Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in early August, Christians living in the country have been in danger. To help some of those endangered believers flee the country, Biblical Ministries Worldwide (BMW), a missions organization based in Atlanta, launched a rescue operation.
Members of the BMW team were concerned about the safety of Afghan Christians immediately after hearing about the Taliban’s rapid offensive. “Most Christians who live in Afghanistan are hiding as intensively as they can,” one member said. “But when they’re found out, the consequences are pretty tragic.”
The organization helped some believers avoid that fate. “We’ve gotten over 1,000 people out [of Afghanistan] who were at severe risk because of their faith,” a leader from BMW said.
What began as the small-scale rescue of around 30 Christians with connections to BMW grew into a wider opportunity to evacuate believers in danger in Afghanistan. “It’s blown up tremendously,” the leader said. “There was a major breakthrough.”
BMW was able to fly droves of evacuees out of the country in approximately 10 planes with the permission of several governments. After hearing of their success in rescuing the first 30 Afghans, multiple Christian organizations approached BMW, asking them to help evacuate the Christians they knew of in the country.
The first round of the rescue operation began several weeks ago. Thirty Afghans reached out to BMW representatives through WhatsApp, asking them for help to escape the country. “It was pretty funny,” a leader said. “There were days it seemed like the federal government couldn’t get communications working actively, but we could talk on WhatsApp freely.”
The leader had previously focused on building a network of useful contacts to support his organization’s mission. This network proved invaluable when helping the Afghans escape. Forfeiting sleep for three days, the leader estimates he made hundreds of phone calls to try to help the Christians. BMW contacted non-governmental organizations, members of Congress and other groups in their attempts to rescue the believers.
But in the end, help came from outside their existing network. “We were connected through a really providential encounter with a group of special forces … with the U.S. military,” the leader said. A week before the last American service member evacuated Afghanistan, those soldiers left the Kabul airport to find and bring back the Christians who were hiding in the city.
“We were networked to [the soldiers] and found them in the middle of the night, and within 12 hours our group of people were out of the country.”
Some of the believers rescued from Afghanistan have been brought to the United States, while others are awaiting processing in a third country. BMW has begun raising funds to help these refugees start new lives in the United States. Anyone interested in donating to the Afghan Christians can do so at compassionmedical.org or bliblicalministries.org.
A leader from BMW feels overwhelmed by the success their rescue efforts have had. “It’s really hard to wrap my head around what’s happening,” he said. “I don’t really have words right now.”
The leader from BMW warned that Christians in Afghanistan are facing intense persecution under the Taliban, especially converts from Islam. “The situation in Afghanistan for those who are not following the faith and practices of the Taliban is severe,” he warned. “For those who have converted from Islam to another religion … it is an ongoing, consistent danger every hour of every day.”
He told the story of an elderly man who was martyred for his faith after converting to Christianity. While living as a refugee in another country, the man was saved and began to witness to his community. Later, he returned to Afghanistan, and someone tipped off the Taliban that he had converted to Christianity. “They came to his house and killed him at the door,” the leader said. “And there’s plenty of other stories.”
The leader believes Christians in the West should pay more attention to the persecution facing the church around the world.
“There are things happening all around us that are affecting fellow believers in ways that are very difficult for us to imagine,” he said. “It’s very jarring to be on the phone … to Kabul, Afghanistan, hearing gunshots, and then a few moments later walk out the door to a junior high school soccer game in the United States. And yet, that’s the world we live in in missions.”
“I would urge American Christians to do a better job of not so much just engaging in popular news but [of] taking the time to do a little more serious reading … about culture, society [and] history to understand how different the experiences in the world of people outside the United States actually is,” he said.
That knowledge helps Christians witness more effectively to those with different cultural contexts.
The leader stressed that Christians can make a difference at home too. “If you’ll look around you, there are hurting, broken people constantly around you,” he said, urging American Christians to engage intentionally with the people near them who need the Gospel.
The leader encouraged Christians to pray that believers in persecuted areas would overcome their fear and share the Gospel despite the challenges they face.
For now, BMW will continue their efforts to rescue Afghan Christians. “There will come a point where we can’t do any more good, but I guess we haven’t reached it yet,” the leader said.
A representative from BMW was on campus for BJU’s Global Opportunities Week in September, recruiting for the organization.
The organization’s mission is to help healthy churches thrive and to plant churches across the globe. “[The goal is] to equip churches to do all the things wrapped up in the Great Commission,” the leader said. “Ultimately, it is the love of God that is behind all this work.”