A prominent faith-based organization is urging Christians to pray for Afghan believers, who face an uncertain future and possible persecution in the face of the Taliban's takeover of the country.
The Taliban – a repressive Islamic regime – took over the Afghanistan capital of Kabul on Sunday as the United States military continued its withdrawal from Afghanistan. President Biden had ordered all troops pulled from the country by September.
It is unknown how many Christians live in Afghanistan, although some estimates put the number between 10,000 and 12,000, according to International Christian Concern, which monitors persecution around the world. Most of them are converts from Islam – a fact that makes them targets for persecution by the Taliban. Under Taliban ideology, the punishment for conversion to Christianity is death.
"We encourage you to pray that [Christians] would not be overcome by fear," ICC said.
World Magazine's Mindy Belz reported that house church network leaders in Afghanistan "received letters" from the Taliban "warning them that they know where they are and what they are doing."
Similarly, ICC spoke to a Christian in Afghanistan who said he knew of a Christian friend who had received a letter from the Taliban saying they would take his house.
The Christian told ICC that believers understand the dangers of practicing their faith.
"Every Muslim-background believer like myself that convert[ed] to Christianity, he knows the consequences of their conversion. Islam is very clear, Quran is very clear, Hadith is very clear for the apostasy," the Christian told ICC. "… They give three days after that [and] if they don't repent … there is no mercy on those people."
Christians often "must flee Afghanistan or risk being killed," ICC reported.
Even before the United States announced its withdrawal, Afghanistan was a dangerous place for Christians, with Open Doors ranking it No. 2 on its World Watch List ranking of nations where believers face the most persecution. When the list was released, the Taliban controlled only certain parts of the country. Now, though, the Taliban controls the entire nation.
"Please pray for the Christians in Afghanistan who have been obeying Christ' [s] Great Commission out of love for the lost people in Afghanistan," Bryant Wright, president of SEND Relief of the Southern Baptist Convention, tweeted. "It doesn't sound like our gov't has remembered them. Let's at least pray for their strength and courage as they give their lives for Jesus!"
Please pray for the Christians in Afghanistan who have been obeying Christ’Great Commission out of love for the lost people in Afghanistan. It doesn’t sound like our gov’t has remembered them. Let’s at least pray for their strength and courage as they give their lives for Jesus! https://t.co/bXNYKnyYfh— Bryant Wright (@bryantwright) August 15, 2021
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Paula Bronstein/Stringer, Afghans lining up to have their passport information completed amid Taliban takeover
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.