Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Experiences in Afghanistan

In my previous post, we covered Dr. Andrew Stenhouse's Experiences with the Lord in England. Now in this segment, we'll cover his experiences with the Lord in Afghanistan.


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Len: Welcome to A Willing Heart to Please The Father. This is Len Lacroix, and I'm here tonight with Dr Andrew Stenhouse, my guest, and we're continuing the story of his life, picking it up tonight with his experience in Afghanistan. So, welcome, Andrew, to the program.

Dr. Stenhouse: Thank you, Len. It's lovely to be with you again and give you some more interesting things that happened during my life and under the direction of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Len: Yes. Let's pick it up with the beginning, where you were on assignment to open a medical school there in Afghanistan near the Pakistani border.

Dr. Stenhouse: Well, the way it happened was that I was away from church one day, when they had a visitor from California come in. And this doctor said how they had been looking for an internist to come and take up [the position] as professor of medicine at the new medical school in Afghanistan, bordering near the Pakistani border, because there was not one in that area.

So anyway, when I heard this—and the gentleman himself said that I came to his mind, that I would be just perfect for this. And so, anyway, I visited with the leader of the group, and they felt that this was an answer to their prayer. And so that was how I got introduced to the whole idea and decision from the Lord to go there.

Len: Ok, so this was a church’s venture, correct?

Dr. Stenhouse: Well, it originated in the church, yes.

Len: Yeah, ok. So, then you end up finding yourself in Afghanistan, someplace near the border of Pakistan, and you're there to open up a medical school, right?

Dr. Stenhouse: Yes, that's right. If I could just say, on the way over there I was in the plane, and we were about to land in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, when they made an announcement that everybody that was visiting would have to pay a fee of $500.

Len: Wow!

Dr. Stenhouse: So I said to the Lord, “Father,” I said, “I don't have $500.”

And He said, “Don’t worry; no worry.” 

So, when he came to me to get the $500, he said, “Oh, Dr. Stenhouse, are you coming to help our people?”

And I said, “Yes, sir.”

And he says, “Well, there will be no charge for you.”

Len: Wow, praise God!

Dr. Stenhouse: I was on the plane, and I was the only one that did not have to pay the $500.

Len: That is amazing! Praise God! So, you made it there; you opened up the school and began the training; and you had some interesting experiences with that--conducting the training in the school. And when you were in the classroom, tell me about what that was like and who you had in the classroom with you to make sure you stayed in line.

Dr. Stenhouse: Yes. Well, it was interesting because each morning I would get up early, and--because I had to sort of keep control of the class, which had many different groups in it from Pakistan, from Afghanistan, and also from Iran, I had to keep control of the class which had over a hundred people in it. And so every morning I would get up and outline my teaching, because I wouldn't be using any notes or anything—I had to memorize it. So I memorized the three or four hours of teaching every morning, during the week. And so that was the beginning of each day.

It was interesting because I had to make a decision on who would translate and to what language, and it would depend on the mood that was present in the classroom when I went in there. So, this was a decision I had to make. 

And then, every day that I was teaching, a mullah, which is a Muslim religious leader, would come and sit in the back of the classroom and make sure that I didn't mention anything about my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And he had a sword that he took out of his sheath and was holding in front of him all the time I was teaching.

Len: Ok.

Dr. Stenhouse: Just to remind me.

Len: Yeah, just as a reminder. Ok, so that was very interesting. And then, at some point, there was an exam that you gave to the students; and, tell me about that and what ended up happening with their scores.

Dr. Stenhouse: Well, what happened was that all students had to pass; they had this unwritten rule that nobody, especially a Christian, could fail—[nor] was any student. But what they had done was, on the first two exams, there were two or three people that had failed both of the exams—one that I gave and one that another teacher gave, who came over with the group. And so, they were basically the same students. And so, they boycotted my second exam, which was in dermatology. And I had taken quite a bit of time with them, because the skin is the largest organ in the body and also gets approximately more illnesses than any other [organ]. 

So, anyway, they made it known that I was not to fail anybody for this. So they were boycotting the exam, so they could not be failing in more than one exam. 

Len: So they were trying to manipulate you into passing everyone?

Dr. Stenhouse: Yes, absolutely. And so I just decided I would just make it easy for everybody and fail everybody because they had just boycotted my exam. And this led to all sorts of problems, as you can imagine.

Len: Oh, yeah! They probably didn't accept that too well.

Dr. Stenhouse: No, that didn't go over real big. And what happened was that this was heard in Kabul by the cousin to the king, who was also a doctor and who, as president of the Kabul’s School of Medicine, failed some students. 

And there was rioting in the streets of Kabul, and the king of Afghanistan did not want any rioting at that time in his city. And so he made it clear that I was not to be involved in this, and if [I was], then I would need to be removed from the country.

Len: But before that happened, wasn’t there an incident that happened in your apartment, or did that come after his edict?

Dr. Stenhouse: And so the cousin of the king heard about it and asked me over for a cup of tea—which I went and had a cup of tea with him—, and he told me about his experience of being in trouble for failing students also. And so he got demoted from the university, to be in charge of the Department of Infectious Disease for the country.

Len: I see. So tell me about what happened in your apartment when God protected you there from harm.

Dr. Stenhouse: Oh, yes. Well, I was given a guard each night in front of my door. And this night, about the same time I went home, there was no guard there. And so I thought, Uh, oh! Something’s on the horizon. 

Len: Yeah.

Dr. Stenhouse: So, I locked all of my three doors to the outside, and then I heard three students breaking in—they broke down two doors—, and then they were coming into my bedroom. And so, when they got to my bedroom door, I looked outside and it was snowing in Kabul, and so it wasn’t really a good idea to try and go out the window. 

Len: Right.

Dr. Stenhouse: And so, anyway, I said, “Okay, Father.” And so, anyway, immediately, when they got to my door, they started yelling and screaming and took off running. And I'm sure my angel from heaven had appeared and taken them away.

Len: Definitely, because if they had made it through two locked doors, it would have been even easier to get through a bedroom door.

Dr. Stenhouse: That's right. So, the next day I went and was walking to the bank through the streets of Kabul, just to wind up my banking stuff, because it was clear that I was no more needed in Afghanistan. And so, anyway, as I was going toward the bank, there was a group of my students there—about ten in front of me, and about ten behind me—and they had hired a pickpocket to see if he could take money out of my pocket. But there was none in it—I never used a pocketbook in the back of my pants. 

So, anyway, he did his best to get it, but he didn’t succeed. And then, I got so angry about it in my spirit, I tried to pick up the pickpocket—and he'd been hired for this purpose—, and I actually threw him about thirty feet—well, I couldn't have thrown him, in my own strength, one foot. 

So, anyway, it was [that] my angel [had] appeared again. And when they saw where this guy fell and went away—he was actually caught by one of the last students in the group—outside, at the end of the group—and into the arms of this guy.

And the pickpocket opened his hands and smiled at me, showing me he didn't have anything. And so, that was the end of that. They just dispersed when they saw that nothing had happened.

Len: Wow! Well, again, I think that was supernatural protection, because—

Dr. Stenhouse: Yes.

Len:—that probably wasn’t your strength throwing him for that distance—you said it was quite a number of feet, right?

Dr. Stenhouse: Oh, nearly thirty feet.

Len: Right. So, that's impossible for a human to do that. So, your angel was, once again, stepping in.

Dr. Stenhouse: Yes. So I don't think any of them wanted to hassle with my angel.

Len: So did any of them have any weapons?

Dr. Stenhouse: Yes they all had their knives drawn or their hands on the knives. And so it was a tense moment in a sense, but I didn't notice it as such, because I was very conscious of my angel being there and taking care of the person who tried to pick my pocket. When they saw what had happened, they gradually put up their knives and withdrew from the situation.

Len: Praise the Lord! God is awesome! He really protected you. And it really shows how dangerous a situation it was, but the Lord was with you and protected you.

Dr. Stenhouse: Absolutely! He was absolutely there all the time, every time. How great is our God!

Len: Amen.

Dr. Stenhouse: So, anyway, then I went to the U.S Embassy, in the Kabul, and settled in there for about a week till they flew me out one morning. And so that was my time in Afghanistan, briefly. But there were a lot of other interesting things, as you can imagine, happening along the way.

Len: Oh, yeah! So you had to live in the U.S. Embassy for that final week that you were there, for your protection.

Dr. Stenhouse: Yes.

Len: And, altogether, you were there for about a year?

Dr. Stenhouse: Yes, about a year, in all.

Len: Ok. And that was back in the mid ‘60s, right?

Dr. Stenhouse: Yes.

Len: Now, didn't you also have another assignment that was simultaneous with your work at the—where you were establishing the hospital in the South—that you were doing up in the north at another hospital, Andrew? 

Dr. Stenhouse: Yes, this is absolutely correct. And, what we were doing was I would go up periodically—about once a month. A pilot from the Missionary Aviation [Fellowship] would take me up in his little plane, and that was quite a bit hair-raising at times because of the fact that we would have to--

Len: Strafe the runway?

Dr. Stenhouse:—go over the landing strip and clear off the animals. And then we would go around and land on the landing strip. And we would stop by going up the hill at the side—on the right side. 

So, it was very interesting. And the reason we did that was the hospital itself was a mission-related hospital that required some expertise periodically. And we would take care of the patients at the time.

The other thing that we used that hospital for was we would get students over from the University of Indiana to come over and work with five of our best students from our hospital down near Jalalabad. And this turned out to be very profitable for both groups of students, whether they were from Indianapolis, or whether they were from Jalalabad.

Len: Interesting.

Dr. Stenhouse: So this was the interesting thing—the return to the Kabul when the plane was quite exciting, too. We would have to run down the hill and off the end of the cliff. And we would drop about a thousand feet before we'd get enough horsepower to get the plane up in the air properly.

Len: Wow!

Dr. Stenhouse: And then we would fly down to Kabul and land and then go back to our regular routine. 

Len: Yeah, very good. 

Len: Now, did you have to learn any language when you were there at all, or—you said you just used a translator most of the time.

Dr. Stenhouse: Yes, I used a translator most of the time. What I would do, Len, is I'd put an outline of the lecture that I was giving that particular time on the board, and I’d write it in English. And there were two or three students there that were excellent students, and they would translate what I was saying in that particular language. And it would be Farsi, or it would be Hindi, or it would be Pakhto [aka Pashto]—you know, there were a variety of languages, but I could tell, and I would always use those language translators because they were so reliable.

Len: Yeah, very interesting. And, you know, I just want to—as we begin to wrap this up—I want to just tie this back in with the fact that you had mentioned in our last segment that, when you were in London, you sensed that you would be a missionary once again, and that was when you began to have the thought of going to Afghanistan—correct?—and so this was the fulfillment of that.

Dr. Stenhouse: Yes, that's right. I felt in my spirit that I hadn’t finished what the Lord had called me to do. And that makes sense.

Len: Yeah, it makes sense; and that's a very interesting testimony about your Afghanistan experience. So, thanks for sharing that, Andrew, and we're going to wrap this up and conclude this session on that note. So, thank you, and I look forward to our next discussion together.

Dr. Stenhouse: Yes, and I thank you so much, and I have nothing but love for the people over there, because, you know, they saw a light appear, and they did not like the light.

Len: Yes. Amen. Well, thank you, Andrew, and have a good night. 

Dr. Stenhouse: Thank you, Len. Good night.

Author's note: The next chapter in this series is Divine Healing in US Private Practice. See the Home page of this blog for more podcasts on the life of Dr. Stenhouse. You may access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master. Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"


Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. 

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