As the final American plane left Afghanistan, meeting both the Taliban and the president’s deadline, I feel exceedingly grateful for all those evacuated and now safely home. However, my heart grieves for our family left behind.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we have Afghani brothers and sisters in Christ who are now left to their own defenses. The past twenty years have provided unprecedented opportunity for many to hear the Gospel and put their faith in Jesus. Still, Afghanistan has never been a safe place for Christians. Following Christ has always been dangerous and costly there, and now human protection is gone.
We know from reports in the past few weeks that the Taliban has brutalized families, sexually enslaved girls and women, shattered communities, and killed Christians. In mid-August, an anonymous Afghan pastor issued a call to prayer, asking believers around the world to fast and intercede for his country and people.
As freedom’s window has now closed, I wonder about that pastor. Is he still alive? Is his family safe? Is his community of believers protected? Or are his daughters now serving the sexual whims of Taliban warriors? Are his sons being re-educated? Is his wife lost to him? Are his fellow believers separated and starving?
I cannot quit thinking about our Christian family left behind in Afghanistan. As a mother, I mourn with them for their sons and daughters. As a pastor’s wife, I grieve with them for their pain. As a ministry leader, I hear their desperate cries for help and cannot just let them go.
We know the Taliban hates Christians. Their history is record of that. Today, out of the watchful eye of the world, Christ-followers in Afghanistan are surely experiencing their own version of Revelation’s great tribulation. So, as American Christians, even as we celebrate the homecoming of our troops and citizens, we cannot forget our precious family in Christ left behind in South-Central Asia.
Like that Afghan pastor sent out his call for prayer, the Apostle Paul sent his own prayer request from that part of the world. Think about his words:
“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” 1 Corinthians 1:8-11
If our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan are now experiencing that “deadly peril” or “sentence of death,” there may be little we can do for them in the physical realm, but there is everything we can do in the spiritual realm.“You also must help us by prayer,” Paul beseeched believers in his day. And so we can do for our brothers and sisters today.
Let’s pray for our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan, as well as for those believers in other dangerous places like Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, China, Somalia and India. Let’s pray that their faith would remain strong, that they would rely on God, that they would have hope, that their sons and daughters would continue to follow Jesus despite the risk, and that they would all experience God’s grace to help in their time of need. Let’s pray for rescue operations and provision, and then let’s take action as God leads us.
I have set my phone alarm with a reminder every day at 4 p.m. to “Pray 4” these brothers and sisters. To stand in the gap for them. To beseech our all-powerful God to work mightily on their behalf. To ask Him to do the miraculous in their lives.
I’m encouraging my kids, family and ministry to do this, too: to intentionally “pray 4” for the truly pressing needs of other believers.
American Church, let’s all do this. As individuals, families and communities of faith, let’s uplift our brothers and sisters in need around the world.
“You also must help us by prayer,” they cry.
Yes, let’s “Pray 4” our family, in Jesus’ Name, amen.
ToshaLamdin Williams is married to senior pastor Kelly M. Williams and the mother of five. She co-founded Vanguard Church of Colorado Springs in 1997 and started the nonprofit Family Disciple Me, which provides free, easily accessible discipleship resources. Tosha podcasts about weekly discipleship conversations at “It Starts with a Conversation“. She is a graduate of Liberty University (BS Communications, 1993) and Dallas Theological Seminary (MABS, 1996).