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What happened when the Afghan Government Bulldozed the House of God

August 23, 2010

The remarkable Dr. J. Christy Wilson, Jr. and his wife Betty made their home in Afghanistan for 22 years. Their stories of faith and Christian service are told in the book of memories, More to be Desired than Gold, that Christy’s students at Gordon-Conwell collected and published in honor of their beloved teacher. At the end of the book, Christy tells the story of the destruction of the House of God, the only Christian church ever permitted in Kabul. Numerous Afghanis had come to faith in the early 1970s, including “blind Paul,” a Muslim who went on to translate the Bible into the Dari language. But Satan became furious because of the glory abounding to Jesus Christ, and moved against Christy Wilson and the church through the hand of the Afghan government.

When the Afghan government took on Christ's church, an era of trouble began immediately.

“Betty and I were ordered out of the country in three days,” Christy writes. The Muslim government then destroyed the Christian Church in Kabul, after having given permission three years earlier for it to open. “When troops arrived and started knocking down the wall between the street and the Church building prior to destroying it, a German Christian businessman, Hans Mohr, went to see the mayor of Kabul to see if he could get him to rescind the order.

The mayor of Kabul had been educated in Germany. Mr. Mohr said to the mayor, “If your government touches that House of God, God will overthrow your Government!”

This proved to be a prophetic word.

Soldiers, police and bulldozers arrived at the church. “The congregation,” wrote Christy Wilson, “instead of opposing them, offered them tea and cookies.” Christians all around the world prayed and many wrote letters to Afghan Embassies. Billy Graham and other Christian leaders signed a statement of concern and sent it to King Zahir Shah. To no avail.

Christy Wilson writes, “The Afghan Government received a secret police report that there was an “underground church” in Afghanistan. Since they did not understand this term, they dug twelve feet below the foundation looking for the underground church!”

On July 17, 1973, the Muslims completely destroyed the church building and finished digging up the foundation.

That very night, King Zahir Shah, who had ruled for 40 years, was overthrown in a coup staged by his enemy, his brother-in-law. The king lived in exile in Italy for the next 23 years. Christy Wilson writes, “Afghans, who are quick to see omens in events, say that Jesus Christ came down from heaven and overthrew the government because it had overthrown His Church.” Then, in 1978, the government again fell, and in 1979 the Russians invaded. “Millions of Afghans had to flee their country as refugees. One of them said to me,” Christy Wilson writes, “’Ever since our Government destroyed the Christian Church, God has been judging our country.”

So we are eager to say: “Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the earth, Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name! Bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before Him all the earth!” —Psalm 96:8-9

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