Ministry cautious in wake of Pope’s comments and Day of Rage.

By September 27, 2006

Afghanistan (MNN)–Three words are causing great concern around the world: “Yaum al Ghadab,” Arabic for “Day of Rage.”

Those were the words of a cleric who was responding to Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks about Muslims. It might have sounded like a rallying call for street violence, because it comes on the heels of international furor over a cartoon that poked fun at Mohammed.

Despite the inflammatory feel, the actual day (September 22) passed without marked incident. Moderate Islamic leaders pointed out that calling for such a day was freedom of expression, and the freedom to protest peacefully. Such ‘freedom of religion’ ideas are more Western in nature and new to a culture centuries old.

For some, protest becomes an excuse for violence, so when a cleric calls for such protest, the danger level rises in areas prone to religious violence.

Interserve’s John Kennedy says one of their partners in Afghanistan confirmed, “The imams had called for a ‘Day of Rage’ where they encourage the Muslim people to protest, go into the streets and so on.”

Although, Kennedy notes, “Our people have learned over the years, that they are tuned into those kinds of pronouncements and warnings and they have to lie low. They have to not go out,” but that doesn’t equate not pursuing outreach.

Interserve has micro-enterprise initiatives, healthcare and community development programs in Afghanistan. Kennedy says it won’t affect their work in the long-term.

Their unstoppability comes from their mission: sharing Jesus Christ in holistic ministry where He is least known. “We continue to place people in that part of the world and in other parts of the Muslim world. We do it wisely and carefully. We have protocols in all of our fields, no matter where we place people. As to when they’re to hibernate or lie low, when they’re to make plans and carry out an evacuation or whatever, and when they can stay.”

Continue to lift up Interserve’s team members in prayer, that their testimony remains clear, and that they are wise during this time.

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