Christian humanitarian group responds to Afghan hostage crisis

By July 30, 2007

USA (MNN) — Last week 23 South Korean Christians were taken hostage in Afghanistan. The group from Saem-Mul Protestant Community Church was in the country on a medical missions trip. However, they were taken hostage by the Taliban.

International Aid had work in Afghanistan but pulled out because of increasing threats. IA's President Myles Fish says, "It kind of highlights a trend or a change over the last couple of years. It used to be that if you were on a humanitarian mission in a high conflict area, you were afforded some level of protection just because of the motive of you being there. That's not true in today's conflicts."

He describes what's happening in areas like Afghanistan. "Today's conflict is being driven by insurgencies–in this case the Taliban. Their very objective is to create instability; anything they can do to create instability they have been doing, including targeting relief workers."

Fish cautions Christians about going on short-term mission trips. "I wouldn't recommend that anybody go on a short-term mission trip unless they are going to be hosted by somebody who knows the local environment and is competent to make accurate judgments about the level of risk that they're going to be exposing their guests to."

According to Fish, there are two questions you have to ask yourself before going on a short-term trip. "The first question you have to ask is how much risk are you willing to expose your volunteers or your employees to. And, the second questions comes right after that: how safe does it have to be in order to do what you believe God wants you to do. I have not figured out any secret formula to answer those questions yet."

In a response to the hostage crisis, the South Korean foreign ministry has banned its nationals from traveling to the war-torn country and urged South Koreans already there to get out. South Koreans can be jailed for up to one year or fined up to three million won ($3,631) if they visit banned countries without prior permission.

Fish says Christians can't give up on high risk areas because many in these areas need Christ. "We have been called to be a people of love, to be a people of peace. And any way we can demonstrate who we are, we're attempting to do that. I would invite your listeners to put this on the top of their prayer list and continue to pray about it on a daily basis."

International Aid works in a number of areas where risk is high. Funding is needed to help them with rapid response in emergency situations. Click here to donate.


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