Team Expansion has been making a concerted effort to help displaced people living in camps within Afghanistan since late summer, when U.S. and coalition forces left that war-torn country. This article, which originally appeared at Team Expansion’s website, tells of a key partnership the mission organization has forged with Afghan nationals and how they are working together to provide for needs in that struggling nation. (For more context, see two earlier articles: “Update on Afghanistan: Where Do We Go from Here?” and “Team Expansion’s Afghan Appeal Sees Record Response.”)
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By Carla Williams
When Abdul-Ali* was a young man in Afghanistan, he began training to help convert Christians to Islam. As part of his training, he was given a Bible and he began to study it. As Abdul-Ali learned more about Jesus in the Bible, his questions about Islam began to increase.
Instead of using the Bible against Christians to convert them to Islam, Abdul-Ali found his true way to God through the redeeming blood of Jesus.
When Abdul-Ali left Islam to follow Christ, his family and friends abandoned him. He became a stench to them, unwanted and avoided. But in this season of rejection, Abdul-Ali clung to God. There he found a true Father, a Counselor, Redeemer and Friend. And from the beginning, Abdul-Ali wanted to share his new hope with his beloved Afghanistan.
Two years ago, after working with various non-profit groups and organizations with fear and caution about sharing faith in the volatile land, Abdul-Ali believed God was asking him to begin his own ministry. He went to his friend Khan* and said, “I can’t pay you anything. We won’t have any funding or resources. Come do this with me.”
Khan knew and trusted his friend, and together God enabled them to launch an organization that enabled them to provide vocational skills for men and women, disciple and train new believers, and oversee multiplication. They created a program that gave young people an associate degree in competitive fields. They offered older women a path for sewing and embroidery. They trained older men in plumbing and electrical work. And they launched a house church that God grew from two people to dozens right in the heart of Afghanistan.
THE FALL OF AFGHANISTAN
On August 14, Abdul-Ali and his wife and son were preparing to baptize two new believers. When Abdul-Ali stopped by his house before those baptisms, he noticed an email from the American embassy. The Taliban was taking over; he needed to evacuate the country immediately.
Soon, Abdul-Ali found himself in the U.S., where his grown sons live. They were safe from the terror in Afghanistan. But Abdul-Ali was consumed with the idea that he needed to go back. Hundreds of calls each day flooded in from people in Afghanistan asking him what they were going to do. He believed they were in God’s hands, but he also knew God was asking him to return to care for them.
All doors for returning to Afghanistan seemed firmly closed. Finally, Abdul-Ali found a way to return to a neighboring country where he could serve refugees in a camp on the border.
At this same time, Team Expansion began pursuing direct ways to get involved in the crisis care in Afghanistan. Many years before, Abdul-Ali had met Team Expansion’s president, and all inquiries confirmed that Abdul-Ali would be a key partner in this initiative. Because he was living between lands — able to communicate and collaborate — he was the perfect advocate and networker to help Team Expansion take its work in Afghanistan to the next level. With Khan, Abdul-Ali was willing to join Team Expansion full-time.
CARING FOR REFUGEES
Abdul-Ali and his team are meeting physical, emotional, and spiritual needs at a key time in Afghanistan’s history. With support, provision, and encouragement coming in from Western believers through Team Expansion, they’re building wells to provide clean water at three camps, running a kitchen that cooks daily portions for hundreds of individuals and also provides basics for a family of seven for a month, running two mobile medical clinics, and distributing essential supplies like blankets to thousands of displaced Afghans. The community is responding with love and joy.
As winter approaches, Abdul-Ali and his team are preparing for the growing needs for refugees. There is extreme trauma in the camps, which requires specific care and counseling. Many families are concerned about having enough food and warm shelter as the months get colder. And there is a gaping spiritual need as men and women re-evaluate where their hope comes from.
A CRUCIAL MOMENT
Every day, Abdul-Ali and Khan are hearing stories of tragedy, stories of survival, and stories of hope. One family watched in horror as the Taliban killed their father in front of them, and then they escaped to the camps. Abdul-Ali spent two days with the children, taking them to the zoo, meeting their needs, and showing them the love of the Father who cannot be taken away from them. After experiencing the hope that Abdul-Ali offered through Christ, the family began reading the Bible together and seeking God’s love for themselves. These stories are happening all across the refugee camps.
This is a crucial moment for the people of Afghanistan. God is strengthening the faith of old and young believers as they rise to care for the broken and wounded, finding new community with Christ in their suffering.
As everyone dispersed in fear, the church stood firm, anchored in their purpose. During a time when it seemed like powerful organizations were fleeing, the people of faith said, “We’re going to stay.”
This is the time for the church to rise up, stand together, and serve the Afghan people in unity and love! Many have given and prayed, but the need will continue for years. Learn how you can get involved at TeamExpansion.org/Afghanistan.
*Names changed for security