In May 2006, I had the opportunity to perform a community service project delivering food and toys to an Afghan refugee camp. We began with a convoy briefing and were assigned to one of three convoy teams. The first convoy team was comprised of armed military personnel who would deploy first to establish a security perimeter around the refugee camp prior to our arrival.
The refugee camp is located west of Kabul. We departed at 0830 and arrived at the camp at 0900. We had to wear body armor while traveling to and from the camp. When we arrived at the camp, we were allowed to remove our body armor. I was assigned to the second convoy team. Our mission was to deliver toys to the children and play with them while the donated food was delivered to the adult refugees by the third convoy team.
Many of the refugees live in a bombed-out multistory building, although some live in tents. They have no electricity. Their water is located outside the building.
We estimated that there were between seventy-five to one hundred children in the camp. We delivered coloring books, crayons, soccer balls, soft footballs, soft rubber balls, dolls, balloons, kites, and bubble soap toys. When we arrived and the children saw that we had toys, we were mobbed. To say they were excited would be an understatement. But even though they appreciated the toys, what they wanted most was to play with us and to be held by us. The children just clung to us, held our hands, wanted to be picked up and held. Many of them gave me a kiss on the cheek. It was a very humbling experience.
We spent an hour distributing the toys, playing with the children, and delivering the food. When it was time to leave, the children lined up along the road to wave good-bye. Most of the children gave our team members a kiss on the cheek and a bouquet of flowered grass they had picked from the field. No translation was necessary when I held these sweet children in my arms. Their smiles and hugs said it all.
This experience was another testimony of the cruelty of war and of how Satan has brought about so much destruction and disparity into the lives of our Father in Heaven’s children. Life for these refugees is a day-to-day struggle for survival. I hope the continued donations of food and clothing will eventually lead these good people to a better life.
I have come to appreciate that the good people of Iraq and Afghanistan are children of our Father in Heaven. I have grown to love these people. I continue to hope and pray for their safety and success in becoming a self-sustaining nation, a nation that will allow the gospel of Jesus Christ to roll forth from border to border. As I have lived with these good people for over two years, I have come to appreciate and understand how much they need the gospel. Every day it is a blessing to serve the Lord and his children. This is truly one of the most satisfying experiences in my life. I am a servant of the Lord, and I am humbly going about my Father in Heaven’s business in his vineyard of Afghanistan.
Civilian Mentor to Ministry of Defense and Afghan National Police, Eugene J. Wikle, Faith in the Service, p24–26.