After the Taliban regained control over Afghanistan last month, many Afghan Christians have gone into hiding in order to avoid persecution and death from the Islamic regime.
Release International, an international organization which monitors and reports on Christians across the world, notes that there are less than 10,000 Christians in the country as many have fled into more remote areas to stay out of sight from the Taliban.
"We're hearing that Christians are trapped in Afghanistan, we don't know how many, it was a small church to begin with,” Andrew Boyd of Release International told Premier Christian News. “Quite a few have left while they could. But there are others who are trapped, they can't get out.”
While the Taliban have control over the airfields and the country’s borders, Boyd says that some Christians have dispersed from Afghanistan into nearby countries such as Pakistan and Iran.
"There is a lot of fear. But we understand that some of the Christians have left the largest cities and have gone into more rural areas,” he said. “Remember, Afghanistan is very mountainous country. So this is an underground church. It always was. They're used to that. But of course, this is a time of great uncertainty for them. They need our prayers, and they need our support."
Release International also expressed concern of “false reporting” being portrayed as persecution from the Taliban, such as images of a protest in Colombia and ISIS atrocities in Iran.
"Understandably, there is a great deal of fear and rumor," said Release International CEO, Paul Robinson. "This is why we talk to partners who are working directly with the underground church."
SAT-7 Pars, which broadcasts programs via satellite TV into Afghanistan, told Release International that some Afghan Christians are asking for prayers amid death threats.
"SAT-7 is hearing directly from its audience about what is happening in that country,” Robinson explains.
For instance, one caller sent in a prayer request saying, “"Oh Lord God, please protect us, because we are facing hell."
“My family and I came to Christ two years ago,” another caller said. “I and my family have received death threats. I have no other way but to escape from the country. Help us to be heard so we can flee from this hell."
According to Open Doors USA, Afghanistan is ranked number 2 of its list of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, just one spot after North Korea.
The watchdog explains that Afghan Christians face threats of persecution and death, especially after converting from Islam, because it’s considered apostasy.
Boyd told Premier that Afghan Christians continue to be resilient in their faith regardless of opposition.
"Many of them in the church have come from a Muslim background, have learned what it is to live as Christians in the book of Acts, underground and persecuted, they know how to do that,” he told the outlet.
He also noted that Release International has launched an appeal for persecuted Christians who are dying or fleeing for their faith.
“We're working with partners to provide support and encouragement and help for them. It's a dangerous business, but there are practical things that we can do to help Christians in Afghanistan."
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Natanael Ginting
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.