Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - Kabul, Afghanistan
We went to Istalif today--a beautiful little village north of Kabul known for its vineyards and pottery. Me? I think, more the clay pots, it should be known for its kabobs.
Our 2012 men's team traveled up to Istalif in April to visit the clinic our partner established and supported. We also ate kabobs by the river and...hands down...kabobs by the river was (and is) one of my top 5...maybe top 2...favorite meals of all time.
Istalif, this (now) idyllic community, was a place completely devastated and destroyed by the Taliban during the war in the 90s. The Taliban took a slash-and-burn approach when they seized control of Istalif, cutting down or burning almost every tree and grapevine in town. But over the last 15 years the people of Istalif have slowly rebuilt this area into the small, thriving community it is today.
And all it took was a map.
Sitting there by the river today, waiting for these delicious lamb kabobs, cooked by a local vendor over a small wood grill about the size of a computer keyboard, we were told the story of the rebuilding of Istalif--and the turning point in its reconstruction. Our host explained that after the war the community of Istalif was fractured and unable to unite and help each other. There was infighting and distrust which stopped any chance of rebuilding.
Then, someone got the idea to draw up a map--one showing each of the various neighborhoods in Istalif. The map ended up serving as a great tool in showing this war-torn, fractured community where each person fit into the community as a whole--giving everyone in Istalif a "big picture" look of their home...and of their neighbor's homes.
Map = Community.
A map is really just a diagram. A diagram of the many parts that make up the whole...and the best way to see where you are...and how to get to where you want to go. I couldn't quit thinking today that it's the same with the church. The church is just a picture of a body of many parts--the Body of Christ. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:12, "Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ."
And just like those folks in Istalif, if we don't look at the big picture to see where each of us fits into the whole...we're in trouble. We will miss our connection with each other (called "community") and we miss our connection with Christ. What would those people of Istalif have done if they hadn't seen that map...the big picture...and started helping each other? They would have continued to flounder and struggle...and eventually...their community would have collapsed in ruin. Likewise, if we, as part of a church called: Flatirons, don't draw together in community...we will eventually struggle, and without any support, we will also collapse in ruin.
A sobering thought.
One of the best things that happens on these men's trips is the connection (and community) that is built. The 7 of us have already bonded as a group of men from Flatirons with a connection that I know will carry on long after we have returned home, and this trip is a mere memory. I mean, spend 10 solid days together traveling, laughing, eating and doing life together...and you've got something. Paul called it a body of many parts. We call it church.
And a church can be anywhere. It can be at 355 W. South Boulder Road in Lafayette, CO...and it can also be along a river side in Istalif, Afghanistan. Each one a holy place where you can bump into Jesus.