1 Sep 2021 • Articles
I write this letter after returning from a lovely day spent with my daughter and granddaughters, both of whom are flourishing at school and delighting in all that life offers them. As I looked at the fourteen year old, my mind cast me back to the images witnessed this week on our television screens of those trying to flee Afghanistan and the horror stories emerging of actions waged against some of those who have been enjoying roles which women never had until fairly recently. Fifteen year-olds are now being forced into marriage by Taliban fighters whom they have never known. The Taliban vowed in a press conference yesterday to forgive those who fought them and to respect women’s rights within Islamic law. Yet a group of female special- forces soldiers trained by the British said that they had been forced into hiding and stopped from getting to a visa- processing centre. Only time will tell how things progress. Yet in every horror story there are rays of hope as military flights escort as many as possible to safety. An American plane intended to hold one hundred and thirty four soldiers sitting on either side of the plane, took off with six hundred and forty men, women and children crammed onto the floor of the plane and it landed safely in Quatar. The pilot decided not to remove any of the passengers and took off when air traffic control gave the green light.
Christians both inside and outside the United States disagree on what the US government and military should have done. But they are trying to apply their faith to help them understand how to best advocate for justice in the aftermath. Mark Tooley, the editor of Providence: Journal of Christianity & American Foreign Policy and the president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy says. “This war like all wars reflects human depravity. It’s inevitable and inescapable. And yet we can admire the sacrifice and courage of all—American, Afghan, and various NATO personnel, who laboured and sacrificed that Afghanistan might escape the ravages of the past. There have been many successes: longer lives, greater health, more education, more freedoms—across 20 years. These victories will not be entirely smothered by the Taliban. And we can assume that the church in Afghanistan, however small, has planted seeds whose fruit will be harvested across future generations in ways we cannot imagine.”
We pray that Afghanistan will rise up like a phoenix from the ashes, this time stronger and wiser. May the Holy Spirit touch the Taliban so that they remain soft-hearted and recognise the human rights of all the people. The global body of Christ needs to express Christian love and compassion to the Taliban and share the blessing and joy that God has given us.
We pray for Afghanistan- that the Taliban stick to their promises of a freer society with women participating in all aspects of life and girls/women in school and that followers of Jesus in that country will grow in number and maturity and bless it with transforming deeds and words for we are called to build God’s kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven.”
Yours in Christ
The Rev’d Irene Smith is an OLM within the Uttoxeter Benefice of Parishes and a Self-Supporting Minister at Checkley.