Will the New Silk Road stabilize Afghanistan?
By Sharon Fischer
On Monday, December 5, representatives from 90 nations will convene in Bonn, Germany, for a conference to determine the future of Afghanistan. The last Bonn conference was 10 years ago in 2001, when coalition countries and other stakeholders met to determine the reconstruction and stabilization in Afghanistan after the Taliban was ousted. Now, the central piece of an Afghan-roadmap post-2014 when the last NATO troops leave; is the New Silk Road strategy.
Spearheaded by the U.S., the New Silk Road Strategy is one of integrating land-locked Afghanistan with its surrounding countries via new transport corridors, and re-establishing its ancient position as a trade hub of the Silk Road that ran from China to the Mediterranean. By turning Afghanistan from a land-locked country to a land-linked country, it is hoped that this will spur economic development, regional integration, and thereby stabilize the country from once again being a safe haven for jihadists to launch attacks against the U.S. and other countries in the world.
The idea of resurrecting the Silk Road is not new. It had existed 3,000 years ago, but the notion that it would once again be rebuilt was first given to Chinese Christians back in the 1920s. In the 1920s, Chinese students at the Northwest Bible Institute in China were given a vision for an evangelistic campaign to send Chinese missionaries to all of the Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim peoples who live “between” China and Jerusalem-from where the Gospel first sprung. This vision-called Back to Jerusalem (BTJ)-was forced to go underground for decades due to government restrictions and persecution. Now, in 2011, this vision is being realized as the New Silk Road is being constructed by the international community-Asian Development Bank, US AID, UNESCAP, EU, various other international organizations, and multinational companies.
In especially dark places like Afghanistan and Pakistan, the hotbed of jihadists such as Taliban, al Qaeda, Haqqani Network and dozens of other terrorist organizations, China is already making a big presence through their investments in these two countries. As a neighboring country and starting point of the Silk Road, it makes logical sense for China to be proactive and involved in these countries. In the spiritual sense, it is amazing that Communist China will be the one sending out missionaries who are prepared for martyrdom in order to spread the Gospel to these dark, Muslim places. These once hopeless places where women are brutally tortured and murdered, where children grow up with no hope and give themselves as suicide bombers, where the people have only known bondage and oppression, will now see a great light.
“The people who walked in darkness, have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.” (Isaiah 9:2).
It is indeed a miracle that the ancient Silk Road, which once brought the Kings from the East to offer gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense to the newborn Jesus in Bethlehem, will once again be used. Through the martyrdom and evangelism by these Chinese missionaries, even converted kings, sultans, shahs, sheiks, tribal leaders in Central Asia and the Middle East–the new Kings from the East–may once again come bearing gifts: this time the gift of the gospel back to Jerusalem on the New Silk Road. As for the current NATO strategy of reintegration and reconciliation (R2) in dealing with the Taliban, true reintegration and reconciliation can only come from a hardened heart that has been changed by the love of Jesus Christ.