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Unreached People Group

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LIBERTY UNIVERSITY BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

Unreached People Group Project

Submitted to Dr. Harold Pruitt, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of

GLST 500 – D11
Global Studies Survey

by

Garnet E. Cook III
November 29, 2015

Abstract
Missions is the last command that Christ gave before ascending back to Heaven. The Great Commission is as important today as it was over two thousand years ago when it was given to the first believers. It is evident with the current events happening across the globe that the Gospel is still desperately needed. The rise of Islam and the current move of Jihad, it makes it all more important that we reach the world for Christ. According to the Central Intelligence Agency, 99.7 percent of those living in Afghanistan are of the Islam faith and only .3 percent of a mix between Judaism, Christianity and other faith groups. Afghanistan is a country that has been torn apart by war since the early part of the 2000’s. Even though there has been war in this country for years, there are still reported to be 33,443,000 people living in Afghanistan. This many people living in this country and only a fraction of a percent being Christian, (Joshua Project reports that only .1 percent are professing Christians) makes the need for the Gospel a high priority. Christians living in countries that are mainly Islamic face persecution for their beliefs and possible death. It is a challenge for mission teams to effectively work in these countries. However just as there is a huge need for the Gospel in Afghanistan, there is also a great need of proper medical care. The paper will present an idea to effectively bring the Gospel through Afghanistan to be done through a medical front. Using proper medical care as the main focus should allow a mission team to provide essential medical care as well with presenting the Gospel.

Background Information Afghanistan is located in Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan and east of Iran. It is about six times the size of Virginia and slightly smaller than Texas. It borders quite a few other countries: China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Though it is a medium sized country it has limited natural freshwater resources and the soil is sub-par for farming. The air and water are both polluted and there is not many trees left in Afghanistan to help provide cleaner air. The terrain is difficult to maneuver around due to being landlocked and being basically surrounded by mountain ranges. This is an important knowledge to have in order to properly plan to provide an outreach missions to the people of Afghanistan. Since the air and water are polluted there is a high need for proper medical care, but the terrain and make-up of the geography of Afghanistan will make it challenging to be a successful mission. Afghanistan became an official country in 1742 and was ruled by the man named Ahmad Khan Abdali. Ahmad Khan Abdali changed his name to Ahmad Khan Durrani, meaning “pearl of pearls” and was known for his profession of conquest. Ahmad Durrani would spend 25 years of his reign in conflicts but mainly in effort to protect the boundaries from other countries and his descendants would continue to rule until they are driven out of Kabul in 1818. The successor was a man named Dost Mohammed. During his reign he would face years of civil war from the Durrani until 1826 when the country was divided among Dost Mohammed and several of his brothers. Most of the wars that were fought early in the history of Afghanistan were civil wars or battles to protect boundaries. However in 1838, the people of Afghanistan would face a British army and would lose control of the cities of Kandahar and Kabul. They would be under British rule until January 1842 with there was a sizeable withdraw of British troops leaving the Afghans opportunity to rise and drive out the remaining British and Indian (from India) soldiers, many of who would die fleeing. In response to this up rise, the British invade again in the summer of 1842 in order to bring Dost Mohammad back to his throne where he would reign peacefully for 20 years. November 1878 British armies invade again and by May 1879 agree to a treaty, which would give British control over Afghanistan’s foreign affairs until September of the same year the British envoy to Kabul and his entire staff and escort are massacred. Jumping ahead to 1901, Habibullah is reigning ruler of Afghanistan and successfully maintains a policy of strict neutrality during World War 1. The Soviet Union invades Afghanistan in 1979 and occupies until 1989. The Soviet Union has a difficult time controlling Afghanistan due to the fighting guerrilla groups who are supplied with anti-aircraft weapons by the United States. The fighting between the Russians and the guerrillas, who call themselves the Islamic Unity of Afghan Warriors, devastates a country that was already very poor and sends an estimated 2 million refugees to Pakistan and another estimated 1.8 million into Iran. In 1994, Afghanistan is taken over by the Taliban who would continue to rule with fear until 2001 whenever the group called al-Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden, would create terror heard around the world. Afghanistan is where this terrorist organization makes their home since Afghanistan’s terrain offers plenty of concealment and caves to hide their weapons and gatherings. Afghanistan’s history is full of violence and it still continuing to this day. Aside from the hard terrain make-up of Afghanistan, the population of Afghanistan is primarily Islamic. According to the Joshua Project, there are an estimated 33,443,000 people living in Afghanistan. There are 77 number of people groups and of the 77 there are 72 unreached people groups. Of the population there are 33,425,000 people that are unreached with the Gospel of Jesus. This country is in desperate need of the Gospel with only .1 percent professing to have belief in Jesus Christ as their Savior. There is quite a blend of ethnic groups living in Afghanistan for all the bigger the country is in land mass. There are Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek and a group titled other that consist of 11 other smaller ethnic groups. The array of ethnic groups brings a variety of languages spoken throughout the country. The official language of Afghanistan is Afghan Persian or Dari; the second most spoken language in the country is Pashto followed by Turkic. There are 30 more minor languages spoken in Afghanistan that adds to a language barrier for those that may want to reach the smaller tribes of Afghanistan. Just like Spanish has many different dialects, it may be a hard task to be able to book learn the minor languages of the smaller ethnic groups. The largest make-up of the population is the age group of boys and girls from the ages of birth to 14 years--boys making up 6.8 million and the girls at 6.6 million. Infant mortality rate is one of the highest among the world which leads to a large drop-off in the population to 3,7 million males and 3.5 million females between the ages of 15 to 24 with only 621,000 males and 641,000 females living to the ages of 55-64 years of age. The birth rate is about 39 births per 1,000 people per year with the death rate being just below 14 per 1,000 people per year. Afghanistan ranks 9 highest out of 225 countries reported in death rate taking the number one spot in infant mortality with an average of about 115 infant deaths per 1,000 births. The average life expectancy for men is just shy of 50 years where the women are close to 53 years. The employment rate in Afghanistan is very low and most Afghans live in poverty. Many who fight for the Taliban do so largely to collect the wage offered. Many of those that do work for the Taliban mostly work in the poppy fields that produce opium that funds the finances of the terrorist group. Close to 80 percent of the people try to live by subsistence farming, but it is very hard to be able to access water since most of the irrigation was devastated by war. Less that 15 percent of the homes in Afghanistan have electricity. The healthcare in Afghanistan is abysmal. In 2013, it was estimated that there was .27 physicians per 1,000 people. The ability to keep patience in the hospital for observation is nearly impossible with the average being one half-bed availability per 1,000 people. The people of Afghanistan have a high risk of attracting infectious diseases mostly consisting from food/waterborne (such as bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A and typhoid fever), vector borne (such as malaria) and rabies. The lack of proper medical care and attention leads to people not understanding proper hygiene and basic education on causes and prevention of common illnesses has led to the short life expectancy and high death rates.
The main religion in Afghanistan is Muslim, almost 90 percent is of the Sunni Muslim and the other 10 percent is Shia. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has other religions being .3 percent and Christianity is at .1 percent of that .3 percent. The culture of Afghanistan is built around the belief system of Islam and has made any other belief system punishable by death. In fact, conversion from Islam to Christianity is considered a serious crime and is punishable by death according to the Islamic Law. Abdul Latif, a Christian father, was brutally beheaded in June of 2011 by four Islamic militants in the town of Enjeel for the “crime” of converting to Christianity. With the growing oppression by the Islamic-State (IS), it is becoming even more difficult and dangerous for not only converts to Christianity in Afghanistan, but for any foreign or indigenous missionaries to actively engage the populace for Christ. In 2010 the International Religious Freedom reported that there were no public Christian churches or schools that existed within the borders of Afghanistan due to the last known church being destroyed in March of 2011.
Family is everything in the Afghan society. The people of Afghanistan usually keep marriages within family groups called endogamous marriages, patriarchal, meaning vested by the male elders of the family, patrilineal which is through inheritance through the male line, and patrilocal marriages where the girl will move the man’s place of residence. Polygamy is also allowed though it is not regularly practiced today. Respect for the older members of the family, both male and female is strongly practices as well as motherhood and divorce is not acceptable socially. Since there is no strong government infrastructure in Afghanistan, the family unit, economic and social unit replaces the importance placed on the government. Since Afghanistan has be devastated by war now for decades, the family unit has been disrupted and many have been separated and live on separate continents. Even though many families are separated, many of those that are residing outside of Afghanistan will send monetary support to their families left behind and will find means to getting their families out of Afghanistan. Though older women and mothers are to be respected by family members, they hold low status in society and ultimately held inferior to men and the male head of the family. Embodied in the acceptance of the male right to control decisions on female behavior is the dual concept of male prestige and family honor. Any evidence of independent female action is regarded as evidence of lost male control and results in ostracism, which adversely affects the entire family’s standing in the community. The Islamic State of Afghanistan eliminated all legislation set up prior to their rule in 1992 that gave rights to women. The Taliban past legislation touching upon women and the family threatened to undermine the society’s values. The sanctity of the family with the seclusion of women at its core was the catalyst that the Taliban would use for their crusade to establish a full Islamic society.
Survey of Missions Work The work of missions in the country of Afghanistan is a challenging work. The large population and the fact that Christians make up .1 percent of the population brings the number of Christians to roughly 34,000 out of the 33,443,000 people. As mentioned earlier that a report showed in 2010 that there were no remaining known churches for Christians remaining in Afghanistan. People are being persecuted and killed for believing in Jesus Christ. An online statement posted by the Taliban in October 2011 reads: “According to our reports…Christian evangelists and social organizations are directly inviting Afghans to Christianity… These infidels, enemies of Islam under the name of corrupt democracy and their lords, need to know that the Afghan Islamic Emirate is seriously taking your activities into consideration… The Afghan Islamic Emirate will take practical measures and has already made special plans to destroy all [their] centers one by one; the centers where plans are made that destroy the holy religion of Islam and Afghan culture.” The earliest mission work that took place in Afghanistan has legends suggesting that the Apostle Thomas had reached a town called Bactria, which is today in the northern regions of Afghanistan. By the time of the establishment of the Second Persian Empire (AD 226), there were bishops of the Church of the East in northwest India, Afghanistan and Baluchistan, with laymen and clergy alike engaging in missionary activity. In the later part of the 1500’s, there were early Jesuit explorers that were warmly received by the Islamic emperor however the presence of the Jesuit’s was only temporary. In late 1870’s a British report showed 18 Armenian Christians found in Kabul. Italy is the only country to have been given permission to build a Roman Catholic Chapel within the walls of the Italian Embassy because it was given permission to be built thanks to Italy being the first country to recognize Afghanistan’s independence in 1919. However, in 1959 President Eisenhower was able to gain permission to built a Protestant church in Kabul in lieu of the Islamic Center of Washington being recently built in Washington D.C. for the diplomats of the Muslim faith. The construction of the church was completed in 1970 and Christians from around the globe contributed to the construction of the church. The church did not last long because in June 1973, Mohammed Daoud Khan who seized power from his cousin Zahir Shah and declared himself president of the newly created Republic of Afghanistan destroyed the church. There has been no known Protestant church in Afghanistan since 2010. Regardless of the persecution that is happening with those that proclaim to be Christians in Afghanistan, the spread of the Gospel is still happening. Though there is only .1 percent of the population claiming to be Christians, it is possible that there are more that are just afraid to report to the reporting agencies due to the persecution that is taking place. The current state of missions in Afghanistan is in upheaval. With the rise of the Islamic-State (IS) who are going door to door searching out those who claim to be Christian or other faiths that are not Islamic and giving them the ultimatum of converting back to Islam or dying. There is an organization called CURE International hospital, which specializes in pediatrics and women’s health, located in Kabul that is a Christian organization that is responsible for training most of the Afghan doctors. It was invited to come to Afghanistan from the Afghan Ministry of Public Health to take control of a partially restored hospital in Kabul in 2005. Though it serves the medical needs of women and children, also general surgery and family health, it is also a place where those that come for care hear about the Ultimate Healer, Jesus Christ. There might not be any Protestant churches in Afghanistan today, there is the spreading of the Gospel through the Body of Christ through CURE International which is ultimately what the true church is, the body. As mentioned earlier, that 99.7 percent of the population of Afghanistan is Muslim and only .3 percent is labeled as other with .1 of the .3 being Christianity. With the size of Afghanistan population .1 percent is very small. The persecution that is taking place the spread of Christianity could possibly catch fire. Just like the early church in Rome. Though the emperor tried to squash the movement of Christianity but only caused it to grow. The churches around the world would commit to prayer for Afghanistan and the people and spread of the Gospel, there could be a great revival and the Gospel could make a huge difference to the country. Proposed Strategy Ruth Siemens writes in a compilation that, “The church needs thousands of Christian professional people to finish evangelizing the world, like engineers, scientists, business people, healthcare workers, athletes, agriculturists… tentmakers who can integrate work and witness in the 21st century as pall did in the 1st century.” Afghanistan is a difficult country to try to spread the Gospel message. With the threat of persecution and death, Christian and Christian workers face hardships of all kinds when trying to spread the Gospel. It is a difficult task to try and bring Christian reading materials into the country so it will make it difficult to use tools to help spread the Gospel. The proposed strategy is to target a need in the country that would be easily accepted for entry or to team up with a ministry that is already working within the borders of Afghanistan. That need for this strategy is providing medical care and training. In a similar fashion the Doctors without Borders, CURE International Hospital has the same concept except they introduce those they serve to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Gathering a team together that has medical backgrounds that wants to use their talents or their “tent making” skills to not only bless those with their abilities, but also bless their lives with the news of the Gospel. After putting the team together raising the necessary funding to journey to Afghanistan would be the next hurtle to conquer. Working along side CURE will help give an understanding of what materials will need to be gathered, what would be acceptable to pass through customs and items that would not allow to be inside the country. During this time it would be wise to try to involve the participants of the group into a cultural awareness course or conduct one as the coordinator of the mission project. Taking the steps to get the people involved with understanding the culture will help them understand basically what to expect. No matter how much you can learn it will not totally eliminate possible culture shock. Depending on how CURE International works their housing, it would be beneficial to try to possibly find housing within the community, however with the rise of terrorist attacks and the terrorist group IS invading villages and cities it could be possibly more dangerous for foreigners to reside outside the safe compound that CURE International more than likely offers. Along with learning about the culture of Afghanistan, it is important to try to at least learn the basic communication language. It would be vital to learn questions and key words to be able to make a medical procedure go smoother and be more receptive by the natives. There more than likely be interpreters available, however in a medical emergency there might not be time for an interpreter to be available to talk between you and your patient. Being a tent maker and using the talents that god has given in the medical field will be a great tool to use to open the dialogue to present the Gospel to the Afghans that you will come into contact. Providing much needed medical care to a region that there is very few doctors and fewer beds in hospitals will provide great interaction opportunities to build relationships with the locals.

Summary There is a great need and opportunity to spread the Gospel to the country Afghanistan. The opportunity to provide medical care to a country that lacks the means and tools to provide proper care will be a great service. Afghanistan has the highest infancy morality rate and ranks 9th out 225 countries in death rates. The lack of basic clean air and water and the lack of personal hygiene has contributed to many infectious diseases in Afghanistan. These diseases are preventable and curable, however the high poverty rates and lack of employment opportunities, aside from working for the terrorist organization of the Taliban, the majority of Afghans cannot afford proper medical attention. Many families live in a very small dwellings that house upwards of twenty people, all family members. The close living quarters combined with the lack of personal hygiene contributes to the rate that people contract infectious diseases. Afghanistan’s history is filled with war and destruction. Their major religious beliefs also supports destruction by oppressing their own followers and persecuting other religions that are not of the Islamic persuasion. The country has never recovered from oppressive leaders and society has suffered. Lack of employee forces many to work with the same terrorist group, the Taliban, in order to have some sort of income to support their families. They work as henchmen and as poppy field workers to produce opium to help finance the Taliban. Putting together a medical team that is able to join forces with CURE International Hospital located in Kabul would be a great opportunity to open the door to spread good medical care and the Gospel. The threat level is very high but the reward of the risk is helping to complete the Great Commission. For the team of medical professionals that would be completing this proposed strategy, being able to be “tent makers” and use their talents to not only care for the physical body, but help save the spiritual body.
Bibliography
Central Intelligence Agency. “Afghanistan” The World Factbook. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/af.html (accessed November 29, 2015). Christian Aid Mission. “Afghanistan” http://www.christianaid.org/Interactive_World/countryPages/Afghanistan.aspx (accessed November 29, 2015. Christian Freedom International. “Persecution in Afghanistan: No Place of Refuge.” http://www.christianfreedom.org/the-christian-winter/persecution-in-afghanistan/ (accessed November 29, 2015). Country Studies. Afghan Family http://countrystudies.us/afghanistan/57.htm accessed (December 18, 2015). History World, History of Afghanistan, http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ad09 (accessed December 18, 2015). Joshua Project. “Country: Afghanistan” http://joshuaproject.net/countries/AF (accessed November 29, 2015). Medlycott, A.E. India and The Apostle Thomas: An Inquiry with a Critical Analysis of the Act A Thomae. London, EN: David Nutt, 1905. Merillat, Herbert Christian. Wandering in the East: The Gnostic Apostle Thomas http://web.archive.org/web/20040927210206/http://members.aol.com/didymus5/ch19.html (accessed December 18, 2015). McClung, Floyd. Living on the Devil’s Doorstep: From Kabul to Amsterdam. Seattle, WA: YWAM Publishing. 1996. Operation World. “Afghanistan: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.” Definitive Prayer Guide. http://www.operationworld.org/afgh (accessed November 29, 2015). Seth, Jacob Mesrovb. Armenians in India: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day. Delhi: Oxford Publishing. 1993. Winter, Ralph D. and Hawthorne, Steven C. Perspective on the World Christian Movement. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library. 2009.

--------------------------------------------
[ 1 ]. Central Intelligence Agency (web site) https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/af.html (accessed December 13, 2015).
[ 2 ]. Joshua Project (web site) http://joshuaproject.net/countries/AF (accessed December 13, 2015).
[ 3 ]. Central Intelligence Agency, Afghanistan: The World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/af.html accessed November 29, 2015.
[ 4 ]. History World, History of Afghanistan, http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ad09 accessed December 18, 2015
[ 5 ]. Ibid.
[ 6 ]. Ibid.
[ 7 ]. Ibid.
[ 8 ]. History World, History of Afghanistan, http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ad09 accessed December 18, 2015
[ 9 ]. Joshua Project, Country: Afghanistan, http://joshuaproject.net/countries/AF accessed November 29, 2015.
[ 10 ]. Central Intelligence Agency, Afghanistan: The World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/af.html (accessed November 29, 2015).
[ 11 ]. Operation World. Afghanistan: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Definitive Prayer Guide. http://www.operationworld.org/afgh accessed November 29, 2015.
[ 12 ]. Ibid.
[ 13 ]. Central Intelligence Agency, Afghanistan: The World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/af.html (accessed November 29, 2015).
[ 14 ]. Christian Freedom International. “Persecution in Afghanistan: No Place of Refuge.” http://www.christianfreedom.org/the-christian-winter/persecution-in-afghanistan/ (accessed November 29, 2015).
[ 15 ]. Christian Freedom International. “Persecution in Afghanistan: No Place of Refuge.” http://www.christianfreedom.org/the-christian-winter/persecution-in-afghanistan/ (accessed November 29, 2015).
[ 16 ]. Country Studies Afghan Family http://countrystudies.us/afghanistan/57.htm accessed December 18, 2015
[ 17 ]. Ibid.
[ 18 ]. Christian Freedom International. “Persecution in Afghanistan: No Place of Refuge.” http://www.christianfreedom.org/the-christian-winter/persecution-in-afghanistan/ (accessed November 29, 2015).
[ 19 ]. Herbert Christian Merillat, Wandering in the East: The Gnostic Apostle Thomas http://web.archive.org/web/20040927210206/http://members.aol.com/didymus5/ch19.html accessed December 18, 2015.
[ 20 ]. A.E. Medlycott, India and The Apostle Thomas: An Inquiry with a Critical Analysis of the Act A Thomae (London, EN: David Nutt, 1905), 71.
[ 21 ]. Jacob Mesrovb Seth, Armenians in India: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day, (Delhi: Oxford Publishing, 1993), 224.
[ 22 ]. Floyd McClung Living on the Devil’s Doorstep: From Kabul to Amsterdam, (Seattle, WA: YWAM Publishing, 1996), 67.
[ 23 ]. Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2009), 760.

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