliban to say “we know where you are and we’re coming for you”.
We will be focussed on Afgahnistan in our prayer meeting on Wednesday. Can I invite you to read these three articles to guide your prayers?
Our thoughts also turn to Western families who have lost their sons and daughters in the conflict, how must they feel today? Was their sacrifice in vain? We must commit them to God and leave this in his hands.
In a much smaller way we may find ourselves asking the same question in the Christian life. We are called to sacrifice much for the sake of Jesus – to lay aside sin, to live a costly life of service for others and commitment to our Lord. If we’re actually doing that – living for Christ so that is really costs us – we’re bound sometimes ask – ‘is it worth it?’ – Is it worth sharing the gospel with a world that may reject me? Is it worth leading the youth group who don’t seem engaged? Is it worth giving huge amounts of my time, talent and treasure to the cause of Jesus?
To us Jesus himself would say
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life” [Mark 10:29-30]
Jesus says sacrifice for the gospel is never wasted – he will provide for us in this life and bless us beyond measure in the life to come.
Our Afghan brothers and sisters are making great sacrifices for Jesus. May we learn from them and pray for them. Remember too our outdoor invitation service this Sunday – may we make the most of the great freedom we have to invite many to come along – freedom Afghan Christians can only dream of.
With every blessing