Families flee as foreign forces depart, Taliban gains ground

By July 16, 2021

Afghanistan (MNN) — Global leaders and Afghanistan’s neighbors end a two-day, high-stakes meeting to answer the question: “What now?” Taliban forces gained control of key border crossings in a recent surge following United States troop withdrawals, putting regional leaders on edge. Last week, the Russian Foreign Ministry two-thirds of the Afghan-Tajik border was under Taliban control.

As foreign forces head home and the Taliban gains territory, thousands of people are on the move. Over 270,000 have fled since January, the United Nations reports. More than 5,600 left their homes in the past two weeks alone.

See our full Afghanistan coverage here.

“It’s so important for us right now to stand with them (Afghan believers),” International Media Ministries President Denise Godwin says.

“What an intense time to be praying for people to find hope and have wisdom from God in how to operate in challenging times.”

The U.S. says it will begin evacuating Afghans who helped them at the end of July. The evacuation, dubbed Operation Allies Refuge, begins one month before the forecast completion of troop withdrawals. Former President George W. Bush, whose administration launched the U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, expressed concern in a conversation with Politico.

(Graphic courtesy VOM USA)

Bush mentioned Afghan women and girls, whom he said could “suffer unspeakable harm” at the hands of the Taliban, as well as Afghan interpreters and their families:

“It seems like they’re just going to be left behind to be slaughtered by these very brutal people. And it breaks my heart.”

Hope remains

Even though the Gospel message reached Afghanistan by the second century, 99.8-percent of Afghans are Muslims today. “But we know that God’s always at work,” Godwin says.

“It’s very important that all the doors don’t close.”

Centuries of war and persecution have left Afghanistan virtually devoid of Christian witness. Yet, the same desperate circumstances that forced believers out give Gospel opportunities to those who remain. “People (nonbelievers) are reaching out, and they want to have hope,” Godwin says.

“I talked to people who are working in the region, and they’re using cell phones to communicate with people who are interested. They’re sending videos … they send out audio messages.”

Global ministries like IMM are coming alongside local and regional believers to reach those who do not know Christ. “There [is] a remnant of believers in Afghanistan, as well as some workers that I’ve met and know of in the region, that are making an effort to bring hope,” Godwin says.

“We are partnering with some people who are putting short pieces into local dialects like Pashto and Dari to [potentially make] Women of the Bible stories available for people there.”

Biblical accounts like these help the lost see God’s heart.

“God is amazing how He’s given us stories of destruction, [yet amid the destruction] He’s still using people; there’s still hope,” Godwin says.

“Think of Rahab — she’s in the middle of a civil war, her city is about to fall — and I imagine there are people in Afghanistan who probably are feeling something like that.”
(Photo courtesy of Joel Heard/Unsplash)

“Think of Rahab — she’s in the middle of a civil war, her city is about to fall — and I imagine there are people in Afghanistan who probably are feeling something like that.”

Find your place in the story

You can help IMM put Jesus on every screen by giving to support their work. Most importantly, pray. “Even if you can’t imagine what [Afghan believers experience], it’s so important to be part of their spiritual team,” Godwin says.

Ask the Lord to give His followers courage. Pray for creativity as believers develop media resources for online evangelism.

“It’s easy for us … because so much is in English, but these people don’t have a lot of opportunities to find videos and things in their own language. It’s really important, as Western Christians, to help create more products that can be ministering to that local person on a cell phone, in a small village in Afghanistan, or in Pakistan,” Godwin says.



Header image depicts Apache attack helicopter in Afghanistan, Sep. 2020. (Photo courtesy of Andre Klimke/Unsplash)