Thoughts on the Church in Afghanistan

Thoughts on the Church in Afghanistan

You may not necessarily agree with this, and if you have some knowledge of the church situation there, I’d appreciate your input.

I realise it’s very easy for me to make the following comments from my centrally heated home where I have plenty to eat and drink and live in a very peaceful part of the world. I also don’t have to wonder if the door will suddenly burst open and my children and wife will be taken away, or wonder if I’ll be taken outside and beheaded because I’m a Christian and have a Bible app on my phone. I do not fear for my life. I’m fully aware of all that. And I’m thankful for that too. I shouldn’t despise the providence that God has been pleased to bless me with.

Having said that, here’s my thinking on the situation of the church in Afghanistan. Few would deny the withdrawal has been handled with anything other than total incompetence. Even wickedness. But this too has been brought about by the Sovereign Lord. It isn’t a mistake. As a Christian I’m sure your thoughts turned immediately to the church in that truly awful situation. I do not in any way wish to, or mean to undermine, or trivialise the situation of our brothers and sisters there. Maybe you read some of the reports of Afghani pastors. Perhaps you read about their determination to stand for the Lord Jesus. One can only say, ‘Of whom the world is not worthy (Heb 11:38).’

This is where I might need some specialised help. The Lord Jesus has his people everywhere so we know there must have been Christians in Afghanistan before the US arrived 20 years ago. Probably very few and known only to a few on a need-to-know basis. But it seems to me that the church in Afghanistan, though still small, is a lot larger than it was. And is vocal and visible. I shared this with a friend (originally from Lebanon) the other day who thought it made sense. I asked him this ‘What makes the church grow more than anything else?’ His answer was ‘Persecution.’ Which is exactly right. Was it Tertullian that said, ‘The blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the church?’

If that is true, and church history confirms that it is often the case, then the arrival, or return, of the Taliban, far from destroying the church could in fact be the means by which it will grow and be strengthened. Jesus has said, ‘I will build my church (Matt 16:18).’ It’s His church!

What I’m saying is that for the past 20 years the church has not been dormant. They weren’t 20 wasted years. We’re being told they are wasted years because world governments have no interest whatsoever in the church. Their concern is entirely materialistic. It’s purely utilitarian. So if you are in the military, and a Christian, or even if you are not a Christian, your service there was not in vain.

With all the above in mind then, here are some things that I will be praying:

Pray the Lord of the church with keep them and watch over them.

Pray for the Church that they will remain faithful (even unto death (Rev 2:10).) – and if some of them don’t remain faithful, pray for their restoration.

Pray that even under those terrible circumstances the church, and especially the Pastors, will be bold for Christ.

Pray the church will receive good sound teaching that will build them up in their most holy faith: and for the availability of the Bible, in print, and electronic. And for good literature.

Pray for a real and powerful visitation of God by his Holy Spirit. Upon the church and upon the people.

Pray that God will also visit the Taliban and convert many of them. Pray that their zealous opposition to the Lord Jesus will be turned, like the apostle Paul. “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” Acts 9:21 & 22; Galatians 1: 23 & 24.

Pray that God will open the hearts of the Afghan people to the Gospel and for opportunities to hear the message of life.

We should also thank God that he has a people in Afghanistan at all.

It is a truly terrible situation. Of course it is. I do not minimise that for a moment. But these things, it seems to me, are the things of first importance. Obviously, much could be added to the above that are not unimportant (health, safety etc.).

There’s an irony in that the Taliban think they have come to destroy the church. But God may have brought them to help build it.

And let’s not forget, God will not leave those sins of the Taliban, or of wicked evil Western governments that abandoned them, to go unpunished. God will not be mocked, not by Joe Biden, Boris Johnson, the Taliban, or by anyone else.

I don’t have a direct line to the secret plans of the Lord God, but I pray this is so. I could be completely off on this. But why can’t God do it? Let’s pray He will.

Am I talking nonsense? I hope not.

Bulkington Church History Lecture. ‘Henry Havelock: Every inch a soldier and every inch a Christian.’ A Recommendation.

Photo Credit to Andrew Shiva

So yesterday I decided to take a trip to the great metropolis of Bulkington where Jeremy Walker was giving a lecture (at Bulkington Congregational Church) on Henry Havelock. The full lecture title was (Follow link to listen) ‘Henry Havelock – Every inch a soldier and every inch a Christian.’ Here’s what I thought was a key quote (there were many more!) Havelock had ‘An unfashionable faith in an unsympathetic environment.’ And another, one viewed him as ‘Being ready to live or die.’ Jeremy gave an account of his military life. He wasn’t in a position to buy his way up the ranks so any promotions he did have were on his ability as a soldier. Promotions were for specific campaigns but these were short lived and he found himself dropping back down the ranks when his usefulness was over. Nevertheless he did make progress, but it was slow and over many years, unlike some of his contemporaries. Eventually, but after many years, his service was recognised. His Christian faith was a particular barrier to promotion. On top of that he was a Baptist. Interestingly, while in India he met Adoniram Judson – the Baptist missionary.

We were then treated to how his Christian faith fitted in with being a professional soldier. This was just great. But extremely challenging to each of us to be the very best we can be in whatever vocation God by His providence has placed us. He was respected by all even when they thoroughly disliked his Christian faith. His practice was to spend the first two hours of every day in private prayer and reading his Bible. If the column of troops had to leave at 6:00 he would rise at 4:00. If they had to move at 4:00 he would rise at 2:00. This was his daily practice as a Christian and he would not be moved. Unflinching commitment to his Saviour and to his craft as a soldier. Disciplined and professional to the very end.

That is just the briefest account of what was an excellent and challenging lecture. Jeremy delivered it with suitable humour in places and with the utmost respect for this man of God. We can all learn from Henry Havelock and his devotion to The Lord Jesus Christ and his service as a soldier, but I think servicemen or retired members of the armed forces will especially appreciate this lecture.

Christians are finding as Sir Henry found, we also have ‘An unfashionable faith in an unsympathetic environment.’ I enthusiastically commend the lecture to you.

We read this from Wikipedia: ‘Major General Sir Henry Havelock KCB was a British general who is particularly associated with India and his recapture of Cawnpore during the Indian Rebellion of 1857.’

D-Day – What about Salerno – 1943

My Dad wrote an all too brief account of his life – especially his time serving in the 46th Recce Regiment in the Second World War. I’m so sad I didn’t sit down with him and talk more about it. In my defense, he didn’t talk about it much as that generation tended not to do so. In fact, those that are most quiet about these things are those that have seen the most. War is a terrible thing. Here’s a very brief extract from a few sketchy notes he made.

Regroup of all 46th Division – sent to (undecipherable) practice landing not knowing next stop. Better not to know. Soon found out. Landed at Salerno. Lots of casualties. Lost all my kit when co-opted as infantry.

Not so good seeing so many dead and some crying for their mothers.

Lasted only 3 days. Not Bad!!

Bike arrived with ship (He was a Dispatch Rider). Great relief.

Lost a good friend in Italy when I took his place taking a message up line. When I returned farmhouse had been shelled and 3 dead. Saw many things too sad and horrible to mention.

Home on leave for 28 days after 2 years 9 months abroad.

There’s a link to a page about 44 Recce where the 46th is mentioned. I have a book somewhere of my Dad’s called ‘Only The Enemy in Front.’ which I’m sorry to say I have not read. Think it’s time to read it! Extracts from that book are quoted on the 44 Recce website. They were under the command of the US Army. This makes sense because I remember my Dad commenting on how they (The Americans) had all the best equipment!

My Dad saw terrible things, and many times providentially, he was spared.

He wrote this:

Returned to Unit. Posted missing. Never mind. Still in 1 piece.

Although he never came to faith in Christ till later in life, he never forgot the fact he was ‘in 1 piece.’ Some see the horror of war and they become Atheists – or so they say. Others, like my Dad, eventually, by the Grace of God become Christians. So when people say about all the evil in the world as an excuse for not believing God – I don’t buy it. And neither did my Dad! Praise God.

The men of that Generation deserve our thanks. Thank you, Dad, for your service, and those that serve and have served in the cause of freedom.

Below are a few extracts from the book. Worth reading.


Only The Enemy In Front (2008) pp70–71.

The first wave of Fifth Army was at sea between North Africa and Salerno when Italy’s surrender was announced. Hitler had anticipated this and German forces moved to neutralise the Italian army. As leading elements of 46th and 56th British and 36th US Divisions came ashore Kesselring had already deployed von Vietinghoff’s Tenth Army to meet them. Resistance was light at first as Vietinghoff held back his forces until he was certain that the Salerno landings were not a feint; then he hit the Allies with two Panzer and two PanzerGrenadier divisions in an attempt to implement Kesselring’s order that ‘the invading army… must be completely annihilated and… thrown into the sea.’

Two regiments of the Reconnaissance Corps were in the Salerno beachhead. 41 Recce with 46th Division and 44 Recce with 56th Division.

Only The Enemy In Front (2008) pp80–81.

On the west coast of Italy, Fifth Army had entered Naples on 1 October but their struggle on the Salerno beaches has been, to paraphrase Wellington, a close run battle. The two British divisions of X Corps which had been in the first wave of invaders had included recce regiments in their orders of battle. In Fifth Army’s situation there was little scope for the normal operations of a reconnaissance regiment and once again it was a case, for 44th and 46th Regiments, of helping to hold a line.

Believing that the Americans were the weak link in Fifth Army, Kesselring tried to drive a wedge between the British and American elements on the beaches. The attackers had the line of the River Sele as their axis of advance for that river marked the inter-Allied boundary in the beachhead.

On D Day, 9 September, elements of both recce regiments had been among the first troops of their divisions ashore