Much of the media attention on Afghanistan has subsided since the summer, but the need is still great. Becky Murray is the founder of Christian charity One by One and has been visiting the region this week. Here’s her report
I’m writing this after spending the evening close to the Afghanistan border, where our team has been working tirelessly for the last few weeks to help those fleeing the Taliban. They have provided shelter and food to several families seeking refuge, arranged paperwork and transport to get them to safety. Today I got to meet many of them, including two-week old Sarah. Her mother walked for five days, while seven months’ pregnant, to reach safety in Pakistan. She gave birth prematurely after so much stress but I am pleased to report that both mother and baby are both well.
We have received heartbreaking reports of families selling their own children in Afghanistan just to survive, so being able to meet this child, as well as the other families that our team have managed to rescue, is a memory that will stay with me forever.
God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called
This is my third trip to this part of the world, but I’d be lying if I said it gets easier; that I’m not always slightly scared when I am here. We hear constant reports of trouble, persecution, and even murder, from our partners working in the region. Earlier this year, a three-year-old girl in one of the brick kilns where we work was raped and killed. The sight of machine guns at border patrols isn’t something I’ll ever get used to.
Far from home
Life here is a far cry from my ‘other life’ in peaceful England where, just a few days ago, I was baking brownies for my ten-year-old son’s school cake sale. At the weekend, I stood with the other mums and dads and cheered loudly as he took to the football field. On Sunday, we attended church and had lunch with friends. Then I came home, packed my suitcase and boarded a plane to Islamabad.
Fitting in back home isn’t always easy. I know my life isn’t normal. Often, others don’t understand it. I launched One By One – a charity that aims to end exploitation of the vulnerable – after a 9 year-old girl in Africa offered me sex in return for a pair of flip flops. In that moment, everything changed. Being ‘normal’ was the last thing I wanted. I simply wanted to serve Jesus. Today, we reach more than 10,000 children every week across the world. But it all started with just one life.
That girl, named Felicity, changed everything for me. It’s driven me to go to some of the most dangerous and frightening places on the planet. I might not be able to change the world, but I can change someone’s world – whether in my quiet English town or Afghanistan. So far, we have rescued 50 children from modern-day slavery in Pakistan, with 35 more set to join our safe house before the end of the year. Many of these will be fleeing Afghanistan and the dangers that they face there under the Taliban regime.
Whether it’s going to Afghanistan or inviting a neighbour for a coffee, it’s important that we all say: “Yes!” to God
I know the life I live isn’t for everyone. Not everyone is called to do the things that I do. But that’s the whole point… God has placed us all in different places so we can reach others for the kingdom of God. We all have a mission field. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that mission really does begin at home; if we aren’t going to reach our neighbours, who will?
One of the biggest struggles many Christians face is failing to find their purpose. Often, people are desperate to serve God and do something but, because they’re not a public speaker or a pastor, feel they’ve somehow missed it. I want to encourage you: you don’t have to be a ‘superstar’ for God to use you. He’s simply looking for a willing and obedient heart. As I’m sure you’ve read on a fridge magnet somewhere, God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called!
In Isaiah 6:8, God famously asked: “Who can I send? Who will go?” He’s asking the same question of you and I. And whether it’s getting on a plane to Afghanistan or inviting your neighbour round for a coffee and sharing your faith with them, it’s important that we all say: “Yes!”
“Here I am, send me,” Isaiah replied. I pray we, too, respond in the same way.