Every time President Biden or Press Secretary Jen Psaki talk about the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, they refer to evacuating Americans “who want to leave Afghanistan.” On the surface it seems like an odd description. Don’t all Americans want to leave Afghanistan? Who wants to stay in a place where the Taliban are figuring out what it looks like to rule again?
I even heard a commentator mock Biden on her podcast last week for describing any Americans in this way. She was baffled, angry even. “No American wants to stay in a country overrun with terrorists,” she said.
But there are indeed Americans who want to stay in Afghanistan. I don’t know how many, and I don’t know the story of each one. But there are more who want to stay than you might think.
Why? Because they love God and they love Afghans.
Cost Already Counted
These are missionaries who have already counted the cost (Luke 14:25–34). They left home, family, comfort, and security well before the U.S. decided to evacuate. Many have been there since before the U.S. military arrived. They’ve been all-in for years, and they have no intention of coming back now. They will live out their days sharing the love of Jesus in a very dark place.
Many Americans, like the commentator I heard last week, are sure that all Americans want to live in America. But many American Christians have answered Jesus’s call to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:16–20). They are convinced that Jesus, who has all authority on heaven and earth, is with them until the very end (Matt. 28:20).
And they believe there’s no more worthwhile way to spend their days than to preach Jesus Christ crucified, risen, and coming again to the people of Afghanistan. They know they’re in grave danger. They know they could be martyred. And they believe it’s worth it.
They believe there’s no more worthwhile way to spend their days than to preach Jesus Christ crucified, risen, and coming again to the people of Afghanistan.
If not them, then who? “How are [Afghans] to call on the one they have not believed in? And how are they to believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching to them?” (Rom. 10:14).
Several years ago, a young aid worker—a friend of our friends—was killed by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Violence from the Taliban had been increasing in the region, and both her sending agency and the State Department were urging all American aid workers to leave the country. Her response at the time: “Please do not make me leave Afghanistan. It will kill me if I have to leave.” She intended to give all her remaining days to providing medical relief and the gospel to Afghans.
One day a Taliban terrorist hid a gun under a fake arm bandage and entered the clinic where she and other Christians were providing medical care. He opened fire and killed many aid workers, including her. He later said he had to. In his words: “If they kept doing what they were doing, then the whole country would believe in Jesus.”
That’s why there are Americans who don’t want to leave Afghanistan. And that’s why Biden and Psaki really do have to qualify their statement each time: there really are Christians from America and elsewhere who want to stay.
They want the whole country to believe in Jesus.