Our team is dedicated to the mission of the local church, and we grieve with the people of Afghanistan. As a technology provider partnering with more than 15,000 churches in 88 countries, we imagine the impact if only a fraction of those churches dedicated time and resources to uphold the cause of the oppressed (Psalm 82:3). We hope the practical steps and prayer suggestions outlined in this article equip you and your community to take action for the persecuted church in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan and its local churches are in crisis. With the Taliban in control after the government’s collapse, many worry for their safety—especially women, children, and minorities. Among those being targeted by the Taliban are Christians in Afghanistan, who are experiencing a shocking wave of persecution for their faith.
One Afghan Christian convert described the dire situation this way: “They will kill the known Christians and want to spread fear. There are already posters appearing that if you have single girls, 15 years old, you have to marry them to Taliban soldiers… The parents may or may not be killed.”
Religious liberty is a God-given right for all people everywhere. God himself opposes the proud (1 Peter 5:5) and thwarts the way of the wicked. So how do we begin to understand what’s happening in Afghanistan—and what can we do about it?
Religious persecution in Afghanistan is nothing new. Fresh on the minds of many are the public executions of Christians and other religious groups during the Taliban’s previous rule in the 1990s. During that time, the massacre of Hindus and Sikhs brought their numbers from over 220,000 people down to only 200.
Converting to Christianity and other religions, or even sharing your faith, is a crime punishable by death, amputation, or forfeiting property. This explains why the exact number of Christians in Afghanistan is unknown, but estimates range from as low as 1,000 up to 20,000.
The events that have taken place since August 15, 2021 forced many believers to go into hiding or flee the country. Underground Afghan church leaders have received letters with death threats. Taliban officials are conducting door-to-door searches, interrogating people to turn in Christian neighbors, and checking cell phones for Bible apps. Along with Christians, women are also experiencing extreme violence, sexual assault, and loss of basic freedoms.
Despite decades of persecution against Christians in Afghanistan, the gospel is on the move. According to the researchers at Operation World, the Afghan Christian church is the second-fastest growing church in the world in 2021! This is in large part due to Iranian Christian missionaries in Afghanistan who have shared the love of Christ out of personal experiences as former Muslims.
The Taliban takeover threatens to slow the spread of the gospel, but there’s still hope to reach the lost and continue the good work that’s already begun.
For those living in the U.S. or other countries whose governments uphold religious liberty, it’s impossible to imagine what Christians in Afghanistan are experiencing. The situation can feel hopeless, but the reality is that—no matter where you live—there are concrete ways to help. The first is to pray.
In Romans 12:9, we are instructed, Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Here are six simple ways you can pray for Afghanistan. Practically, you can use these points as a roadmap to pray through as a congregation during your weekend services, in small groups throughout the week, during elder or staff meetings, or during personal devotional time.
Numerous ministries, nonprofits, and NGOs are acting boldly to help Afghans survive the current instability. Here are some practical ways to support their work and provide both spiritual and material aid to those suffering in Afghanistan.
Your donations to the following nonprofits will supply much-needed funds for food, water, sanitation, and frontline workers in Afghanistan.
Global Catalytic Ministries (GCM)
“GCM exists to transform Muslims worldwide through Jesus Christ by means of disciple-making, church-planting, and leadership development.”
“World Relief is a global Christian humanitarian organization that brings sustainable solutions to the world’s greatest problems—disasters, extreme poverty, violence, oppression, and mass displacement. We partner with local churches and community leaders in the U.S. and abroad to bring hope, healing and transformation to the most vulnerable.”
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS)
“For over 80 years, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service has been a champion for refugees and migrants from around the globe. Our legacy of compassionate service has made a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who have found safety and hope in America’s communities.”
International Rescue Committee
“The International Rescue Committee helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover and regain control of their future. We have been working in Afghanistan for more than 30 years and remain dedicated to supporting people caught in this dire crisis.” The Nazarene Fund “To liberate the captive, to free the enslaved, and to rescue, rebuild and restore the lives of Christians and other persecuted religious and ethnic minorities wherever and whenever they are in need.”
“We provide training, granting and technical assistance to churches and communities working to overcome poverty and injustice. We do this to catalyze church and community transformation. To enable lasting transformation, we advocate for policies and practices that promote flourishing. And we meet urgent needs from climate disasters and violent conflict.”
“World Help is a Christian humanitarian organization serving the physical and spiritual needs of people in impoverished communities around the world.”
The Bible clearly teaches us to welcome foreigners and support refugees. In Matthew 25:35, Jesus said “I was a stranger and you invited me in.” Genesis 18 tells of how Abraham invited travelers to his tent, fed them, and only later learned those strangers were angels. God commands us in Leviticus 19:13 to love immigrants and treat them as fellow citizens: “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”
Christian organizations like Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), World Relief, Church World Service (CWS), and Episcopal Migration Ministries are providing real help to Afghan refugees and others fleeing persecution. LIRS, for example, supports Afghan refugees with furniture, stocked pantries of familiar foods, and basic necessities that most of us enjoy every day. Many of these organizations are also actively soliciting visas and advocating support for the Afghan refugees with the Biden administration.
Along with volunteering and financially supporting these groups, check out 5 ways your church can welcome refugees from Amnesty International.
History has taught us that persecution grows the Church. When the Church is under attack, believers unify in prayer and are reminded of how much we depend on God to sustain us.
We serve a God of justice who told Moses, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.” (Exodus 34:6b–7)
At Subsplash it’s our strong conviction that religious freedom is a God-given human right. Please join us in faithfully praying for the Christians in Afghanistan and their neighbors who are suffering at this time.