Christian Education

Celia Stone: Serving Christ in Afghanistan | Chroniclers

Born to missionary parents in Tabriz, Iran, J. Christy Wilson often heard his parents pray for a place called Afghanistan. As a young child, Wilson was asked by their Iranian pastor what he wanted to be when he grew up. He said he wanted to be a missionary in Afghanistan. The pastor told Wilson that missionaries are not allowed in this country. The boy replied, “That’s why I want to be a missionary there.

Wilson never doubted this call from God. After graduating from Princeton University, Princeton Theological Seminary and a doctorate. in Islamic studies from Edinburgh, Scotland, Wilson and his wife Betty left for Afghanistan in 1951. He was invited by the Afghan Minister of Education to teach English in Kabul.

With missionaries strictly prohibited, Wilson became what is known as a “tent maker.” This is a Christian who earns little or no money from a missionary agency or church, but works in secular work with the goal of molding Jesus and building the church.

The apostle Paul wrote that Christian workers were right to expect to be paid for the ministry, but he himself hardly ever accepted money from the church. He made tents for a living while preaching and writing the gospel.

“After that Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, originally from Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker like them, he stayed and worked with them. Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. (Acts 18: 1-4)

“Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well. You will surely remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and our difficulties; we worked day and night so that we wouldn’t be a burden to anyone as we preach the gospel of God to you. You are my witness, and also God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. “(1 Thessalonians 2: 8-10)

As a “tent maker” like Paul, Christy Wilson taught English for 22 years in public schools in Afghanistan and even gave private lessons to the Crown Prince. He served as a chaplain for expatriates who gathered for worship. After 18 years, the government allowed them to build the Kabul Community Christian Church on neutral soil, but no Afghans were allowed to attend. Ken Wilson, author of “Where No One Has Heard,” a biography of J. Christy Wilson Jr., wrote that three years after the sanctuary was consecrated, soldiers came and began to demolish part of the wall of the church. A member of the congregation approached the mayor of Kabul, warning him that God would overthrow their government if they touched the house of God. “Before long, Christy Wilson was declared persona non grata by the Afghan government. The students were becoming disciples of Christ, and some Afghan officials were determined to get rid of the corrupting influence that was behind it all.

Betty and Christy Wilson had to leave Afghanistan in 1973. Ken Wilson continued: “Just four months later, on Tuesday July 17, 1973, Afghan soldiers completed the destruction of the church building. That same night, King Mohammed Zahir Shah, who had ruled for 40 years, was overthrown in a coup and the 227-year-old Afghan monarchy ended forever. When Christy heard the news, he fell to the ground and cried.

Celia Stone is the children’s minister at Farmville Presbyterian Church.

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