Flatirons Men's Afghanistan Trip Day Four - Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Okay. So while we're here in Afghanistan we're sort of looking at and studying through the book of Nehemiah each morning before breakfast. It's a pretty cool story about a guy...a Jewish exile, actually...who goes home to fix a wall and rebuild a city. I don't know how many times I've read Nehemiah in the Bible...probably dozens, but for the first time...I think I'm finally getting it...finally seeing what that experience must have been like...and what Nehemiah had to go through to rally his people, organize his work crews, and rebuild Jerusalem. The Afghans are doing that every day here.
We saw a lot of the city today which made me think even more about Nehemiah. But the Jerusalem Nehemiah rebuilt had been destroyed thousands of years ago...and the destruction of Kabul is still a fresh wound with the scars and aftermath apparent at every turn.
The day started with a trip to the south end of Kabul to deliver over 200 blankets we had sorted the day before to a public school and ended with a tour of the city -- all of which required a lot of time in Kabul traffic. Now, I don't know how to describe this experience other than to say, "You don't know what it's like until you've been in it." First, there are no traffics signs or signals or directives whatsoever, and even if they had lane markers...I don't think it would matter. To the outsider, Kabul traffic appears to be one, big chaotic (and noisy) mess of cars randomly nosing in-and-out of the side streets, circling the roundabouts and forcing their way into the various thoroughfares...like a Los Angeles rush hour traffic jam...on crack! Instead, we all have come to see that it's more like those extreme close-ups you see on the Discovery Channel of corpuscles racing through the bloodstream -- with every particle working in tandem with the whole...bringing life to the body or city.
The extended tour of Kabul later in the day only reinforced my thoughts on Nehemiah. Kabul is a city in the midst of repairing itself. We are witnesses to the aggressive reconstruction going on...right alongside of the neglected wreckage...and war-torn skeletal structures that had once been places of glory and pride. The biggest example of this came when our host took our team to (what used to be) one of the presidential palaces used to house visiting dignitaries. It was bombed out and destroyed during the civil war back in '92 or '93. We drove up to the front entrance of this estate and were shocked to see the bullet-riddled shell of what had once been a magnificent guest house. There were still remnants of the marble staircases and ornate brick work.
As we walked through the rubble of the palace I couldn't help thinking of Nehemiah walking through the rubble of Jerusalem before he instigated a plan to rebuild it. It must have seemed as hopeless to him as it did to me -- standing in the remains of all that grandeur. But Nehemiah had great vision and passion and he forged ahead anyway...and finished what he started. Even though it seems hopeless to me, I hope and pray that the people of Afghanistan are equally successful in rebuilding their country...for their sake and for ours. The world would be a better place if this happens. But in the book of Nehemiah we can read that the Israelites were able to rebuild Jerusalem because of Nehemiah's clear vision and because of the unwavering cooperation with each other...and because of their unity in withstanding attack and oppression.
We need to keep praying for God to send another Nehemiah.