May 19, 2009
How to Evangelize in Afghanistan
President Obama has pledged to make the war in Afghanistan a top foreign policy priority. He has maintained strong relations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai (inset photo) and spoke out in favor of winning the conflict there.
But the military strategy, just like the Bush administration, has come to dominate the American response from keeping the Karzai regime in power to fighting the Taliban.
From an evangelical point of view, the Obama administration goals do not seamlessly match up with gospel priorities. The situation is complicated significantly by the number of evangelicals in the Armed Services in Afghanistan and many of them are commited to spreading the gospel.
Note this recent article from Al Jazeera English language service:
US soldiers have been encouraged to spread the message of their Christian faith among Afghanistan's predominantly Muslim population, video footage obtained by Al Jazeera appears to show.
Military chaplains stationed in the US air base at Bagram were also filmed with bibles printed in the country's main Pashto and Dari languages.
In one recorded sermon, Lieutenant-Colonel Gary Hensley, the chief of the US military chaplains in Afghanistan, is seen telling soldiers that as followers of Jesus Christ, they all have a responsibility "to be witnesses for him".
"The special forces guys - they hunt men basically. We do the same things as Christians, we hunt people for Jesus. We do, we hunt them down," he says.
"Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them into the kingdom. That's what we do, that's our business."
Here is the You Tube/Al Jazeera segment:
This entanglement of fervent faith and lethal military might sure looks like a potentially dangerous combination to me. What do you think?
This kind of effort touches on a wide collection of missiological issues. Certainly, Christians worldwide endorse the place of military chaplains and the universal right of people to spread their faith.
However, the US military mission gets intermingled with the freedom of religious expression and outreach. On the receiving end in Afghanistan, I imagine this is pretty confusing for Muslims.