How Chaos Led to the Ultimate Opportunity

John Heerema | CEO of Biglife | Updated: Sep 05, 2023
How Chaos Led to the Ultimate Opportunity

How Chaos Led to the Ultimate Opportunity

Two years have passed since the United States’ harrowing withdrawal from Afghanistan. While the world witnessed the Taliban’s shocking insurgency against Kabul, The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as we once knew it, was no more.

In August 2021, many of us couldn’t comprehend what we saw on our TVs. Masses of men and women frantically swarmed Hamid Karzai Airport to escape the encroaching Taliban. Some, desperate to leave, clung onto the wings of C-17 aircrafts and fell from the sky as the planes left the tarmac. Others threw their own babies over razor wire fences to U.S. Marines for a chance at lives away from violent extremists. These scenes of Afghans, desperate to flee the Taliban, were symbolic of the uncertainty and fear that gripped the nation.

The fall of Kabul marked a pivotal moment in modern history, with far-reaching implications for the region and the world. It was during this upheaval that our organization, Biglife, catapulted into a role that we never expected. Since Biglife’s initial start in Afghanistan in 2010, our work has focused on reaching Afghans with the Gospel and training indigenous leaders to become 


Many vulnerable Afghan communities, including Afghan Christians, faced an uncertain and perilous future. The risks to these groups escalated overnight under the Taliban's new rule. Biglife began receiving details about Afghans who were under death threat by the Taliban. With a network of over 10,000 people on the ground, we knew that we were in a position to help in a massive way. Quickly, Biglife shifted its work to spreading the Gospel to Afghans while also providing humanitarian assistance and means for relocation away from the Taliban.

We established coalitions with organizations like Task Force Pineapple, a volunteer group of US veterans, to extract at-risk targets safely and swiftly. These individuals were evacuated to safer areas of Afghanistan or outside of the country and later, connected with refugee organizations such as The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for food, temporary housing, medical assistance, and immigration paperwork.

Chaos led to an opportunity that we could have never fathomed.

Routine global work for Biglife quickly transformed into a substantial operation that has helped thousands of Afghans flee from the Taliban’s hold. Over 55,000 men, women, and children who were under Taliban death threats because of their faith or ethnicity have successfully been evacuated by Biglife since August 30th, 2021. As a result, those who had never heard of Jesus before, have come to know Him, and His unconditional love. As more persecuted communities come to us, we expect to see the Lord continue to move His sovereign hand.

The call to this mission has not been without its cost. In the last week, the Taliban martyred 5 men who were a part of the Biglife network because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Regardless of the opposition members of Biglife face in Afghanistan, it has not hindered their spirit to share God’s word. Instead, it has empowered them to bring communities closer to Jesus, despite the dangers and challenges faced.

The chaos of the fall of Kabul has led to an unimaginable opportunity for Biglife not only to minister to the people in Afghanistan but also to rescue and put them in a place of hope. Two years later, as international headlines have grown silent on Afghanistan, we are committed to continue ministering to the physical and spiritual needs of the persecuted.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Christophe Cerisier

In 1999, John Heerema was a successful business owner. John and his wife Kathy enjoyed a leisurely lifestyle in the resort city of Naples, Florida. Sitting on the floor one evening with their young daughter and a son on the way, John and Kathy reflected on how they had built the “perfect life.” Shortly thereafter, John was blindsided by a question he had read in a book. The question that pierced John’s heart was this: Are you living a little life in your own little world, or are you willing to live a BIGLIFE, a life with a big impact for the Kingdom of God? John began to struggle with the realization that his perfect little life was perfectly shallow. After wrestling with God, John walked away from his business to join God, where He was already working. A ministry called Biglife was started. Biglife now serves in over 130 countries, reaching millions of people with the Gospel message in some of the darkest strongholds on earth. Through life-on-life discipleship, living a life with a big Kingdom impact is the core of everything we do and the heartbeat of who we are.

How Chaos Led to the Ultimate Opportunity