Hi there, Giovanna here (not my real name, for security reasons…)
Here is part 8 of my blog ‘A personal reflection on ‘serving in Afghanistan” – if you missed the earlier parts, here they are:
Last time I shared re “Zainab” and how she watched the Jesus film.
This blog is partly about men! How male Afghans watched the Jesus film and the impact it had on them!
On one public showing (in Pakistan on Church of Pakistan premises…it certainly couldn’t happen in Afghanistan) I sat next to an Afghan refugee living in Pakistan at that time. Let’s call him Stephen. I knew him well and had met his family. He had become a believer. It was easier for single young men away from home and out of the oversight and pressure of their communities to become Christians. Few women however at that point because even in a refugee situation they still had no control over their lives and could not go where they pleased. I can’t tell you Stephen’s full story in the context of this blog. Pity because the circumstances that led him to become a Christian were so clearly from God.
We sat watching the film. Both before the film and during it I felt extremely irritated! To my very organized mind everything seemed so disorganised with people arriving late, people going in and out, also I think it was late starting, set up wasn’t done well…etc. etc.
The film finished and we went our separate ways. A few days later we met and I asked him what he thought of the film. I expected him to respond as I had, to mention the disorganisation and distractions. He didn’t.
He said, “When I looked at the screen I just saw Jesus!”
Of course I said nothing. Clearly he had grasped what the film was about and I was looking at the periphery things. Humbling for me but how wonderful his response! He was a man of great character and helped me on several occasions showing incredible wisdom. I can’t relate them as people could put the pieces together and know who he was. It is important no one is endangered by this blog.
I don’t know where he is right now. All I CAN say is that something bad and unexpected happened and he may have been in a situation after that that really challenged his faith. Sometimes I imagine that we will meet again. I know he was a true believer so I pray that God our Father will have used his situation to shape his life for the best.
On another occasion (this time in the UK) we arranged to show the Jesus film to a group oflranian and Afghan men…when we suggested it they were very keen to watch it AGAIN! Tums out most had already seen it before…the Afghans in Afghanistan and the Iranians in Iran. SO they had seen the film while in Afghanistan under the Taliban in the 1990s just shows you how God’s word is not chained. Some were already believers.
They were so excited by the film, obviously the crucifixion and resurrection, but also the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus’ teaching is significantly different to Islam and the Sermon on the Mount was often commented on by Muslims I knew.
Back to women. One day when we showed the film in Pakistan we did it on an afternoon for ladies so they could bring their children (otherwise they couldn’t come).
We had a tea party beforehand. To say that it was chaos is an understatement some of the women were determined to fill their plates but then left a lot of food. The guests I had brought were among the worst on the politeness scale!
When we started the film many ladies were in and out all the time and the children were running about and calling. Every time the door opened the light would go across the screen so you couldn’t see properly (we were in a smaller room than the usual big screen showings) and the women were calling across to each other and talking. Most were village women, unused to giving something their sustained attention. Babies were crying, nappies were being changed, toddlers wouldn’t keep still of course. It was depressing…
all our efforts for what?
An Afghan friend of mine who became a Christian (long story, again I can’t tell it here but how God drew her to him over her teen years and into her 20s in Afghanistan, where there is no visible sign of Christianity and then no access to scriptures, is a blessing to hear) used the Jesus film to disciple a group of illiterate Afghan ladies she knew. It was the only tool she had in the days before the internet. She said they were very interested and attentive. She would play a section and explain it and talk about it in each lesson. Now with the internet we have so many more resources available online.
All Afghan believers aren’t poor and uneducated. I have met some in high positions but I wouldn’t be able to even mention them here. Pray for them. Some educated Afghan friends saw the film and we discovered much later that they were studying the Bible secretly to “see who Jesus was” as they put it.
Next time I have a guest blogger who will share some of her experiences about living in Afghanistan.
p.s. Would you like to find out more about Christian mission in Afghanistan?