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God is Building His Church in Afghanistan

January 12, 2012 by Open Doors in General

afghani woman

We hear about Afghanistan in the news on a daily basis. But what is life like for Christians in the towns and villages there?

During the era of the Taliban rule the situation for those who decided to leave Islam was extremely difficult as they were considered to be traitors. All Christian activity had to be done secretly due to pressure from the community and the authorities. When the Taliban was ousted the new government brought in a measure of liberalization, especially in Kabul. However, the situation for Christians and other minorities, especially converts from Islam, remained extremely difficult.
Although the presence of foreign forces led to better security in some areas, helped create jobs and may have had had a positive influence on human rights in the country, the deposed Taliban still existed and was regaining strength. Even while “in hiding”, they continued intimidating the Afghan people living in rural areas with “night visits” and “night letters,” they abducted and attacked civil servants, police officers, teachers, or anyone who dared to think different. In October 2011 the Taliban issued a statement via one of their websites vowing to purge all Christians from the country – whether foreign or local. Accusing them of evangelizing Afghans, the Taliban has targeted foreign relief organizations and non-governmental organizations.
Today the strongest negative influence on believers is the social control exerted by the family network in an Afghan society dominated by the extended family. Due to the enormous pressure placed on Christian converts and the threat of death if they do not recant, most Afghan Christians only share their faith with a few trustworthy people. Sadly there is not even a single official church building for either native or expat believers in Afghanistan.

In the midst of circumstances that make one wonder how anyone in Afghanistan even hears about Christ, many Afghans are miraculously coming to faith in Jesus Christ. Some have come to Christ through divine revelations in dreams and visions. For others, Christian radio and television programs broadcast in the country are the vehicles through which the message finds its way into hearts that are hungry to know the truth. In places where the internet is available, those who seek are able to find answers to their questions on various websites. Last year, after the nationally televised exposure of Afghan Christians on the internet, it became widely known that Afghan Christians actually exist. Though many were angry about this revelation, others started to ask questions and began to seek.
In recent years a number of well-educated and skilled Afghanis have become believers and begun participating in underground Christian activities. Although the complete lack of religious freedom for Afghan Christians makes gatherings of believers dangerous and difficult, family and friend groups have started to meet together. There is a growing awareness among Afghan believers that they are not alone.
Great creativity is needed for finding new ways to bring the Gospel to the Afghan people and to strengthen His church in the country. In the last 30 years God has slowly but steadily built His church in Afghanistan. It is still small and fragile, but growing. Unable to own Bibles, believers do not have the opportunity to study the Word except by listening to the radio or watching satellite TV. Despite limited availability, the Internet has also become a valuable tool for Afghan believers in learning and growing in their faith.

Some Afghani Christians have begun to share the Gospel with both boldness and wisdom, and as others see their changed lives and high moral standards, they are being drawn toward Jesus. Also, in this age of information many of the Afghani people are aware of what is happening in the rest of the world -ultimately leading them to ask questions.

Father, we lift up to Your presence the plight of Christians in Afghanistan. Thank You for bringing the Good News of Your Gospel to them, even in their isolation. We pray against the obstacles they face daily – persecution from community, lack of access to Scripture, pressure to recant their faith. Protect them, body and soul, bring trustworthy believers into their lives, teach them about Yourself through circumstances, give them access to Your Word. From this small group of believers, we pray for a revival to wash over the country and redeem the culture to worship You. In the name of Christ our redeemer, and theirs, Amen.

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