5 October 2021
We are on a mission to help the Afghan people and are grateful for your love, support and prayers. We were invited to help support a humanitarian corridor in the Panjshir Valley but three weeks ago, when we arrived in Tajikistan, the Panjshir Valley fell into the hands of the Taliban. We offered to help anyway and our team was invited by the Afghan Embassy. This opportunity allowed us to build relationships and learn better how to help. During this time we met with one of the representatives. One of them shared his heart and spiritual journey with us and how God helped him as Afghanistan fell into the hands of the Taliban. He described how he was humbled and how the invisible hand of God helped him through. Now he and others are trying to find ways to get help in to their people. We are thankful too for the Tajikistan government and how they try to help those in need.
At the same time there are many American citizens and thousands of Afghans who are still trapped inside Afghanistan and want out. There is resistance against the Taliban reported in parts of the Panjshir, Baghlan, Takhar and Badakshan provinces but it’s small scale and sporadic and we have not seen it first-hand. At this time there’s no credible way yet we can account for any supplies being sent cross-border although we have already purchased food, medical supplies and sleeping bags for the IDPs inside and these are ready to go. We are coordinating with the Afghan embassy for the right time to send these supplies.
There is an estimated 650,000 people newly displaced in Afghanistan and this is in addition to the over 3 million already displaced and over 40,000 that have already fled into Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. As for American citizens and green-card holders, there are still over 100 left in Afghanistan who want to get out. There are many organizations trying to get American citizens and others out and we had the privilege of being with the Sentinel Foundation when they got some Americans safely across into Tajikistan and on their way back to the US. The Sentinel Foundation is doing a wonderful job of coordinating with the US State Department and getting US citizens across into Tajikistan.
We have been able to help some Afghan refugees (pictures below) who have escaped into some unofficial sites in Tajikistan. People are desperate to get out from under the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan, where there are daily reports of executions some of which are public and filmed. The horror that stalks the Afghan people, especially women, Christians, minorities and those who worked for the US, is ever present. We had the privilege of distributing food packages to some of the families who escaped. We let them know that people in America and all around the world are praying for them and they are not alone. All the families were very grateful and we got to pray for all of them in Jesus’ name. We prayed for healing for a few families who had disabled children.
As always we were amazed at how little they had, yet were quick to invite us in for tea. We heard many stories of how they lost everything. We reminded them of the hope that comes from God that will never leave us, even in our darkest hours. We are very grateful to the Tajikistan government for how they allow these people to stay.
There is also the beginning of a small refugee camp of about 90 tents south east of Kolub near the border of Afghanistan and we hope more will be allowed to come in this and other sites. We are not sure how many people are there. During this mission part of our team spent eight days walking and driving over 14,000 and 15,000-foot mountains along the border of Afghanistan. There are many places people can cross into Tajikistan but the border is heavily patrolled by the Tajik government. So the best hope is for the Tajik government to allow people to cross and stay in temporary camps until they can be processed out and travel to third countries. This is something we can encourage our US government to help them do. There are thousands who want to flee the oppression of the Taliban but until there is a way for them, they are stuck inside Afghanistan. For example, there are now between 500 to 1000 ethnic Hazara people who fled the Kabul and Bamiyan area from oppression by the Taliban. They are on the border at Ishkashim, Badakshan, but are not allowed to cross by either side. On the Afghan side the Taliban have them totally surrounded (photo below). We don’t yet have a way to get them out or supplies in to them as the Taliban will take it.
As for resistance to the Taliban, there is the National Resistance Front which is made of soldiers of the elected government who are fighting the Taliban and there is ISIS- K who have been fighting the Taliban since 2015 and continue their attacks. The “K” in ISIS-K stands for “Khorasan,” which is an ancient name for Afghanistan and parts of the central Asian region. ISIS-K is actively fighting the Taliban and is also an enemy of the forces of the elected government, the National Resistance Front (NRF). We heard reports of the NRF fighting the Taliban in Panjshir, Baghlan, Takhar and Badakshan provinces but we do not have solid evidence of the scale of this. For example, there were reports of fighting in the Ishkashim area but when we were near there just across the Panj River (which flows into the Amu Darya River further west), there was no sound of gunfire, no casualties and when our guide called his Afghan friends on the Afghan side, they said there’d been no fighting there. There is however, fighting by the NRF against the Taliban deeper inside but we do not know details. We will continue to try to find out. Even though the rule of the Taliban is brutal it is also important to note that many people capitulated to the Taliban out of fear and not agreement. Many of the areas under Taliban control are controlled by people not completely loyal to the Taliban and not radical in their beliefs. So there is, in some areas, the possibility of finding ways to help people get out and relief to quietly come in.
All during this mission we have been blessed by the friendliness of the Tajik and Afghan people and have had daily opportunities to share God’s love and pray with almost everyone we meet. We encourage them that they can call on Jesus’ name no matter what their religion is and that God sent Him and cares for all of us. During our walk in the mountains, we became close with our guides and prayed with them each day. On the last night with them, on a moonlight-bathed side of a mountain, I asked if I could pray. I felt I should get on my knees and as I got down all the men dropped to their knees with me and we could feel God’s presence. We embraced each other and left as the moon rose full and bright on the rocky and ice-capped peaks above us.
Another blessing of this mission was meeting the local Christian community who are doing quiet but very effective work. Their acts of love and sharing of the love of God through Jesus is inspiring and we are able to partner with them to help people in need on both sides of the border. We are meeting with Afghan leaders now and will know more how we can help or if we have done all we can at this time. The needs of the Afghan people are great and many want to leave; please pray we know our part in how to help.
Thank you and God bless you, Dave, family and FBR