“Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.” Hebrews 13:3
As Taliban forces have swallowed up Afghanistan and even now the capital city of Kabul, pastors in the country have been emailing and messaging me over the last few days, even hours, anxious for prayer.
Pastoring just a short flight away in the United Arab Emirates, I’ve had the opportunity to build partnerships with these men over the last decade. One house church leader sent me a picture of the small room he was hiding in with his family. He wrote, “This is where I am living. We are hidden right now in different areas.”
Another pastor wrote, “We can’t go out like normal. It’s dangerous. We moved to one of my friend’s houses, but it’s not safe at all.” Mindy Belz at WORLD reports that pastors say the Taliban has contacted them saying they are coming for them.
Here are specific ways they have asked for you and your church to pray.
1. Physical Protection and Provision
I asked one brother if he was presently in physical danger. He replied, “Not only me but my family too…because of me.”
We need to pray that our sovereign God would physically protect our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan. Boldly go to the throne of the universe and plead with our God to restrain evil and confuse the plans of evildoers.
Pray also for physical provision. One brother asked that we would pray “for financial issues because no one can take out money from the bank and ATM’s are empty.”
A number have specifically asked that we would pray for visas to get out of the country. So let me throw in an additional request to you, dear reader: Is helping secure a visa something that you or someone you know are in a position to help with? If so, do what you can.
Whether you are or not, you do have access to the throne of the universe, and you can ask our heavenly Father to provide. Pray for physical protection and provision.
“O God, whom I praise, don’t stand silent and aloof while the wicked slander me and tell lies about me. They surround me with hateful words and fight against me for no reason.” Psalm 109:1-3
2. Spiritual Provision
Every church leader who has emailed or texted me has asked that we would pray for the Lord to strengthen them in their faith—that they would “stay strong in the Lord, who is the Sovereign King,” as one put it.
“Pray for me to be strong in my faith. It is really hard to stay here,” said another.
If you are reading this, you have the opportunity to ask God to protect and even increase the faith of our brothers and sisters in the Afghan church. They don’t know what today—much less tomorrow—will bring. But they can be certain that our God will supply every need of theirs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:19).
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
“We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need.” Colossians 1:11a
3. Gospel Advance
One brother described these days as “dark” and said they feel like a “storm.” Then he asked that we pray for “revival.” What faith! Here is a man whose life is in danger asking us, who enjoy so many privileges and freedoms, to pray that God would open the eyes of the spiritually blind and give life to dead hearts.
Wouldn’t it be like our God to work in these horrible circumstances to make his great name known? While our Afghan brothers and sisters face terrible uncertainty, we should be like the believers in Acts 12 who themselves faced serious threats and persecution but, without ceasing, offered up earnest prayers to God.
“Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we ask you to pray for us. Pray that the Lord’s message will spread rapidly and be honored wherever it goes, just as when it came to you. Pray, too, that we will be rescued from wicked and evil people, for not everyone is a believer.” 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2
“I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27
“Our Hope Is Not in Politics, but in Jesus”
Over the past weeks, U. S. missions agencies have pulled out their workers. I have had the great privilege to minister the Word to some of them as they have processed their own grief and confusion. I’m grateful they could get out. Pray for them as well as for any who chose to stay.
But pray especially for the Afghans who have no choice but to stay, such as one brother who has already spent time imprisoned for his faith in Afghanistan. He has assured me again and again, “We can trust that our Lord is mighty and will care for his children.” And: “Our hope is not in politics but in Jesus who is the King.”
This is not escapism. This is biblical faith when all earthly prospects are completely bleak. Don’t you know that such faith brings great glory and joy to our Father in heaven?
While these days are dark and tragic, remember that God sits on his throne in the heavens. He holds the rulers of this world in derision. He promises to make the nations his Son’s heritage, the ends of the earth his possession (Psalm 2:4,8).
This blog was originally published on 9 Marks