|August 23rd, 2009.|
Simon and I were driving home from church that evening. We had stopped using the GPS a few months earlier, having become somewhat familiar with the streets of Southern California. We moved from India to America in October 2008 as newlyweds. Life was beautiful and adventurous and full of love.
Christian music played on the car radio as my husband and I chatted.
A car rammed into the side of our Hyndai, bringing our conversation to a rude halt. Simon lost control and our car hit a traffic light. The air bags burst open with a white hot explosion.
What just happened?
My chest hurt so much that I could barely breathe. Firefighters and paramedics were on the scene within a few minutes and got me out of the damaged vehicle. Shocked but not badly injured, my husband was able to ride with me in the ambulance to the hospital. The doctors confirmed that I had a minor fracture of the sternum and kept me under observation for a few days. Simon’s ribs were bruised but thankfully, he did not need to be hospitalized.
When our families in India heard the news, they were distraught. How could they help us? They lived thousands of miles away. Simon and I were in a foreign country and it pained them to watch us endure suffering without a strong support system.
My parents and in-laws comforted and encouraged us through telephone calls and texts. They reminded us that God was always present with us. Our families prayed with us and for us. Though our folks were not physically present, we felt their love and concern for us. And their spiritual support gave us the courage we needed to go through a difficult time.
Over the past few weeks, God has been reminding me that my family has been hurting and that they need my support. I’m not talking about my biological family in India.
The Christians in Afghanistan are staring death in the face.
Since Taliban took over the country on August 15th, 2021, Afghan Christians have been living in fear. The Taliban is notorious for their cruelty toward minorities, including Christians. Our Afghani brothers and sisters need us now. The threat to their lives is real. Last week, I read a news article which reported that the Taliban took away the 14-year-old daughter of a pastor and made her a sex slave. More atrocities are to be expected.
The Afghani people might be strangers to us. We may not even know their names or faces. But this much is certain. As children of God, we are spiritual siblings. “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Galatians 3:27-28 (NIV). We belong to the same divine family and worship the same heavenly Father. We are connected to our Afghani brothers and sisters, whether we are aware of it or not, whether we acknowledge it or not.
Our salvation in Christ seals our relationship not just with Afghani believers but with believers all other the world.
It is easier for us to think of our local church as our second family. We see them every Sunday. We study the Bible and worship God together. We serve one another and reach out to those outside the church as a team. I believe the local church must be given priority.
But we also share a bond with Christians who do not belong to our church. We have friends and neighbors in the community who are affiliated with diverse churches and Christian organizations .And what about those believers whom we do not see or meet? What is our connection with them? How can we love and serve them?
Christians from all tribes and nations and cultures form the universal Church, God’s big family.
Though we only know about them and their needs through second hand sources like print media, Internet, or TV, we have a responsibility toward them that we cannot overlook or ignore. Especially, when there is an urgent need or a crisis.
When I look back at the time of our car accident more than a decade ago, I feel grateful to God who protected us and preserved our lives. He enabled our biological families, though far away, to shower us with love and kindness. God also surrounded us with believers who became Christ’s hands and feet to us.
One family, who attended the same church as us, took us into their home and cared for us until I got better. Another family helped us deal with administrative hassles and brought us homecooked meals. Our pastors visited us in the hospital and lifted our spirits.
A terrible event like a car accident opened my eyes to the power of a loving and praying family, both biological and spiritual. It reminds me that I’m part of a household, both visible and unseen, that extends to the ends of the earth. God calls me to care for the needs of my brothers and sisters, “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.” Hebrews 13:1 (NIV).
The need of the hour is for us to plead with our Father on behalf of our Afghani family. To ask Him to intervene and supernaturally protect them, to strengthen their faith, to comfort them in their suffering, and to remind them of the enduring hope they have in Christ.
We cannot afford to be mere spectators, watching the news on TV and shaking our heads. Our family is hurting. They are in danger. What can we do?
We can take our family’s concerns to the altar of God. Prayers of the saints are powerful and effective. Our prayers make an impact, both now and eternally. “And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.” Revelation 5:8 (NIV).
Praying for persecuted Christians all over the world must become part of our daily prayers. They have to remain in our thoughts. Their concerns must move our hearts.
We can ask the Holy Spirit to keep the suffering members of our family at the forefront of our minds and to fill our hearts with love for them. The more we love someone, the more we pray for them. And the more we pray, the more we love.
Our identity as a saved, redeemed, and holy people is inextricably tied to our collective identity as children of God.
We are spiritually equipped to share one another’s burdens, to offer comfort, strength, aid, and encouragement to those of us who are weak or in trouble. Let nothing stop us from taking the concerns of our persecuted family to the throne of God Almighty with confidence and faith, anticipating His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.