Heartbreaking images and news reports coming from Afghanistan last week of the Taliban regime ruthlessly conquering the once democratically governed Muslim nation has sent shockwaves of fear and frustration across the globe.
Islamic terrorists have murdered government loyalist, raped women and children and mercilessly pillaged one Afghan province after another en route to capturing the country’s capital city of Kabul as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the presidential palace.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul has been evacuated although as of August 19 as many as 15,000 Americans and numerous Afghan allies faced a perilous passage to the Hamid Karzai International Airport for evacuation.
AMERICA’S RETURN ON INVESTMENT IN AFGHANISTAN
Over the past two decades, more than 2,300 American military personnel have sacrificed their lives in Afghanistan while another 20,000-plus bear the scars of defending freedom in a part of the world that had served as a safe haven for some of America’s fiercest enemies.
Meanwhile, hundreds of billions of dollars seemingly have been wasted on rebuilding Afghanistan’s infrastructure, military, government and economy, all of which are now under control of Islamic extremists.
Nathan Sales, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, wrote in an expert briefing: “The Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan is the best news al-Qaeda has had in decades. With the Taliban back in charge of the country, it is virtually certain that al-Qaeda will reestablish a safe haven in Afghanistan and use it to plot attacks on the United States.”
Sales continued: “The terrorist group responsible for 9/11 will soon find itself flush with cash looted from Afghanistan’s central bank, with weapons seized from the defeated Afghan army, and with fighters freed from prison.”
Britain’s defense minister agreed, warning that al-Qaeda likely will have a resurgence as Afghanistan fell to the Taliban. And Robert M. Gates, secretary of defense for Presidents George W.Bush and Barack Obama from 2006 to 2011, wrote in the New York Times that the Taliban “still maintain ties with al-Qaeda.”
Gates asked, “Why should we assume they will no longer harbor al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups that seek to target those—above all, the United States—that ousted them from power and have been fighting them for twenty years?” He concluded in his June 2021 article that “the consequences of another Taliban takeover in Kabul would not be limited to the people of Afghanistan.” Now that takeover has been accomplished.
Open Doors ranked Afghanistan as the second-most dangerous country in the world for Christians even before the Taliban took control. Now a pastor who built churches in Afghanistan is warning that the Taliban will “exterminate” the church there.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF NATION BUILDING
Yet, at the same time, a different kind of “nation building” is underway in Afghanistan and around the globe. And it is not being led by NATO forces or the U.S. military and its allies. Instead, this Kingdom is empowered by Holy omnipotence—not at the behest of elected officials or rogue dictators. No army or resistance can thwart God’s Kingdom advance.
While manmade kingdoms come and go, the King of the universe is advancing His Kingdom (Matthew 4:17) and he “shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
Consequently, in spite of the increasing attacks against Afghan Christians, they are standing firm in their commitment to their Lord by testifying with the Apostle Paul, “I know whom I have believed” (2 Timothy 1:12). And they are claiming God’s promise, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).
For instance, in early July, Afghan pastors and church leaders courageously decided to officially register their faith with the Afghan government. Despite the inherent dangers of such a proclamation, they did so for the sake of their children and grandchildren: “Someone should make this sacrifice so the next generations can openly call themselves followers of Jesus.”
Likewise, Christian missionaries who have served in Afghanistan over the past 20 years are not surprised by the emboldened faith of Afghan Christians, which number nearly 12,000 in a country of 37 million people. One explained his work: “We’re just empowering them to do what they want to do to serve their own people.” Missionaries describe the remarkable hospitality they experienced from the Afghan people. Christianity Today adds that “a small but vibrant group of Afghan Christians pray and worship” in the country despite all opposition.
AN ETERNAL KINGDOM
These Christians understand what we need not forget: God’s Kingdom transcends any nation—past, present and future. His word is clear: “Kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations” (Psalm 22:28). The future of all nations is equally clear: “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You” (v. 27).
Conversely, “the nation and kingdom that will not serve You shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste” (Isaiah 60:12). This is because, as God says, “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10).
Furthermore, God will be exalted among the nations in heaven as well. John envisioned “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9).
Edward Graham, a 16-year Army special operations officer and Billy Graham’s grandson, led six combat missions in Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on American soil. Since retiring from the Army, Edward has joined the Christ-centered global humanitarian ministry of Samaritan’s Purse.
PRAY FOR AFGHANISTAN
Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, is calling Christians around the world to make this Sunday, August 22, a Day of Prayer for Afghanistan.
Edward offers these prayer requests for Afghanistan:
• Pray for the safety and eternal salvation of the Afghan people.
• Pray for persecuted Christians in Afghanistan.
• Pray for a peaceful pathway that would allow people to escape.
• Pray for countries accepting and resettling refugees.
• Pray for the fall of the Taliban.