It is almost 18 months since Taliban fighters swept into Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, and took back control of the country. So much has changed for the worse for Afghan Christians in that time – but they have not lost their hope, thanks to your continued prayers. Hana*, an Open Doors partner in the Gulf region, and other Afghan believers share what life is like under the Taliban regime, and how the church continues to stand strong.
During the takeover, the Taliban were going door-to-door with a list of Christians. “The door-to-door action involved groups of soldiers launching violent attacks on those on the list, and their families,” says Hana*, an Open Doors partner in the Gulf region. “Many have been killed as an example of retribution for years of being out of power. Others have fled the violence and live in hiding. Christians who worked with the former regime and the West are under particular pressure. There is no sign of any forgiveness.”
“If I would be in Afghanistan now, I would not be alive today, for sure,” says Nilufar*, an Afghan refugee. “They already killed lots of people.”
Christians who have not been able to flee must keep changing their location to avoid detection. “There is a great deal of fear among the followers of Jesus; many have had to migrate to other parts of the country,” Hana shares.
Afghanistan has dropped from number one to number nine on the Open Doors World Watch List, but Christians remain in grave danger and many have been forced further underground, making them less visible for attack. In the past year, the Taliban has turned their attention to consolidating power and have not been explicitly targeting non-Muslims – so there have been fewer violent incidents against Christians that can be clearly linked to their faith. In this complex situation, persecution is affecting almost everyone in many different ways.
However, since leaving Islam is considered punishable by death under the prevailing Islamic law, choosing to follow Jesus remains an extraordinarily brave decision to make, because it can have devastating consequences – be it at the hands of the authorities, or even a believer’s family, tribe or clan in an attempt to preserve its ‘honour’.
Education for women and girls has come to a complete halt. One refugee Afghan believer shared that her parents – who still live in the country – describe Afghanistan as a ‘prison’ for women. “This is the return to the ways of an extremist branch of Islam that sees women as the ‘property’ of men who have one purpose: to produce more soldiers,” explains Hana. “Therefore, for some it is a prison; others have been forced into marriage with Taliban fighters.”
“The levels of fear rising in the community in Afghanistan ensures compliance, as anyone who disagrees with the regime are tracked and killed later. The numbers of female activists killed in Afghanistan continues – now as state-sanctioned and approved actions.”
But – praise God! – the church continues to shine a light amid all this darkness and fear. “Christians stay because they are called to Afghanistan by Jesus, and they are obedient to His call,” Hana says.
With your continued prayers and support, our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan are being anchored in God’s hope. Hanna explains, “Even though there are only a handful of believers, He has been faithful to them. He continues to answer their prayers, give them the strength to endure suffering and call them to Him at the time of His choosing. God continues to open doors for those searching for Him.”
“I feel like Jesus is always here,” says Nargis*, an Afghan refugee living in a neighbouring country. “When I pray, I feel that He is sitting next to me and listening to me. Even though I have so many problems, I see His grace and His mercy in my life. And I still haven’t lost my hope.”
Afghan believers and Open Doors fieldworkers are asking you to keep praying. Abdulla shows astonishing forgiveness – he also asks that you pray for the Taliban: “Of course, the Taliban are our enemies, but I ask you to pray for their salvation.”
For people to meet with Christ in dreams and visions, and that Christ may direct them to a place of nurture and discipleship
For Open Doors fieldworkers who continues to risk their lives to keep strengthening the Afghan church.
For access to education and medical aid, particularly in rural areas
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