The Trifecta of Difficulties
How is so massive a people so relatively untouched by not only missionary work but also relief and development efforts as well? There are three interrelated reasons, a trifecta if you will, that makes living, working, and ministering among the Pashtun one of, if not the most difficult task in missions today. There are three interrelated reasons that some workers call the trifecta of Pashtun work.
1. Language and Culture
First their language and culture, in contrast to the languages and cultures surrounding them are, shall we say, and acquired tasted. Their language is both difficult to pronounce and grammatically complex, much more so than the Persian and Urdu spoken by the peoples and workers around them. Their interpretation of and practical application of Islam is also more extreme than that of their neighbors. Along with this, their separation and treatment of women is more extreme. Few and far between are the workers who are willing to plunge into this harsh world. Fewer still are those that thrive and last. But wait, there’s more.
2. Living Conditions
“Pashutnistan”, though a combination of topography, neglect and their tendency to scare off the few foreigners who seek to help them, has some of the very worst living conditions on earth. Basic sanitation and electricity is completely non-existent anywhere but the major cities of the Pashtun homeland, to say nothing of medical care or education opportunities. In the few major cities like Kandahar, Peshawar, or Jalalabad, the situation is only marginally better. Combine the open sewage, with the lack of electricity, and the 100+ degree heat that lasts nearly 6 months of the year and it is not difficult to see how living and ministering among these already hard to live among people is still an unfinished task. But wait, there’s more.
3. War Zone
Anyone who is vaguely familiar with the news or current events can take a look at a map of the Afghanistan/Pakistan region, look at their respective border regions with each other and say accurately, “That’s about the most dangerous place on earth.” And they would be right. While these two countries enjoy relative stability in general, the “Pashtunistan” regions are largely lawless, no go zones even for the citizens of those countries, to say nothing of outsiders. Pashtunistan is home base and largely a safe haven for the Taliban and other violent insurgent groups. Bombings, kidnappings, and other violent acts are common as are military operations attempting to counter them. To live in Pashtunistan is to live in a war zone.
With this trifecta of difficulty in constant play, a residential presence in the Pashtun homeland is difficult and costly. However, these are people God loves and for whom Christ died. They are also, with the right amount of courage, creativity, and perseverance, a very reachable people.
Please join us in passionately praying for the Pashtun:
- That God will send out courageous, creative workers who will live among the Pashtun either in their homeland or in gateway cities near it.
- That God will bless and speed the translation efforts of the Pashtun Bible. (As of now there is very little usable scripture in Pashto and no full Bible).
- That the hard to reach Pashtun homeland will be penetrated with the Gospel though creative means such as radio programs, the internet, and social media.