More than 100,000 people have lost their lives over the past 20 years as a result of the war in Afghanistan. Adults, children and those fighting to protect their freedoms have perished in yet another senseless attempt to clamp down on human rights and justice for all.
As we sit in the comfort of our own homes, we have watched in horror what is happening to the people of Afghanistan in recent weeks. Thousands of families and individuals, crowding onto the tarmac in Kabul, racing to board or cling to the sides of U.S. military planes in an attempt to escape a country ravaged by violence.
In recent days, the violence has taken yet another turn as factions fighting against the Taliban and U.S. resort to suicide bombings to exact as much destruction against our military, others on the ground striving to protect those wishing to leave, and those fleeing the violence. Again, more lives lost.
What has been gained? Very little if you talk with those who have lived in the midst of war. As the U.S. prepares to withdraw, there is a great deal of uncertainty for those left behind.
While we are happy to see the end of U.S. military occupation in this region, we do hope and pray that our leaders from both sides of the political aisle continue to seek constructive, humanitarian ways to help the Afghan people in their time of need. It is time to end the political blame game for all that has gone wrong in this 20-year commitment and find true solutions that save lives and protect individual rights, especially for women and girls.
We continue to pray for the safe evacuation of both citizens and our brave military personnel. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice to save those in danger.
We pray for our national and international leaders as they work to find solutions to the crisis in the region.
We pray for our president and the Department of Homeland Security as they oversee relocation efforts for the thousands of Afghan residents without a home.
We pray that our nation opens hearts and arms to families that have nowhere else to go.
Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Call to Prayer & Action for Afghanistan
The tragic news coming from the beautiful and culturally diverse country of Afghanistan has disturbed us profoundly as we grieve the continued loss of life, peace and stability, hopes and dreams. In this time, we as people of faith turn to the practice of lament that guides our prayers in this time and leads us to action.
We lament the lives that have been lost … of civilians, military personnel, and aid workers.
We lament the families fractured and torn apart. Those whose homes have been destroyed and those who have left their homes filled with fear.
We lament for those who feel helpless, hopeless, abandoned and trapped within their own country.
We lament the devastation that has come and the fears of what might be.
We lament that 20 years of military intervention has not provided the peace and stability that was promised.
And in our lament, we are led to confess our hubris that our plans would be solutions for others without listening to them.
We confess our belief and trust in militarism as the solution to all problems.
And we confess that we have, and continue to, put our interests and security above that of the people of Afghanistan and other nations.
Our lament leads us to recognize how much we still do not know, and have chosen to not understand, and the need to listen to the voices of the people of Afghanistan as they share their hopes and dreams for their country. We remain in prayer as we seek God’s guidance, compassion, and love.
A Prayer for the people and nation of Afghanistan August 2021
God of Compassion, God of Peace, God of Justice:
You, O God, are the One who
sees the forgotten
speaks with the Voice of the silenced
remembers and redeems those who are lost and without hope.
Hear our prayer for the people of Afghanistan, those fleeing for refuge, those left behind, those who cannot find a way out.
The faces of the people of Afghanistan, filled with desperation and fear, haunt us. The horrors the world has witnessed in the catastrophic collapse of a nation’s government take us to a place of sorrow beyond words. The scenes from the airport as evacuations continue, the cities and small communities, relentlessly overtaken, and the knowledge that we in the United States are a part of this story, are painful to bear.
We see the anguish of your suffering people and recognize a wrenching feeling deep in the pit of our own stomachs: for we know we share responsibility for what is unfolding and what is being lost. We have made choices as a nation to engage with Afghanistan, all these long years, and though we prayed it would be for good, we know that the legacies of nations with power have often caused harm when good was hoped for. We confess to you that our best efforts are still mired in sin. We ask for your forgiveness. Help us to learn, and to amend our ways.
We acknowledge those in military service in our nation, in Afghanistan, as well as in other places who gave their lives, their health, and their futures, hoping to be a force for the protection of the vulnerable and the well-being of the people of Afghanistan. We lift up their sacrifice, their trauma and their sorrow to you, O God who heals every wound.
Most of all, God of the refugee, God of the journey, Protector of the helpless, we lift to you the people of this fragile and wounded nation; those who remain at home, and those who flee. Guard them and shelter them under the shadow of your wings. Lead them to safe haven and give them the strength and hope to begin again. Give us the grace to walk alongside them.
Help us, God of justice and mercy, to turn our own anguish into deeds of love and welcome. Help us not to turn away, nor to forget. Open our hearts, our doors, our communities, our churches and neighborhoods to receive, to honor, and to bless. Make us instruments of your peace, for the sake of your son, Jesus Christ, our Love and our Redeemer.
From prayer we are led to act with humility, recognizing we cannot act alone. We need to listen and learn what actions are needed and helpful, and that our action does not absolve us of our past mistakes, but can lead to justice for those who remain. In so doing, we choose to welcome and stand with those who as a last resort have fled the only home they knew as they resettle in other lands including the United States. We choose to not forget and abandon the people of Afghanistan, but to urge policy makers towards just actions for the sustainability of this extraordinary country.
Join the call to prayer by using the prayer and lament for Afghanistan in your church or Sunday school class. Use this resource from our partners at the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) for guided prayer with the ecumenical and interfaith community.
This hymn by Carolyn Winfrey Gilette was written for the people of Afghanistan. It was written to a gentle, peaceful tune for a people who need gentleness, peace, justice, and human rights in their land (as we all do, in our lands). Permission is given for free use of this hymn, including in online worship services.
Contact congress and urge the administration to expand and expedite access to the US resettlement program for Afghan refugees. Click here
Support PC(USA) partners providing humanitarian assistance on the ground in Afghanistan and the region through the PDA U.S. Refugee Emergency Fund.
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance will provide financial aid to ACT Alliance members for their humanitarian work inside Afghanistan as well as in the neighboring countries as the needs are identified and programs are expanded.
Thousands of Afghans have arrived in the U.S. already this year and many more are arriving. They need basic furniture and supplies to set up apartments, rental housing, financial support and volunteers. PDA has general information on how refugee resettlement works and how churches welcome refugees here.
Encourge your church or community to learn about the refugee experience by watching “To Breath Free”
To Breathe Free follows the 5-year journey of a Syrian family fleeing the war in Homs to the refugee camps in Jordan and starting a new life in Washington, D.C. Using home movies, phone video, family photos and interviews with family members and former refugees, this short documentary gives an intimate and unique perspective not seen in current media reporting on the refugee crisis.
For additional information on the Afghan refugee situation from PDA please click here.