Former US soldier Brandon Stanton, known online as Mr. Holmes, returned to Afghanistan from several weeks of aid work as part of a joint U.S.-Afghan mission to rescue several Christians who were being persecuted by the Taliban.
Stanton and his team, who self-identify as “U.S. Christians,” were on foot and driving their vehicles when they spotted and rescued five people, including two children, who were being held captive in a cave, according to The Daily Beast.
The group began working together in 2010 with another group of Christians, but those relations began falling apart as the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.
In August 2016, another group of Christians, known as Christians Against the Taliban, including more than a dozen Christian-Americans, traveled to Afghanistan to work with the Taliban to protect the local population. After about a year of working with the Taliban, the Christian group ended their work and left Afghanistan. The Taliban kidnapped most of the local Christian residents.
Eventually, the Christians Against the Taliban found a much needed partner in Afghanistan. Among those they collaborated with was Jill Bennett with Safe Passage, an independent human rights group.
Stanton and Bennett were able to work together to rescue those held captive. They found a cave in the remote mountainous region, where five people were being held captive. The group dug a large tunnel, and after the soldiers had spent one month walking through the cave, they reached the site and removed the captives.
Stanton wrote about the ordeal on the blog of Fathom International, which he is affiliated with.
“This is the story of two individuals risking their lives to save other people’s lives,” Stanton wrote. “The two individuals involved in this rescue have very different ideas of God, the importance of Christ’s message, and the way God uses different people for different purposes. They aren’t using the same language about God when they’re alone, but when they’re together, they feel the same way: It’s because of God, and it’s because of Christ that they are able to act on their passions.”
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Stanton said he initially had been approached to head back to Afghanistan and to also help educate Afghan women. He later refused the job, saying he could not be a tool of the government. He said the conditions of the job didn’t allow for the change he wanted to see.