It is difficult to ignore the tragedy currently unfolding in Afghanistan. Following President Biden’s decision to fully withdraw U.S. troops, Taliban fighters have taken over the capital, causing the president to flee. Civilians not wanting to live under Taliban rule rushed to the airport in Kabul, desperate to make it onto one of the last planes leaving the country.
It’s a disastrous end to the U.S. military’s 20 years in Afghanistan. And for Christians in that country, the situation has gone from bad to worse.
Most Afghan Christians are converts from a Muslim background. Culturally, it remains very shameful to leave the Muslim faith. Family and community members are harsh toward Christian converts, making it dangerous to follow Jesus. Christians in Taliban-controlled regions face added pressure to remain entirely unnoticed.
Thus, persecution has pushed the estimated few thousand Afghan Christians to worship in secret. The U.S. State Department has reported that no church buildings remain in Afghanistan.
Earlier this month, a house church leader from Afghanistan told International Christian Concern (ICC) that Christians would likely try to flee rather than live under Taliban rule. The Taliban has been known to take the names of everyone who attends mosque and who attends daily prayers. Strict adherence to Islamic practices, such as growing a beard, is compulsory. This leaves Christians highly vulnerable. For those who are discovered, the consequences are dire. Even before the Taliban has taken over certain areas, militants sent death threats to families they knew to be Christian.
The Afghan Christian told ICC that the terrorists intend to spread fear among Christians. Even for Christians who are not killed, “definitely they will lose their children, definitely the girls will be forced to marry Taliban soldiers.” The future surely looks bleak for Christian parents in Afghanistan faced with life under Taliban rule.
WORLD Magazine reporter Mindy Belz stated on Twitter that she was in touch with a contact who works with house churches in Afghanistan. They reported that house church leaders “received letters last night from the Taliban warning them that they know where they are and what they are doing. The leaders say they aren’t going anywhere.” Christians will face increased pressure under Taliban rule, as will all people in Afghanistan.
Under the Taliban, religious freedom—among many other freedoms—is nonexistent.
Many Afghan women particularly dread the Taliban and the strict Sharia law it enforces. When the Taliban previously had control of Afghanistan, girls were not allowed to be educated. Women needed a male guardian to leave the home. And women were prevented from working outside of the home.
Now that the Taliban is taking over so quickly, things are changing almost overnight for the people of Afghanistan.
One woman from Kabul anonymously wrote in The Guardian last week, “I did not expect that we would be deprived of all our basic rights again and travel back to 20 years ago. That after 20 years of fighting for our rights and freedom, we should be hunting for burqas and hiding our identity.” The Taliban’s rise to power is a major step backward for Afghanistan, one that will have countless consequences.
David Curry, CEO of Open Doors USA, said, “The best way to help is to pray urgently for the protection of Christians and other religious minorities in Afghanistan. They need a miracle.”
As times become even more trying for the Afghan people, please keep them in your prayers. Pray for the preservation of human life, protection for Christians, safety for women and girls, wisdom for world leaders to respond to the crisis, and hope for the people of Afghanistan.