It was Friday evening and we were having our last worship and prayer night at our friend’s house. We were glad to see quite a few of our expat community who were getting ready to leave within the coming days as the news spread about the fall of Herat and Kandahar. Just a few weeks before we ran into exactly the same Yamaha model digital piano I got from China, at downtown Kabul, which we bought for our worship meetings. It was a miracle in itself and we have been enjoying live worship for the first time since 2010. It has been an encouragement to the whole community in these last weeks.
Then somebody asked: “who is leaving this week?” All the hands went up except for ours and another couple…That evening we had a long conversation into the night with our friends trying to understand what the Lord is telling us to do…
Why do we have to leave now when…
Just two weeks before we moved into a new apartment in the new area, which was closer to the mountains with a nice view of Kabul and cleaner air. We were able to store newly arrived artificial turf for our football field on the parking lot of the basement. We set up our little studio in one of the rooms ready to create music. We have been enjoying our time with our new local friends, teaching them soccer, English and sharing stories. We praised God and we’re in awe of His goodness and faithfulness to us.
We lived on the East side of the city next to Barchi district with predominantly Hazara people living there. That morning looking out of our window, we noticed several military trucks pulling into the field in front of our house, where boys used to play cricket and soccer. Something was going on, but it was unusually peaceful in Kabul.
Closer to noon one of our friends, our regional leader called us and told us that Taliban might be entering the city in a few days and that we need to leave immediately. He offered to purchase tickets for us, and we made a decision to leave the next day. The clock was ticking, we had to make decisions about many things.
Our flight was scheduled for 7.30 p.m. At 8 a.m. we called a local taxi that was safe and went to see our friends to say goodbye and the traffic was as usual. When back at home, around 11:30, we received a call from a friend, who urged us to leave our house immediately because he said, “they are here, go to the airport”. Then we heard that Taliban were coming in from Barchi district which was next to us.
We packed our suitcases and called our landlord to hand him the keys and pay the next month’s rent. We were supposed to drop it by to him on the way to the airport. After talking to him, we tried to call the taxi company and the service was no longer available. The area we lived is a remote place with no street taxis. Then unexpectedly, we got a call from our landlord, who wanted to come over. He came with his wife and was very sad that we had to leave so soon. We asked him to give us a ride to a nearby taxi, he did and was checking on us the whole day to make sure we had safely got to the airport.
All the roads to the airport were blocked for a few hours and people had to walk long distances. Many people were leaving Kabul for other provinces in fear of war. The atmosphere had changed, there was fear, uncertainty and panic in the air.
Finally, after waiting for a couple of hours, we reached the airport. There was no security, no one was checking in as we were passing through the check points. More and more people kept arriving at the airport. The first few hours it seemed as if the airport was operating as usual, but at the check-in nothing was moving forward. After waiting for a couple of hours in the growing crowd, it was a time for our flight, and we made our way to the check-in desk and then realized that there was only one guy working for 3 different flights. The tension was rising, people were all over the place pushing their way, fighting with each other, it was getting scary. In desperation, I sent a voice message to one of our friends so they could pray for us.
Then at one point all the remaining personal took off their badges and left, leaving thousands of people inside the airport with no further instructions. Then we saw some people grabbing their suitcases and going through customs and on to the gate and further to the plane. We followed the crowd and when we reached the plane, it was packed with people. People were in fear and panic, screaming that the Taliban is going to kill them.
There was so much chaos! People broke into the stores to find water and food. There were a few fights among men at the airport, people were losing control!
We couldn’t go back to the city, so we had to stay overnight at the airport. Friends reached out to us and advised us to find the NATO or American troops assuring us that they would help us. We went downstairs and out and there were many people at different places with hopes to leave somehow. There were Afghan soldiers trying to escape on a military plane. One man came up to us and said that we should be careful, because the Taliban are coming in an hour to kill the soldiers. My husband went inside to find our lost bag and I was very nervous and anxious. He came out with a wheelchair and we loaded our heavy luggage on the wheelchair and started crossing over to the military side. When people saw us moving in that direction, they started following us and, in few minutes, there were a couple hundred of them. Then we were stopped by the laser ray of the American sniper, we raised our hands and turned back. There were some healthy families waiting on the side of the building in black bulletproof cars. After some time, all the people were asked to go inside, and the soldiers locked the doors at the gates, and we saw a few planes taking off.
In the morning we started hearing gunfire outside and suddenly there were a few thousand people on a tarmac surrounded by the US troops who were trying to control the crowd. One man was shot, and his family was weeping as the soldiers were trying to save his life. Inside the airport we started seeing robbers who came with the purpose of looting. Since we were foreigners, we felt that we need to leave airport since it was no longer safe for us. We took our phones and laptops and erased all our apps and information that could put us at risk. We got into the lift and one boy joined us and he warned us that it is not safe to go outside because the Taliban are there and that 3 people were killed outside.
We went inside and our hearts were pounding. We sat down and started to pray until we felt peace to leave. As we prayed the Holy Spirit spoke through these word “who is the man that you fear him.” This whole time through the media and people we heard of the Taliban and what they have been doing and the fear of them has grown in our hearts. They are ordinary people and we shall not be afraid of them. The Lord strengthened our hearts and we went outside. As we walked out there was a crowd coming out of the tarmac heading towards the gate and we joined the crowd. As we looked around, we saw open suitcases laying all around, broken cars and fences. After 200 meters we approached the Taliban check point. On one side they were collecting phones from people. I put my hand into my purse to get my phone and one Taliban addressed my husband and asked to open his backpack. There was a projector with speakers. Due to the crowds he let us pass.
When we reached the gate, we had to carry our luggage ourselves, we had heavy suitcases and were unable to move them fast. One soldier saw how difficult it was and he let us use the cart and walk on the road. We loaded the luggage and moved on. The Taliban were withholding crowds from outside and controlling the ones which were exiting. It wasn’t an easy task for them, and they had sticks and wires in one hand and a gun in another shooting to the air. People were very scared and in panic with the uncertainty of what could happen the next moment. With God’s help we left the airport and safely arrived at the house of our friends, the guest house. That day the chaos at the airport left several people dead and US troops closed down the airport for an uncertain period of time to improve its security for safer evacuations.
This whole time we were in connection with our friends in the US, who prayed for us and tried to help us with evacuation. We are not US citizens and what we heard is that the US will be evacuating their citizens, US allies and vulnerable Afghans. We were not eligible for evacuations. But our American friends got our names to the State Department list and encouraged us to go to the airport.
Along with our four American friends, we went to the airport following the directions received from the task force department. We had to find the right gate, which was all the way on another side of the city. We drove up to a wrong gate, which was controlled by one of the government military groups. There were a few hundred people by the gate and a few times the soldiers had to fire into the air to disperse the crowds. It has been difficult to watch people come with whole families, young children and elderly parents attempting to get through the gate. After an hour and a half, we got a permission to get in. They checked our bags and let us go through their territory towards the US base. We didn’t know that it was a long walk about 3 km. We passed by a burning armored personnel carrier and after a while they got us up on the back of the truck which was full of guns and we made it to the US base gate. This was the gate we were supposed to enter through, but we were glad God made a different way for us, because it was very intense there.
The line for evacuation flights was long and when they checked our passports, we were asked to step away from the line. We were not eligible. A few minutes later, we went up to our four friends who were talking to some soldiers. Our friends asked the soldiers to help us, having mentioned that our names were on the State Department list. A few minutes later, we were the first ones in the line and on our way for registration and boarding.
It took us another 5 days to get from Qatar to our home country, but we were safe and taken care of at the military base.
Sometimes God does a miracle and other times, He gives us strength and patience to go through situations. We’ve experienced both!
It’s been difficult to rest knowing that many of our friends are still in Kabul. Some of them tried to leave and attempted to get through the gate several times, but unfortunately, they could not pass through the crowds. Some of them got in but because they lack the proper papers, they were put out again… It has been a real struggle for many. We are praying for them and trying to encourage them daily with the right words.
We would like to express our deep gratitude to thousands of people who had been praying this whole time. We are grateful to our special friends in the US who were working hard to get us to safety.
Knowing that thousands of people will be reading this article, we would like to ask you to keep praying for Afghanistan, because the harvest is ripe, but the workers are few. It is not the end, but just the beginning of what God is going to do in this nation. God put Afghanistan in focus for a reason. He wants to bring salvation to many unreached ethnic groups in this region of the world! Please continue to pray with us.
**Due to safety concerns, Modern Day Missions cannot disclose the name of the author.
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