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Giovanna’s blog on ‘Christian ministry in Afghanistan’ – Part 3

Christian ministry in Afghanistan – Part 3

Hi there

Giovanna here (not my real name, for security reasons…). Here is part 3 of my blog ‘A personal reflection on ‘serving in Afghanistan” – if you missed the earlier parts, here are part 1 and 2

First let’s talk about the truly awful attack outside a school in a Shia area of Kabul just over a week ago. It was in the same area as the attack on the maternity hospital last year where women were killed as they lay on the birthing tables, unable to run, even some were in the middle of giving birth…killed with the nearly newborns! How horrible! It was an atrocity and how can our words express the horror of it!

I know Afghans who live in this area, I have been there myself and I know people who work in that school. Afghans I know said they cried when they heard the news. Events like this produce fear… for their children and for the future. Let me tell you that what you see reported on the news is only a fraction of what happens in Afghanistan.

The Psalmist cries out in Psalm 13 and my heart cries out too:

How long Oh Lord, how long?

Christians in and out of Afghanistan have prayed for decades and yet the violence there just gets worse.

Shia (or Shiites) are a minority Islamic religious group despised as not orthodox by the Taliban and others. In Afghanistan the Hazara people are the main minority ethnic group and are Shia so historically they have often been treated badly/been the scapegoats many times. They look different and generally are poorer. I will do a biog about them at some point in the future.

Meanwhile, to happier topics, this week the month of Ramadan finishes and there is a three day holiday called Eid ul Fitr. This is a time when (security permitting) locals visit their families, neighbours and friends. People may show up to your house for 15-20 minutes for a cup of tea and a piece of cake. This is a wonderful time to show hospitality in a culture where hospitality is greatly valued. It’s very special when to host local colleagues and show respect by participating in a part of their culture/religion.

Sadly deteriorating security can often mean people won’t visit and whereas it used to be possible to visit Afghan houses (even in Ramadan for the fast breaking) now it happens much less often. Afghans are afraid that having expats to their houses will attract attention and put them in danger.

Overt proclamation is very dangerous in Afghanistan but having relevant conversations with friends can happen. Visiting houses however usually means you are visiting the whole family. Rarely would you be in a one to one visit. In some cases many people will be present as families are large and other visitors may be there too. In village visits I have known neighbours all pile in to see the “foreigner”. So anything you say certainly isn’t going to be confidential. To learn to communicate effectively in such a situation takes some learning.

Many Muslims have been working alongside expat believers for many years who show no outward interest in the Gospel. The same is true in the UK.
It is hard to know sometimes what, if anything, is going on internally but testimonies from those who have become believers sometimes demonstrate that they have been struggling for years with what they have heard and seen in the lives of Christians so we need to continue in relationships and taking opportunities. I know a believer who didn’t think for one minute his very conservatively minded and active Muslim sister would ever become a Christian. After many years she did and shared how much inner torment she had been through and how she and her mother eventually started studying the Bible secretly and both became Christians together. Others can respond more quickly, often those who are away from home/out of their community/in a crisis situation.

One to one situations in language lessons and even one to one work meetings can often be natural and easier for conversation. Questions can come up suddenly when people are facing personal difficulties. Praying for people is always possible. No one rejects a personal prayer for them or their family.

“My food”, said Jesus in John’s Gospel, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” And “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry…”

Speak to you next week.

Giovanna

p.s. Would you like to find out more about Christian mission in Afghanistan?

How can I / our church get involved in Central Asian mission?

Mission Trips

Mission Opportunities

Online Mission presentation

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