How many Christians are there in Afghanistan?
It’s very hard to know precisely how many Christians there are in Afghanistan, because they must keep their faith completely secret – but only a small number from a population of over 38 million.
What does persecution look like in Afghanistan?
It is impossible to live openly as a Christian in Afghanistan. Leaving Islam is considered shameful, and Christian converts face dire consequences if their new faith is discovered. They either have to flee the country or they will be killed.This was true before the Taliban takeover: the situation has become even more dangerous for believers this year. The Taliban will make sure that Islamic rules and customs are implemented and kept. Christian converts don't have an option but to obey them.
If a Christian's new faith is discovered, their family, clan or tribe must save its honor by disowning the believer, or even killing them. This is widely considered to be justice. Alternatively, since leaving Islam is considered a sign of insanity, a Christian who has converted from Islam may be forcibly sectioned in a psychiatric hospital.
Christians face extreme persecution wherever they are in Afghanistan. Control and supervision are stricter in rural areas than in most cities, but Afghans are expected to be loyal to clan, family and Islam across the country.
Sharifullah is a traditional craftsman in Afghanistan. He is also a secret believer, devoting his life to shepherding the people God has entrusted into his care. Pseudonym used.
“The Taliban are killing our souls and spirits. They are killing the souls of our children by taking all that is beautiful away from them. We will never let our hope be silenced. We will make sure the world hears the Gospel through every breath we take. Please continue to stand with us.”Sharifullah
The situation in Afghanistan made headlines around the world last year, as the Taliban advanced across the country and captured the capital, Kabul, on Aug. 15, 2021. Many Afghans fled the country, and there was wide expectation that freedoms would be swiftly curtailed. For Christians, though, there were basically no freedoms to lose: Afghanistan had been No. 2 on the Open Doors World Watch List for several years, and Christian persecution remains extreme in all spheres of public and private life. The risk of discovery has increased since the Taliban controls every aspect of government. This extends to owning documentation, including paperwork from international troops, that may help identify Christians.
How can you pray for Afghanistan?
- Pray for secret believers in Afghanistan, that they will be protected from the violence of the Taliban.
- Pray that Taliban leaders will uphold and preserve human life, and that God would turn their hearts from hate to love.
- Pray for Open Doors partners supporting Afghan refugees to be filled with grace and love.
Dear Lord, we know that You weep when You see Your children weeping. We know that You care more than we can express for the nation of Afghanistan. Please, Lord, work miracles in this country. Protect Your children and all others who face terrible human rights abuses in Afghanistan. May this nation turn from one of despair and cruelty to one that resounds with the praises of Your name. Amen.