08/31/2023 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – When we last spoke with Sukru toward the end of 2021, he and his family of three were living on a U.S. military base, waiting to be placed somewhere. For four months, a hanging bedsheet was their only privacy in a drafty Army barracks shared with other refugees.
However, there was no hint of frustration – only overwhelming relief and joy. Whatever temporary hardships they faced were replaced by a gratitude for freedom and the ability to worship freely. They, unlike many of their friends back home, were safe.
Sukru and his Christian family had narrowly escaped the Taliban in Afghanistan.
ICC worked tirelessly to get Afghan Christians out of the country just before and after the disastrous takeover two years ago this month and shepherded many to safety in neighboring countries. Getting them on planes at the crowded, chaotic Kabul Airport proved a minefield of trouble.
Sukru and his family spent hours in a dirty canal to reach the airport, were beaten, and had personal items stolen. They walked away from their home, their possessions, and their friends. It eventually took a kind American soldier, a few friendly contacts, lots of bureaucracy, and the favor of the Lord for them to finally board a plane to Kuwait, then to Spain, and finally to the Army base in the States.
“I count that as one of the biggest miracles,” said Sukru. “Usually when something hard hits my life, I say, ‘Oh God, you take the steering wheel.’ The same thing happened when Kabul fell to the Taliban. I lost everything. I had no hope and just said there is no way I can escape this situation on my own. I just put everything on God … getting out of Afghanistan was a miracle.”
After months of waiting at the Army barracks, the family was placed in a small, rural Texas town where they struggled to carve out a new life in an unfamiliar land.
“Some of the people I used to work for, Americans, they take care of us a lot,” said Sukru. “I applied for food stamps and would go to the food bank. I had to raise money to buy a car because without transportation there was no job in our rural area.”
Sukru spent hours learning about the American banking system, government programs, citizenship, politics, and education. Still, the paperwork and bureaucracy for getting services were daunting. But he slowly laid the foundation for a better life and is waiting for his green card, which will allow him to live and work in the U.S. permanently.
“One by one, I must follow these things to be independent, to make an easier life for my family here; I knew Afghanistan was not going to be my country for a long time, so I had to put all my focus here. What am I going to do, and what future is going to be here.”
The family recently moved to another, more cosmopolitan city with greater opportunities and resources. Sukru’s wife, Helena, will soon take classes at a university (she gave up a lucrative career and needs re-schooling to get recertification). Their son was less than a year old when they fled Afghanistan. He will soon start pre-K and make new friends.
Sukru works for an organization that helps refugees like himself settle in America. He walks with them along the same road he just traveled, helping them secure housing and find jobs.
The family found a church five minutes from their home. Sukru also plans to open a place of fellowship for other refugees. It will double as a place of worship and a resource center where refugees can apply for food stamps, learn how to get a driver’s license, and more. “We want to make a bridge to their heart as a ministry to God, to help and show them God’s love.”
So, how are his friends doing back home? What is life like for everyday Afghans?
“Most of them say, ‘Who knows if we have a tomorrow?’” said Sukru. “The Taliban don’t have minds set on running a country. People are dying of hunger and don’t have food. Many have lost their jobs and are looking for any way to get out of the country, to go to Pakistan or Iran… anywhere except Afghanistan.”
Most Christians “feel like a sacrificial lamb or sheep tied to a tree… they don’t know when the Taliban will come for them.”
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