Date: August 17, 2022
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 658
AFGHANISTAN: TALIBAN TERROR VERSUS THE REDEEMER
plus Pakistan: Christian colony attacked near Quetta.
By Elizabeth Kendal
Twelve months have passed since the Taliban seized power in Kabul. In Kabul, as in every provincial capital, the Afghan military simply collapsed. Opting not to fight, the Afghan Army surrendered Bagram airbase to the Taliban, complete with some 700 trucks, more than 300 Humvees, dozens of armoured vehicles, artillery systems and a maximum-security prison. The Taliban released roughly 5000 prisoners, of whom at least 2300 were known battle-hardened Islamic militants affiliated with the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)), al-Qaeda, and Islamic State. At that time, Afghanistan’s underground Church was estimated to comprise around 10,000 converts from Islam (up from zero in 1950). [See Religious Liberty Monitoring (April 2022): Islam, the Taliban and the Underground Church, and Afghanistan, the Afghan Church, and J. Christy Wilson Jr..]
Fearing persecution and even execution, thousands of vulnerable Afghan Christians fled and were evacuated by Christian aid groups that support the persecuted Church. Of course, thousands of Afghan Christians stayed: some because they were unable to flee; others – including hundreds of Afghan pastors – chose to remain despite the risk, to be light and salt, bearers of grace and truth, amidst a desperately needy people.
A few weeks after the fall of Kabul, Voice of America (VOA) spoke to Taliban spokesman Inamullah Samangani. Responding to VOA’s concerns over the plight Afghan Christians, Samangani said: ‘There are no Christians in Afghanistan. A Christian minority has never been known or registered here.’ Well, the Taliban can live in denial all they like. The Afghan Church not only exists but remains and continues to grow! In October 2021, just two months after the Taliban take-over, an Afghan church leader told Global Catalytic Ministries: ‘Today I went to visit some families. In one home, half of them are believers and half of them are not. It has been very special, when they see me they are so happy and grateful that I have not left them. I know this is the light of Jesus they are responding to. That is what I hear the most when I go visit people, that my presence gives them hope, and I know that is from the light of God. God works supernatural miracles, signs, and wonders in this part of the world often, but what I am seeing now is more of a natural kind of miracle where He is touching the hearts of people. From what I am seeing in the streets I do think things are getting worse, but it is a very special time and I think the church here will explode in growth.’
The prospect for Church growth is especially real amongst Afghanistan’s persecuted ethno-religious minorities, such as the Dari/Farsi (Persian)-speaking Shi’ite Hazara and the non-Pashtun (e.g. Tajik, Uzbek, Turkmen, etc) Muslims of the north. Of all Afghanistan’s peoples, the Hazara are known to be the most open to the Gospel. Heart4Iran reports (MNN 14 Aug) that when the Taliban conquered Afghanistan one year ago, its call centre was flooded with calls from Afghanistan. ‘They were hopeless, traumatised, and afraid for their lives,’ explains Mike Ansari. ‘All of the callers needed trauma counselling. So we hired Afghan Christians, trained them on trauma counselling, and set up a vast call centre focusing on processing contacts from Afghanistan. They talk to those inside of Afghanistan, and to Afghan refugees fleeing to other countries.’ Ansari says most callers wanted to know about Jesus. ‘We just told them that God loves them and has not forsaken them. We assured them that God had a wonderful plan for them.’ Afghans tell Heart4Iran that God has forgotten them. But Heart4Iran and Biblica are teaming up to prove it’s not true. Working together, they’re finding ways to smuggle Dari (Afghan Persian) New Testaments to Christians inside Afghanistan. They request prayer for this ministry: specifically for wisdom, creativity and protection.
PLEASE PRAY FOR OUR MERCIFUL GOD TO:
- 'hide' Afghanistan’s gravely imperilled but infinitely precious underground Church under the shadow of his wings (Psalm 17:8-9). May the ever-present Holy Spirit grace all Afghanistan’s pastors with wisdom and discernment as they navigate risk: may our Heavenly Father protect them as they feed Christ’s sheep, care for the ‘harassed and helpless’ (from Matthew 9:35-38) and witness as the Spirit leads. May those who would harm them, simply not see them.
‘Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me’ (Psalm 17:8-9 ESV).
- supply every need of every Christian mission or ministry group that works to bring light and life, grace and truth, to Afghans – be they Sunni Pashtuns, Tajiks, Turkman or Uzbeks, or Persian-speaking Shi’ite Hazaras; urban elites, impoverished villagers, or refugees throughout the Diaspora. May Jehovah jireh supply every need, may the Good Shepherd find and rescue the lost and may the Holy Spirit bring light and life to multitudes.
Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation (Psalm 68:19 ESV).
* redeem all Taliban terror and use it / turn it for his good purpose: that is, for salvation! May Afghans suffering hardship and fear find Christ (Isaiah 65:1) and ‘take refuge’ in Him (Psalm 91:4).
I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that was not called by my name (Isaiah 65:1 ESV).