“Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:18a).
In the wake of the September 11th attack in 2001, the General Board of the Church of the Brethren called for the immediate cessation of military action in Afghanistan, saying:
“We are deeply concerned that these strikes will cause further death and destruction, and will exacerbate the problems confronting those working to feed and care for millions of suffering Afghan people” (https://www.brethren.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/2001-september-11-aftermath.pdf).
Ten years later, in 2011, the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference reaffirmed that same call for the end to military action and concern for people of Afghanistan (www.brethren.org/ac/statements/2011-resolution-on-the-war-in-afghanistan).
This week, the withdrawal of US troops was nearly complete, and the world watched in anguish as the Taliban quickly completed its takeover by capturing Kabul. In ensuing days, the evacuations escalated and the humanitarian situation deteriorated, while global and domestic leaders furiously assigned blame for the past 20 years of violence, loss, and expense.
While there is a clear biblical precedent and call for rebuke and correction of injustice and wrongdoing, there is an equally strong call for self-examination and repentance.
The Church of the Brethren stands by our conviction that “all war is sin” and “we may not participate or benefit from war” (1970 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference statement on war, www.brethren.org/ac/statements/1970-war) but we must ask how we have been complicit in the war in Afghanistan and how we are called to turn now to repentance and right living. How have we not acted in a right manner in the past and how are we called to act in a right manner in the present, to “[put on as] shoes for your feet . . . whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15).
Though Ephesians 6 is filled with war-like images, we are reminded that “our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh.” We are called to a struggle not characterized by war and violence but by compassion, love, and justice. We are called to proclaim the gospel of peace through word and action for all those affected by the war in Afghanistan–Afghan civilians and military and US civilians and military and all others involved over 20 years of warfare.
In the coming days, weeks, and months, may we work for the safety and well-being of our Afghan neighbors near and far, extending a hand of support to them, welcoming those who have been displaced and who have become refugees, and challenging the belief that the weapons of war will bring a future of peace.
“For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
“Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18).
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