During the past several months a Christian organization in Kabul, Afghanistan pursued me to fill its chief executive role. Due to security sensitivities, I was unable to publicly discuss the process as it was happening. However, now that it looks like Nancy and I will not be going there, I would like to blog about interactions I had with friends who knew about the possibility. I was disappointed with most of the advice I received. (Some of the people I’m thinking about read this blog. I believe I have already communicated this to you personally, so I hope you are not offended by what I say.)
When we told our trusted friends about the opportunity, the universal response was negative. Even though I faithfully shared the strategic value of representing Christ in Afghanistan now, not one counselor encouraged us to go for it. The final paragraph in my May 6 post: http://gregfritz.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/how-to-win-in-afghanistan/ describes my sense of the urgent need for Christians to go to Afghanistan now.
My dissenting friends fell into two categories: those concerned for our safety and those who disagree regarding the strategic opportunity.
To those who were fearful on our behalf, I know you were motivated by love for us. Nevertheless, remember there are people there. People who have figured out how to live lives that are normal for them. They grow up, get jobs, raise families, celebrate, mourn, etc. They have learned to adapt to their circumstances. Also, the people in Kabul are not all native Afghans. There are also thousands of expatriates who have figured out how to achieve levels of “normal.” Just as in Chicago, New York, and LA there are precautions that people learn to observe. By no means is it assumed that our heads would have been whacked off within two weeks of our arrival as my mother feared.
More importantly, Nancy and I are not motivated by safety. We don’t expect to always be in safe circumstances. Sometimes God calls us to risk and even lose our lives for the sake of the gospel. We were willing to accept the risks in Kabul if that was where the Lord called us to serve.
To those who are unimpressed by my argument that the window of strategic opportunity is probably quickly closing, I would remind you of three things:
- The biblical strategy for evangelism is less about large numbers and more about nations. I agree that Nancy and I might influence more people in other places. However, in Kabul it is possible to influence people who have little exposure to or knowledge of the God of grace who loves them passionately. Shouldn’t we obey the Bible’s strategic direction?
- I agree that Afghanistan is “hard soil.” However, maybe it is hard because God’s ambassadors have failed to adequately work it. If we continue to under-resource the work in that part of the world, it probably will continue to appear unresponsive. Shouldn’t we go there to prepare the way for the Lord?
- The opportunity is available now. During the next several years Westerner access to Afghanistan could disappear. Now it is possible for expatriates to openly be “Christian.” It is possible that a new government in Kabul would not tolerate that. Shouldn’t we take advantage of this current openness?
I know my friends meant well as they discouraged us from pursuing this ministry opportunity. Nevertheless, my perspective is different. Thank you for listening to my side.