Most of us have watched the news about Afghanistan with horror, concern, frustration, and a host of other emotions. When facing the gut-wrenching images and concerns about the future of the people of Afghanistan, it is tempting for our thoughts and conversations to descend into political and military concerns. While I do not deny the importance of these solutions, my greater concern is to explore a Great Commission response.
At the end of the book of Matthew, Jesus instructs His followers to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). These are our marching orders. The church of Jesus may take part in many other important activities, but the Great Commission is our primary mandate.
When we face situations like the one we see in Afghanistan, is there anything we can do? I think there is, but let me be clear. Nothing here should diminish the suffering or pain being experienced by others. What follows is an attempt to answer the question, “What can I do?”
1. Be a Pray-er.
One of the most amazing things about prayer is that God actually hears and answers. Consider Jesus’ words in John 15:7: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
When your heart is stirred by the images you see and the stories you hear, take these to the Lord in prayer. Don’t be generic; be specific.
- Pray for the Christians to be protected and courageous.
- Pray for the church leaders to be safe and able to minister to their flocks.
- Pray for the unbelievers to see the emptiness of Islam and find hope in Christ.
2. Be a Servant.
Over the coming weeks, we will see refugees from Afghanistan coming to our cities and neighborhoods. These men and women will carry the devastation, sadness, and horror of war and loss. Jesus said, “‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you visited me. . . . Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:35-36 & 40).
If you look, you will also see that there are people around us who have friends and family members living in Afghanistan. This is a moment we can serve them. We can show love and compassion. In a season when international politics and diplomacy are being questioned, “We are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
- Speak to others.
- Listen to fears.
- Offer to help in tangible ways.
3. Be a Steward.
In the book, The Insanity of God, Nik Ripkin tells the story of a Russian pastor named Stoyan who said: “I took great joy that I was suffering in my country, so that you could be free to witness in your country. . . . Don’t ever give up in freedom what we would never have given up in persecution! That is our witness to the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ!”
As we see what is happening around the world and as we pray for those who find themselves at the tip of the spear of persecution, let’s steward the freedom the Lord has given us. Continuing with the words of Ripkin: “Those who number themselves among the followers of Jesus—but don’t witness for Him—are actually siding with the Taliban, the brutal regime that rules North Korea, the secret police in communist China, and the Somalis and Saudi Arabias of the world. Believers who do not share their faith aid and abet Satan’s ultimate goal of denying others access to Jesus. Our silence makes us accomplices.”
4. Be Informed.
The writer of Hebrews tells us, “Remember those in prison, as though you were in prison with them, and mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily” (Hebrews 13:3).
Remember the last time you hurt some part of your body—broke a limb, got sunburned, pulled a muscle, or had a sore throat? My guess is you paid special attention to that injury. Right now, part of our body is wounded and possibly dying. Let’s be informed so we don’t forget them. Eventually, our news feeds will shift to another hot story, but the fires of persecution and suffering in Afghanistan will continue to burn. Let’s continue to remember.