Afghanistan: How to pray after 1 year of Taliban rule

August 15, 2022 by Tim Dustin in Persecution updates

The images are hard to forget.

Traumatized civilians hanging on in desperation as cargo planes ramp up for take-off. The Taliban wielding American weapons in American vehicles. And maybe most somber of all, the raised white flag of terror, declaring a new government across an entire country.

It’s been a year since the Taliban took full control over Afghanistan. What has changed over the past 12 months, and what’s the status of the Afghan church?

Broken promises

Knowing the world was watching to see what Afghanistan would look like after the American pullout, Taliban leaders did all they could to quench fears and speculation. In fact, key promises were made that there would be opportunities for women, including continuing education. But it didn’t take long for the Taliban to renege on their pledges. In a report in The Hill, the United Nations declared: “the Taliban is breaking promises it made about its treatment of women and house-to-house searches nearly a month after the insurgent group toppled the Afghan government and seized power in the country.”

After they took power, Taliban leadership promised women’s rights would not be rolled back: “Yes, the women, they have a right to education and to work,” Taliban leader Suhalil Shaheen told NPR just days before the American forces withdrawal.

However, it took only three weeks for that hollow promise to shatter. The Taliban has since declared that no girl is allowed to pursue an education past sixth grade. This grave decision cripples and devalues Afghan women who have fought so hard for a small degree of independence and justice. Banning education means women can’t have or pursue professional careers. Instead, they’re forced to rely solely on their husbands or male family members for financial support and status.

An Open Doors frontline partner in the region explained it this way: “Girls going to school could be empowering for them, and the Taliban doesn’t want that. The Taliban wants to rob women of agency. Young girls just stay at home. There are no opportunities for them. And it will stay that way as long as the Taliban is in power.”

In a country ruled by fear, fanaticism and aggression, how can anyone who opposes such ideals flourish? In a place where radical Islam now reigns supreme, how can the Christian church survive?

Today Christians all over the world are pressured, arrested, attacked and killed for their faith.

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The treatment of Christians

Simply put, the situation for Christians in Afghanistan is beyond desperate. Afghan Christians risk death if they’re discovered; many have fled for their lives and the lives of their children. Believers who remain are considered traitors; enemies of the state, their tribe and their community. Punishment for being found out is death.

Afghanistan is No. 1 on Open Door’s 2022 World Watch List for a reason—it couldn’t be any more dangerous to be a Christian there. It’s nearly impossible to talk to the few Christians who remain in country, because of the critical risk it could mean to their lives. There are no churches, gatherings or worship services. Any Christian faith must remain behind closed doors. One slip-up could mean arrest, torture and worse.

While Afghanistan has never been safe for Christians, under Taliban rule the country has now become a hunting ground for Christians. The Taliban has gone to great lengths to flush out Christians and other religious minorities. Christians dare not go out in public to meet, shop or get medical treatment. They’ve been driven underground simply to survive.

“The Taliban are going door-to-door, snatching young girls and destroying families,” said one Christian mother who stayed behind in Afghanistan. “They are conducting a door-to-door search to find us [Christians]. We live in fear that the Taliban will come for us.”

Our Open Doors Communications Director for Asia had this to add: “When you get a house visit, the Taliban want to see if you are a good Muslim in their eyes, according to their standard of what makes a good Muslim. So, if you are a Christian, you’re not just a bad Muslim; you are an apostate—and you will be targeted. The Taliban are hunting down anyone who is not with them—that includes Christians.”


Does any hope remain?

In Matthew 17:20, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” A mustard seed is small enough to fit on the tip of one’s finger. Although the Taliban flag still waves high over Kabul, there remains hope for Afghanistan, and it lives in the Christians left behind.

It’s even taking incredible shape. What evil forces meant to squash, God has used to grow His kingdom in miraculous ways. For example, when the Taliban began initiating that women 12-years-of-age and younger were no longer allowed to attend school, Fazlia*, a teacher and a Christian, made a life-changing decision.

She fled the country but brought her nieces, nephews and seven of her students with her. Each day, she continues to teach her students Bible songs and stories.

One of our partners had a chance to meet with Sister Fazlia, and as broken as she was over her complete upheaval of life (she also left her fiancé), through tears, she pointed up to Heaven, declaring that’s where her help, healing and courage come from.

When asked about the children, Fazlia added, “I have always loved them very much. I wouldn’t trust anyone else to take care of them. I made the right choice.”

Although we don’t see the dramatic footage and crushing images on our screens—those we saw a year ago—Afghanistan remains a country in disarray, but as we might see it as a place of ashes, we must believe God is continually moving, shaping and creating beauty in the chaos.

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5 prayers to pray for our Afghan family 

We have an incredibly brave church family alive and well in Afghanistan, and they need our prayers. Even though there is no longer an American presence on the ground, our status with our brothers and sisters hasn’t changed. Truly, we remain as close to them as ever before. Here are five prayers we can pray for the Afghan church:

1) Pray for those who must live lives of secret faith, lives of fear, oppression and unbelievable persecution; let’s pray for their continued faith among the ruins, and a knowing that although they can’t share their beliefs publicly, their Church family around the globe has not forgotten them—and will never forget them.

2) Pray for the friends and families of our brothers and sisters. Let’s pray they will encourage instead of call out, lift up instead of put down and spread the gospel instead of trying to silence it.

3) Pray God will thwart and confuse the evil plans of extremist groups, like the Islamic State group and ISIS, as well as the Taliban. Pray for the safety of Christians and for strength to remain faithful in the midst of current and future persecution. And let’s pray boldly for Saul-to-Paul conversions of extremists. Ask God to give both visions and dreams to persecutors and reveal Himself—that they, like Paul, would see the power and love of Christ.

4) Pray for relief from the drought and COVID-19 that continue to ravage the country and make life increasingly difficult for Afghans. Ask God to provide aid and medicine—hidden manna—to those believers whose families and tribes refuse to help them because they have left Islam to follow Jesus.

5) Pray that God would strengthen the worldwide Church to pray with the secret church in Afghanistan. Ask God to continue to bring our Afghan family to our minds and hearts in the weeks, months and years ahead—that we will never forget them.

Father God, please hear our prayers for our Afghan family. Let them know they are remembered and cared for. And, most of all, let there be peace—Your unwavering, perfect peace, within our church family, their persecutors and across the entire country of Afghanistan. Amen.


*Name changed to protect identity

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