This past month (August) marked one year since Afghanistan fell to the Taliban.
Because of the generosity of Southern Baptists, Send Relief was able to provide emergency food rations to 1,500 Afghans in need, as well as temporary housing to nearly 1,000 Afghan refugees. Even more exciting, more than 600 people heard the gospel message for the first time, with more than 50 of these accepting Christ as their Savior.
‘The situation hasn’t gone away’
Send Relief Vice President Josh Benton commented, “People aren’t hearing about it as much in the news lately, but the situation hasn’t gone away.”
He added, “There are millions of Afghans fleeing violence and persecution, and this is an amazing opportunity for churches in the United States to respond and follow Christ’s call to welcome the stranger.
This is also an issue that’s bigger than Afghanistan, he noted.
“With more than 27 million refugees worldwide,” Benton said, “it’s clear to see that God is allowing the nations to be stirred. With compassion, hospitality and gospel intention, Send Relief will continue partnering with churches who are reaching the nations in their own communities.”
During the past year, one of the primary ways that Send Relief has partnered with local churches in responding to this refugee crisis is by providing free coaching sessions with our Afghan refugee response specialist, Dana Bomar.
She noted, “Unfortunately, the news that many Americans have seen about Afghanistan over the last two decades has been mostly negative. This is to be expected, as Afghanistan has experienced conflict and suffering for many years now.”
She added, “But there is another story out there that is told considerably less often. It’s a story of the riches of Afghanistan, found in her people who endure despite their many challenges. They are the story worth telling, they are the part most worthy of our embrace.”
“As Afghans coming to the U.S. face some of their most uncertain moments in life, the Church is called to welcome them, serve them and be salt and light to them,” she noted. “It’s true that they come from a different culture than our own and some Christians may wonder, ‘Will I have anything in common with them?’ But in our hearts, we know we are much more alike than different. We know that they too have been made in the image of God and that He longs for them to know Him.”
Message to pastors
Bomar continued, “If I could speak to local pastors and church leaders, I would encourage them to ask themselves, ‘Are we embracing the stranger in need around us? Are we going to the nations that God has placed in our own backyard, just as Christ has called us to? Are we offering hope to those who have truly never heard the good news?’ I would deeply encourage them to step out in faith among their Afghan neighbors and lead others to do the same. And if they need any advice or reassurance on how to start, Send Relief will gladly come alongside them and help them begin. Afghans have a proverb that says, ‘Drop by drop a river is made.’ The same is true here. All we must do is take those first steps, and the rest will follow in faith.”
Click here to read full story and more about Send Relief’s related efforts for refugees in Atlanta, Boston and Denver ministry centers.
*Names changed for security.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Natalie Sarrett and originally published by Send Relief.