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  • Writer's pictureJeff Conway

Afghanistan: Deep Concern, But Gratitude

I must confess I was finding myself being quite manic last week. The images were too overwhelming most of the time. The manic energy led my brain to places of wanting to make a difference. “I can no longer easily travel around the world, but I can still make a difference,” my over-charged brain was telling me. I could help some friends get out of Afghanistan. I just read the article about the woman from Oklahoma who helped a group of girls who were part of an Afghan robotics team escape. I had accomplished things around the world on three continents. I could do this. I could at least help one family get safely to the airport.

I started reaching out to people who could have some contacts that could help me to get directly in touch with people who could help. I knew it would be a challenge, but my manic mind was singularly focused. I began hearing from people that trying to help could actually cause more danger and harm to my friend and his family. “No, there must be a way,” I thought. Then I was hearing from people with contacts to international diplomats similar words of concern, not steps of action. Ugh. “There must be some way!” Then, somewhere along this journey, God smacked my manic mind. Always a good thing.

I finally called a different NGO friend, who has been back living in the States for a number of years now after close to twenty years in and out of Afghanistan. The grief he and his wife are feeling is layered and painful. I told him about my idea to get our friend out of the country. I then finally calmed my manic brain and asked the important question:

“Does he want to leave Afghanistan?”

“No,” my friend replied. “He wants to stay.”

“Why?” My brain thought. And the answer came.

“He wants to keep working for the agency he is with and ask for a transfer to a less volatile city where the rest of his wider family resides. His income takes care of all of them and he doesn’t want to leave the country and possibly lose that opportunity to support them all.”

Conviction. I was so sure I knew what was right for him. Completely. And it turns out I was completely wrong. Not only was my idea dangerous, it wasn’t desired.

We all want to help in this very complicated situation and there are much better ways than the one I began working on. The most critical is to share finances and other resources with the many refugees who will need help for a number of years. If you end up with some refugees near you, how wonderful and life-giving for all of you to form a friendship. And, most certainly, continue to pray for all Afghans, in country and out.

Here is an article I read from the New York Times that has been one of the better ones. It describes the complexities of the Troop withdrawal from the country: click here.

Let's Pray:

Loving and Holy God, Creator of the universe and all living things, we thank you that you have revealed your love and desire to be in relationship with all humanity. You, Living and Holy Spirit, are our guide, walking alongside us, convicting us and encouraging us to love your creation and all humanity just as you do.

Lord Jesus, our hearts and minds grieve as we watch the images and hear the personal accounts of Afghans trying to escape the Taliban’s almost certain, brutal reign. With little centralized leadership, individuals act out without accountability. Lord, teach them about your love and care. Convict and change lives as only YOU can. May our prayers not be about our hope but YOUR true hope. Help us not to forget that even in the midst of horrible human mess you are still present and working.

Wild and Wonderful Spirit, breathe your life-giving gift upon Afghanistan. Continue to empower and protect the seeds that you have planted in the hearts of many Afghan people. May they be agents of your love, grace, and peace in a chaotic land. As the beautiful aroma of spices rises during meal times, may the aroma of your presence rise and spread through the lives of all the Afghan people.

We believe, Gracious God, that you are far bigger than we could ever imagine. We believe that you are intimately present in Afghanistan. We believe that it is you who can bring lasting and peaceful change.

Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, we praise your holiness, your greatness, and your mystery.


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About Jeff


I've always been a fish out of water (and I love fish). From being an artist in a sports family, to a Christian who leans into the mystery of God while still trained in a Word-centered mainline tradition, and now a person in a wheelchair amongst able-bodied hikers, my life has perpetually been outside the box (or bowl). 

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