STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 12/21/2009
Brent Fryling '92
Four years in Afghanistan brought this eternal truth front and center for these alumni.
For as long as I can remember I have believed the God I worship knows best. Things do not escape the God of Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, and Brent Fryling. But in 2003 when this God asked my wife and me to move to Afghanistan, I had my doubts.
Jodi and I graduated from Gordon in 1991 and 1992 respectively. After graduate studies in education for Jodi and medical school for me, we served on a Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona; then on to Memphis, Tennessee, to work with a Christian medical practice for the underserved. And then came the call.
I remember sitting in a restaurant in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and a friend saying to me, “All they need is a medical director—I think you should move to Afghanistan.” I had just been on a two-week tour of Afghanistan, where I had met some of the most hospitable, courageous people in the world in some of the most hellish circumstances.
In early 2004 we were off to Afghanistan for four years that changed us forever. We have now returned to Memphis, but not a day goes by that we don’t reflect on what God did in our lives and the lives of those around us.
In Afghanistan God led Jodi to teach English at a local college and me to a public health program that treated tuberculosis. What started with one clinic and 50 patients grew to 11 clinics with over 2,500 patients. One of the most joyous parts of this job was empowering local Afghan physicians to help their own people.
With a regime change occurring and many local warlords forced to hand over their power to a central government, there was much unrest. Our organization had planned a big opening day for our first community-based center in a village about an hour away, and while there I got a call saying “Do not come home!”
Coming over the ridge of a mountain, I saw our city transformed into a war zone with a small mob targeting Western-funded agencies. All our team’s women and children were in our office, but while bombs exploded, our Afghan colleagues protected them in the basement. They then covered them in burqas and took them to an employee’s home at great personal risk to that family. Multiple nights in villages—sometimes even possibly in Taliban homes—a young, large, heavily bearded male of the host family lay across the doorway with an AK47 on his chest.
After 12 years of marriage God had not given us children. It still brings tears of joy when we look at 4-year-old Daniel and 2-year-old Isaac, both conceived during our time there. Without hesitation our Afghan friends say, “We know God loves Afghanistan, and God blessed you with children while you were helping Afghanistan!”
We did not want Afghanistan, but oh how we needed Afghanistan. We did not want to fall into the hands of God with nothing to stop the fall, but oh how we needed to. We never dreamed of the joy, fulfillment and wholeness we found in Afghanistan, but God knows best. Following His commands, living by His values, looking through His eyes at topics such as life and death, war and peace, wealth and poverty, justice and mercy, really is best.