Afghan Refugees: How God Uses Prayer and the Power of Hospitality
It takes a certain amount of humility to ask someone else to pray for you and your loved ones. I say humility, because a request for prayer acknowledges we face something out of our hands. And while we may not be too surprised to hear fellow Christians request prayer, we may think it unusual when the request comes from someone who does not even believe in the God to whom we pray.
A few months ago, I attempted to share the gospel with a lady who admitted she believed not in any one God in particular, but that every person could pursue whatever god he or she sees fit. At one point she asked me to pray for her. I responded, “Which god do you want me to pray to?” The question caught her off guard. I was able to tell her, “I’m happy to pray for you, but I’m convinced that prayer only works if there’s a God big enough to do something when we ask him. And I think there is.”
Calling Into the Air for Help
Similar things are happening among Afghan people who do not know the God to whom Christians pray. Nevertheless, Afghan people ask Christians they know for prayer regarding the current crisis in Afghanistan. As Tim Keller says:
“All human beings have some knowledge of God available to them. At some level, they have an indelible sense that they need something or someone who is on a higher plane and infinitely greater than they are. Prayer is seeking to respond and connect to that being and that reality, even if it is no more than calling out into the air for help.”(Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God [New York: Dutton, 2014], 45).
Amid terror, Afghan people—virtually all of whom (more than 99% of the more than 30 million residents) identify as Muslim—are asking for prayer from Christians they know. They could “call out into the air for help,” but instead, they humbly request intercession from believers. On the one hand, this is surprising. But on another hand, doesn’t it make sense to cry out for divine intercession and to invoke others to do the same when extremists take over your homeland? Yet where do people who live in unreached nations find Christians?
An Unlikely Prayer Center
The nation of Bosnia in south central Europe is not exactly a hub of Christianity. Less than 10,000 of its 3.7 million people (about 0.2%) claim to be born again. But among the relatively few saints there, Live Global established a partnership with Zijah and Lorena, leaders of a small Bosnian church prioritizing ministry to middle eastern refugees.
For more than five years, their church has been able to provide housing and other physical needs to refugees from Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. Though this type of work is challenging and, at times, overwhelming, these acts of hospitality paved the way for the gospel to be shared among the visitors.
Through these efforts, Zijah and Lorena have discovered some interesting disparities.
- A vast majority of the Iranian refugees were believing Christians already, a remarkable testament to the work that God has done.
- Fewer refugees from Pakistan were Christians, but even among those who were not, some at least personally knew other Christians from their home country. Around 4 million Pakistanis are believers out of about 200 million residents (2%, compared to about 96% Muslim).
- None of the Afghan refugees were Christians, and none of them even knew an Afghan Christian.
That final fact makes it even more remarkable that Afghan refugees would seek the prayers of Christians on behalf of their family members and friends who remain in Afghanistan. Or does it?
Their only experience of Christianity has been felt as they been given shelter and provisions, as they witnessed the local church display in actions what they proclaim with words. Bosnian believers serve them and pray for them.
How Now Shall We Pray?
Let us not forget we share an eternal brotherhood with believers from all ages and all nations, including those whom God redeems from central Asia and southern Europe. It is not any less remarkable that He would save people in North America.
In our solidarity with these believers, let us pray in these ways:
- Safe evacuation of Afghans who wish to leave the country and success of those seeking to aid those efforts.
- May God save many Afghans for His glory who at this moment are His enemies.
- Swift judgment of those who remain in opposition to Him.
- Pray for Zijah and Lorena to continue to lead their church in Bosnia to care for refugees.
- Provision for all that is needed for Zijah and Lorena’s to minister such care through our generosity.
- For the growth of the Iranian church to attract many Afghans to Christ and His gospel, so similar revival would happen in Afghanistan.
- That the suffering of the Afghan people would be alleviated.
- Most of all, pray that Afghan people would be spared from eternal suffering through the spread of the gospel.
(All statistics are based on the information found in Operation World).