I’ve got two new friends. And they have a blog. Ryan and Andrew will spend the next 15 months visiting locations around the world where International Teams is seeing “lives and communities transformed by the power of God.” Ryan writes the stories, and Andrew snaps the pictures (the photo in the header of this post is Andrew’s handiwork). They’ve been in Athens for the past three weeks, and I’m very impressed with their work. Do follow along. Here’s a well told story that they recently posted about a refugee they’ve befriended at our refugee center.
According to the world, Javod is an immigrant, a refugee, forgotten and voiceless. He is an invisible man. He is one of thousands, hundreds of thousands, displaced and uprooted, expelled from whatever home they’ve known. He is a statistic, and a poorly recorded one at that.
According to Greece, Javod does not exist.
Javod remembers the day when the running began. Born and raised in the city of Ghazni, Afghanistan, he was still a young boy when the Taliban came to power. In an attempt to preemptively assure complete and total control of the area, it was made illegal to possess any sort of gun, a law that was strictly and unforgivingly enforced. But not always with the utmost obedience. Because in such a land, to give away one’s last vestige of protection was to accept and admit defeat, complete subjugation to those that had demanded it. This the Taliban knew. But they would not be deterred from their quest for total control, and so they clenched their fist on Ghazni without scruples and without mercy.
Javod remembers walking about town one day when some men stopped him, offering candy and cookies. And with their treats they spoke sweetly to this young Afghan boy, asking him questions about his home and his family, questions that were rewarded with gifts. And did he know if his father owned a gun? It was not a problem if he did, it was okay and he could tell the truth. Javod was 8 years old when he said yes.
He remembers approaching home later that day to find Taliban men outside with his father, handcuffed and under interrogation. As he stood watching, the men ransacked his house, searching for the weapon that his father insisted did not exist but Javod in his innocence had revealed. When they found it, Javod’s father and mother and younger sister where brought out of the house. They were reminded that it was illegal to posses a weapon under the reign of the Taliban, that they were liars, and that to lie was deserving of death. And then they were executed.
He remembers the men walking passed him, away from the life they had just stripped him of. How one handed him a cookie and patted his head, saying that he had been a good boy for telling the truth. The neighbors helped him bury the bodies of his family and gave him a place to live as long as he worked in their fields, but they could do no more than that. He was eight when the running began.