The Greeks, the Greekish, and the Afghans: Cultural Ties Pave the Way to Jesus

Among the throngs were some Greeks, and those Greeks wanted to see Jesus. What did they do? They came to the most Greekish of the disciples.

In a matter of days or weeks, 11 families of Afghan believers will Lord willing land in the US with their religious visas in hand. Through relationships that only God can orchestrate, God connected Live Global to these Christians after they all escaped Afghanistan, running for their lives after the Taliban took over.

“Upon the Taliban takeover, our family became powerful and decided to kill us as they knew we were Christian and thought by killing us they will be rewarded on the judgement day,” said one of the Afghan believers we’re partering with.

While in the US these families can be safe from the death threats the Taliban has placed on them. But more than that, they can begin ministries among an unreached people group in the US like no one else can.

The precedent of cultural ties paving the way to Jesus begins, of course, in Scripture.

Greeks Among Jews at Passover

In John 12, passover week begins and Jerusalem is full of Jews from all over the world. This even included Jews from the diaspora who were identified as Greeks because they spoke Greek and their culture was heavily influenced by their homelands outside Israel. 

Among the throngs were some Greeks, and those Greeks wanted to see Jesus. What did those Greeks do? The word of God says:

“Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” (John 12:20-22)

The Most Greekish Disciples

This was a powerful, cardinal moment in the earthly ministry of Jesus–a signal to Jesus that the hour had come. In such an encounter, which disciples did the Greeks approach?

They approached the ones they are most comfortable with, and maybe even knew from Bethsaida or Jesus’ itinerary ministry. They came to the most Greekish of the disciples—Andrew and Phillip. John is explicit, making sure we tie in the Greeks’ choice to approach Phillip and Andrew with the fact that Phillip was from Bethsaida in Galilee. 

Bethsaida was in Israel and known to be very Greek. In fact Phillip and Andrew are Greek names with no Hebrew equivalent. The only reason a first century Jew would have given their son a Greek name would have been if they were Greek influenced Jews. In other words Phillip and Andrew had backgrounds that were culturally and linguistically fluent in Greek.

Cultural and Linguistic Ties to the Greeks

When the Greeks from the diaspora found the disciples in Jerusalem, it was the ones with the closest cultural and linguistic ties whom they approached in this moment of prophetic fulfillment.

Just like in the days of Jesus, Phillip, and Andrew, people today are still drawn toward others who share their culture and language. This is why we at Live Global are so excited about the Afghan Initiative.

The Afghan Diaspora

“The Afghan diaspora in the United States is comprised of approximately 182,000 individuals who were either born in Afghanistan or reported Afghan ancestry, according to tabulations from the U.S. Census Bureau 2019 ACS.”

Migration Information Source

This Afghan population is largely unreached with the Gospel and it’s our heart’s desire that they will hear the Good News of Jesus. Understanding the reality that Apostles Phillip and Andrew encountered, who better to reach the Afghan Diaspora in the United States than Afghan nationals who came to faith in Christ out of a Muslim background themselves.

The Afghan Initiative

When the US troops pulled out of Afghanistan in 2021, the country quickly fell to the Taliban. With death threats on their backs, Afghan pastors and evangelists fled the country with their families. Now, it’s the pleasure of Live Global in partnership with EveryEthne and ABWE to sponsor 11 of these Afghan Christian families with religious visas to the United States where they will begin ministry among the Afghan Diaspora living in the US. 

Pray with us that these Afghan families will be like modern day Phillips and Andrews, approachable to other Afghans. Pray that they will share the Gospel boldly and that many Afghans in the United States will come to Christ through this ministry.

“I gave my heart to Jesus in 2019 and started sharing the Gospel with others,”

Afghan national partner

“My dream is to serve God and share the Gospel. I want to be like the Apostle Paul.”

Another Afghan national partner

Jesus’ Message for the Greeks: “He Must Follow Me”

John never tells us whether the Greeks who wanted to see Jesus ever got to him. We’re not told whether they believed in Him or were saved. But what we do see in John 12 is that Jesus’ words to Andrew and Phillip when they approached him about the Greeks is a message of warning.

“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” (John 12:25-26)

The Stakes are High. Let’s Go!

Jesus is looking for true followers who give up everything. The stakes were clear and high for the Greeks. The same is true for the Afghans living in the United States we pray will come to faith in Christ through our Afghan partners’ ministries that are about to begin. When a Muslim comes to faith in Christ, they are almost always met by strong opposition, rejection, and threats from friends and family. They will have to give up everything to follow Jesus.

Nevertheless, following Jesus is always worth it. “If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:26).

As visas get approved one by one, our 11 Afghan partner families can’t wait to get started in the US. Will you be part of this?

Learn About Afghan Initiative