Rescue in Afghanistan

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Freed From Terror: Covert Rescue Mission in Afghanistan

Story by Christmas Beeler
Photos courtesy of Far Reaching Ministries

Parental discretion advised due to references of disturbing events.

God is answering prayers for believers currently risking their lives in “Ghost Operations” to save brothers and sisters in Afghanistan. Calvary Chapel Pastor Wes Bentley of Far Reaching Ministries (FRM) shared his urgent prayer request in late August/early September with the Calvary Chapel family of churches and recently reported that God has miraculously aided him and his team in helping Christians escape from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

This band of Christian men—including U.S. Navy Seals, Special Ops Marines, Green Berets, missionaries, and soldiers from other countries—has rescued nearly 155 men, women, and children trapped in Afghanistan over the past six weeks. Pastor Wes credits God for their rescue, many of whom are Christians—along with locating about 250 more now waiting in the underground pipeline. “The fact that we’ve been able to get 155 people out so far without losing a single life is amazing,” Wes testified, “a miracle of the Lord.”

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When the U.S. military was pulled out of the country in mid-August, the nation quickly plummeted into a nightmare situation of terrorism, brutality, and death. With the collapse of the Afghan National Army and the flight of the country’s president, the Taliban quickly took over; ISIS terrorists are also at large and believed to be behind several suicide bombings. Independent groups like Amnesty International have reported ongoing brutal Taliban raids with civilians killed in the crossfire.

 

Victims’ Horrific Plight

Pastor Wes recounted one heartbreaking story of a young Muslim mother and her three daughters “that hit me the hardest.” The woman’s brother-in-law, a known criminal, was released from jail by the Taliban and made a high-ranking Taliban officer. “He brutally tortured and killed his own brother, then [sexually assaulted] his brother’s 4-year-old daughter and her mother. The 6-year-old daughter witnessed it and was extremely traumatized,” Wes reported. The woman and her three daughters escaped Afghanistan and, disillusioned with Islam, came to an underground Christian church searching for answers.

Wes and some of his team took the woman and her daughters to lunch, wanting to know how they could help them. Wearing the same clothing they had escaped in, the sober young woman and her three frightened daughters did not smile as they ate what was “probably their first decent meal in months,” Wes recalled. “The young mother began to tell me that her brother-in-law who killed her husband had contacted her and told her that if she did not come back, he would kill her entire family [still in Afghanistan], about 15 people.” Her situation was even more desperate because “her rent was due, and they had no money for rent or food. When the 9-year-old heard her mother was thinking about going back, she began to weep.”

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This young mother witnessed the brutal torture and killing of her husband at the hand of his brother, a former convict-turned-Taliban officer, just before the man sexually assaulted her and her youngest daughter. Far Reaching Ministries (FRM) is not only providing physical necessities but offering spiritual care and the hope of Christ to this family and others like them who have been deeply traumatized by the terrorists who are now in power in Afghanistan. FRM has committed to freeing as many people as possible in the coming months.

Wes gently shared with the young mother Jesus’ promise to the weary: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He urged her not to put her young daughters in danger again for the sake of the adults still in Afghanistan. “I told her that we would cover her rent and food, and that I would send a team to extract all of her family members.” After lunch, as the team rose to leave, “The little girl came and put her arms around me and began to cry. I leaned down and kissed her on top of the head and told her not to worry; I would not let anyone hurt her or her family. She would not let go of my hand.” Wes and the team took the young family to a store to get them winter clothing, shoes, and supplies. When they took the little girls for ice cream, then “I saw the first smiles.”

 

The God of Angel Armies

Wes cited Psalm 20:7, which says, Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. He expounded, “We hold on to that fact when we are going into these dangerous places. The Bible tells us that we serve the God of angel armies.”

Recently, Wes and his team landed on a mountain in a country bordering Afghanistan and climbed on foot for two days to reach the top to survey the region with drones. The air was thin at the extreme altitudes, which slowed their progress on the first day. By the second, the men had acclimatized. They prayed, strategized, broke into smaller teams, and began the dangerous effort of rescuing people via “rat trails”—hidden escape routes to landing zones. Working with more than 22 FRM missionaries on the ground who can blend in with locals, the special-ops team was able to locate and evacuate those in desperate need.

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Calvary Chapel Pastor Wes Bentley of Far Reaching Ministries and his special operations team climb a mountain on the border of Afghanistan at the start of a recent covert rescue mission. His group of Green Berets, Special Ops Marines, and local missionaries are all Christians; they have already rescued 155 people trapped in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan in the last six weeks.

“God is helping us get to people before the Taliban gets them,” Wes testified. “We were contacted by [a global Christian organization] and asked if we could help get their country director out of Afghanistan. He was being hunted by the Taliban. Before the collapse, they had sent him a letter [saying] they were going to kill him brutally.” In fact, when Wes received the call, Taliban soldiers were already conducting a door-to-door search and were “just a few hours away from finding him.” Wes dispatched two former Marines and Special Forces veterans with a local ally, and they rescued the Christian leader “about two hours before the Taliban would have found him. He is now in a safe location.”

None of those who have been rescued have been brought back to the U.S. “We are relocating them to other countries; unfortunately, our [U.S.] government is doing everything they can to stop it,” Wes believes, “because if these people get to America and tell what they went through, this is a complete disaster for the [current] Administration.”

 

Genocide and Fear

Despite mainstream media reports to the contrary, Wes commented grimly, “Genocide is taking place in Afghanistan. We have many people on the ground recording what is going on. I have video on my phone of people being pulled out of their cars and their throats being cut while their families are watching. We have video of 10-year-old girls being taken away to be [sexually assaulted] by the Taliban.” Though Wes is no stranger to the brutalities of war, having spent 26 years training chaplains in South Sudan and serving God in other dangerous countries, he lamented, “It is horrible to see … but through it all, many miracles have happened.”

The small percentage of Christians in Afghanistan have faced intense persecution for years. FRM has supported 22 Christian missionaries and their families there. “If you’re found out to be a believer, you’ll probably be killed by your own family,” Wes said. “There have been salvations, but the growth hasn’t been large.” When FRM missionaries told Wes that the Taliban were hunting down and killing people, he knew the Lord was calling him to lead a rescue mission.  

Even though the situation is desperate, some Afghan people are torn about whether to stay in hiding or make the courageous effort to leave. Wes explained, “They are afraid if they are caught trying to leave, they will be killed. They are dealing with: ‘Do I stay, keep my head down, try to be quiet, and have a hard life? Or do I take a chance for freedom—and if I do, my daughters could be taken as sexual slaves, or my family members could be murdered.’” Because many of those rescued have been “heavily traumatized,” FRM missionaries seek to minister to them and bring comfort through the love of Christ.

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Wes hugs a 9-year-old Afghan girl whose little sisters and mother were assaulted and traumatized by Taliban soldiers before they escaped the country. Far Reaching Ministries is helping with their necessary expenses so that they do not have to return to Afghanistan and will seek to rescue the rest of her family still trapped there—a promise that made the somber little girl smile.

The Cost of a Life

Putting together the special operation is expensive—running about $7,500 per rescued person—more than $1 million so far. “We are planning for a three-year operation and estimate it will cost $10 million,” Wes said. “The cost seems extreme, but how could I put a cost on a human life? What would I be willing to pay for my own wife or child?”

Wes explained, “FRM has been in 9 of the 10 most dangerous Islamic countries in the world”—including South Sudan. “It’s challenging in Afghanistan right now because the Taliban has taken over the entire nation. So we’re having to work as best we can. Movement is almost impossible; there are roadblocks and checkpoints everywhere. … I can’t go into the details. … The Taliban is watching us; they know what we’re doing.” FRM continues to locate new escape routes amidst a dangerous and fluid war-time landscape.

The organization has received “over 1,300 requests for the extraction of Christians still in hiding,” said Wes, who will return to Afghanistan as soon as the current FRM team returns from its rotation.

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The treacherous terrain is just one of many obstacles. Wes, who is no stranger to war and working amidst terrorists for the past 26 years with FRM, said that the Afghanistan rescue missions are especially challenging because “movement is almost impossible” due to the Taliban’s extensive security checkpoints and roadblocks. He is seeking to raise an estimated $10 million to complete the “Ghost Operations” amidst danger and brutal terrorism.

Join the Effort

To his brothers and sisters in Christ, Wes requests, “Pray that God will bring the provision because it will cost about $10 million. We are committed to getting them out one way or another. Pray that God will just open up the gates and pour down treasure from heaven so that we can rescue these people.” Though FRM has various ministries in Africa and other parts of the world, Wes affirmed, “None of this money will be used for anything other than to get these people out of Afghanistan.” FRM continues to help feed, clothe, shelter, and minister to those that have been rescued.

When asked how believers could pray for him personally, Wes answered, “Just pray for the safety of our people and those we are trying to rescue. Those are the most important issues.” FRM also asks for prayer for the Christians still in danger in Afghanistan.

Wes finds inspiration in the story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by risking his life and spending his entire fortune. “He made a dangerous choice to try and save as many as he could,” Wes commented, drawing a parallel with the genocide in Afghanistan. “[It] should have been the job of our government not to allow this catastrophe to happen. But sometimes it takes just one man doing the right thing.” To this end, Wes seeks “to get the word out for the whole body of Christ to provide.” Though the effort is dangerous, he finds great comfort in remembering that God commands the armies of heaven—and He is on their side.

The Lord of [angelic] hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Psalm 46:7

                  

TO DONATE to the Afghanistan Rescue:

Visit frmusa.or/go/

Or call (951) 677-4474, Edward Amaya or Shawn Stone

                  

 
All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2021 Calvary Chapel Magazine (CCM). All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.

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