01/10/2022 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Sukru held his two-year-old son in the crowded soldiers’ barracks in an unfamiliar land, grateful to God that his family’s long and arduous journey was almost over.
It had long been his dream to come to America, albeit under different circumstances. So, waiting four months on a military base to be placed in a community was nothing compared to the dangerous Afghanistan they fled.
There were many moments when Sukru and his wife Helena, son, and in-laws, doubted they could flee the Taliban. Their life as Christians in Afghanistan and eventual escape could have ended at many junctures. God, however, had other plans.
Even now, in the crowded, drafty barracks with a bed sheet for privacy, Sukru couldn’t contain his excitement at his family’s good fortune of being free. Not just physically but, more importantly, spiritually. In the United States, his family could worship the Lord openly for the first time as they waited to be placed, hopefully somewhere in the South.
“Freedom is priceless,” Sukru said. “In America, you have freedom of faith, freedom of speech, freedom of lifestyle. No one is putting a gun to your head saying, ‘Don’t do that.’ My wife and sister-in-law don’t have to cover their heads when they’re out in public. That freedom is the first and main thing I noticed about this culture.”
Leaving Everything Behind
Sukru’s path to the United States was unexpected, though not surprising. The devout Muslim had put his faith in Christ years earlier after questioning his upbringing and meeting Christians from South Korea and the United States. He married his bride, and their life in Afghanistan was “perfect,” as Sukru would describe it.
“We had an active [underground] ministry,” he said. “Kabul was a place you could walk at 11:00 at night with no problem.” Things slowly eroded long before this Taliban summer. The streets of Kabul became more dangerous, “even at 5:00 at night; people will rob you and kill you because of money.”
After the Taliban ascended to power in August, the 8,000 to 12,000 Afghan Christians became targets—considered apostates by the Taliban and under a death sentence if caught. While International Christian Concern (ICC) moved many of the most vulnerable Christians out of the country before the takeover, others were forced further underground. As things escalated, decisions had to be made quickly—stay and hide or flee. If the latter, friendships, mementos, and comforts were left behind.
While Sukru thought getting out of Afghanistan to the United States or Europe would be impossible, an American missionary told him, “If God wants to take you out of this country, He will make a way.”
And He did.
Escaping the Taliban
It certainly wasn’t an easy path. Sukru’s family caravan tried unsuccessfully to get through to the airport several times. They spent three hours in a dirty canal. Chaos and fear reigned. They were beaten and had their items stolen, leaving Sukru to wonder, “Is this really God’s plan?”
Contacts helped Sukru’s family and other Christians get to the airport for an opportunity to board a plane. They finally broke through with the aid of an American soldier. After much bureaucracy and seemingly endless waiting in line, Sukru’s entire family was put on a plane to Kuwait, then to Spain, and finally to the United States.
“One night, I was saying to God, I lost my home, everything in Afghanistan. And I was feeling that God was saying a new chapter of life will start for you, so don’t worry. I don’t know what’s going to happen when I get out of this camp. But I have hope in God.”
ICC continues to help Christian families and leaders who have chosen to stay in Afghanistan or are unable to leave and to help others settle into safe areas outside its borders. This will be a long-term endeavor.
“Please continue to pray for us and our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan,” said Sukru.
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