I spent two years of my life in Afghanistan. I travelled all over the country. I spent time in Afghan villages and cities. I provided religious support for the southern region as well as Special Operations missions. I met friends and we served together. I encouraged chaplains by buying them coffee at the “Green Bean Coffee Shop” on US military installations. I have a father-daughter memory of when my daughter was a helicopter mechanic… we grabbed Italian pizza and ran for a bunker during a missile strike.
I remember when doctors gave up on resuscitating a Soldier and covered the Soldier when death was pronounced. I also have memories of memorial ceremonies. I honored our US deaths, as well as allied deaths. I didn’t keep count. There were too many. All of them were sons and daughters. All were a part of a family. Some of them knew Jesus. Many didn’t. Still, we honored their life and service to our country. The flag draped coffins are part of my memory, especially when there was a mass casualty.
As a member of our military, I feel that our military served with honor in Afghanistan. We followed orders. My personal observations were that we accomplished our missions with dignity as we followed a proper code of ethics that was consistent with American values.
Why So Long?
The US Military arrived in Afghanistan almost 20 years ago, soon after 9/11. We rooted out the safe havens of Al Qaeda. Osama Bin Ladin fled for Pakistan and was eventually killed by the US Military.
But then, we stayed. For years we stayed. The US took on a mission that other nations had failed to accomplish. We wanted to transform Afghanistan into a nation, even though it has never been a nation. Instead, it has been an ungoverned territory inhabited by around 14 Islamic tribes.
The English tried to do it for close to 100 years. They failed. The Soviets tried to do it. They failed. Even after Alexander the Great “conquered” the territory they quickly returned to tribalism. Now the United States joins the list of countries who have tried and failed.
Our Christian Response
The news of the Taliban taking over the country where I spent so much time is no surprise to me. I was trained at University of Kansas in World Religions for the Army. I understand, better than many, the religion and the culture. Afghanistan is simply a country that resists change and they have for a long time.
As we observe the failure of the US, I believe our Christian response should include the following:
- Support our military. Many veterans feel helpless and used. Pray that they can trust God through it all. Befriend them. Encourage them. Affirm their actions.
- Pray for the Afghani population. They need Jesus. Pray for visions of Jesus to directly lead them to a knowledge of our Savior.
- Pray for our nation’s leadership. Even through our nation has experienced a humiliation, we can pray for our president and other leaders. We are first and foremost followers of Jesus. Jesus has not been defeated. Jesus continues to be victorious.
- Vote. Elections mater. Choose wisely. Get involved in supporting candidates with Biblical values.
- Trust God. These events are no surprise to our Sovereign God. He is and continues to be on His throne.
The events of the past week have challenged many, including myself. I can respond with frustration and even anger. But as I pray and seek God, I realize that my citizenship in heaven is firm. Instead of frustration or anger, I pray that my life can be a model of peace in a challenging world.
Pastor David Beauchamp