Massacre in Afghanistan strengthens relief workers resolve

By June 14, 2004

Afghanistan (MNN) — “Terrorist elements” are being blamed for the massacre of 11 Chinese reconstruction workers last week. The increasing amounts of violence are a concern for Christian workers in that country.

Hope International’s Dave Larson just returned from Afghanistan where they’re establishing a micro-finance institution. “A micro-finance institution is a Christian ministry that basically provides small loans to people so they can start or expand businesses and thus be able to provide for themselves and their family,” says Larson.

Larson says there’s a spiritual significance to what Hope International is doing. He says, “Certainly in the sense of following Christ’s command to care for the poor and also to be a witness through tangible, concrete acts of love to people who, for the most part, don’t yet know and follow Christ.

Violence isn’t a surprise in that area of the world, says Larson. He says, “A lot of the terrorism and extremism that occurs is borne out of situations where they feel they have no other options, they feel like they have nothing else they can do.” So Larson believes helping small businesses is a weapon in the war on terrorism.

While the violence appears to be increasing Larson says it doesn’t mean Hope International will cut and run. “To give up, to pull out, to not do anything is to kind of perpetuate that cycle. We need to be addressing the root causes. And, to a certain extent, at least, the root causes are poverty, including spiritual poverty.”

While much of this country is starved spiritually because of the Taliban, Larson says people are hungry for Christ. “The events of the last few years have actually led to far greater openness, far greater interest in the things of Christ than ever before because people are seeing the fruits of extremism and some of the fruits of a different view of what it means to follow God.”

Funding is needed to help Hope International continue its work in Afghanistan. Pray that God will protect workers from violence and the peace would reign across the country.

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