Saving Faith: The Gospel Amid the Afghanistan Crisis
10/18/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – The world watched in horror as Afghanistan succumbed to Taliban control this past August. Of special interest at International Christian Concern (ICC) was the well-being of Afghan Christians under the new regime. Various leaders in the new government have remarked that they will show no mercy toward Christians, with some even highlighting a possible return to stadium-style executions. The new situation is deeply unsafe for Christians, and, unsurprisingly, many Afghan Christians have fled to neighboring countries in the hopes of securing a better future.
Thanks to the generous support of donors, ICC has been able to work directly on the ground with Afghan Christian refugees who have fled to Country X (unnamed for security reasons), assisting them with resettlement. Country X is a Muslim country that is one of the top persecutor countries for Christians in the Middle East. As such, Afghan Christians are travelling from one danger to another as they flee the Taliban into this nation.
Nonetheless, Country X remains an apt choice for resettlement, as it has displayed an openness toward refugees, and has been negotiating with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) regarding how to handle the influx of refugees. It has been estimated that a minimum of 500—though likely double—Afghans have been crossing into Country X daily. In response, the country has been working on readjusting its refugee population to absorb new arrivals.
ICC has been working with a fellowship network in the greater region of Country X which has the largest (albeit still small) ministry serving Afghans. This ministry includes 40 Afghan Christians, in addition to a number of Afghan seekers. The ministry expects to grow with the new influx of Afghan refugees, but ICC projects unfortunately that this growth will be accompanied by increased persecution, since the authorities actively target Christians who conduct outreach-related work. Nonetheless, the ministry continues to do good work serving Afghan refugees.
ICC’s project with this ministry has been providing tailored assistance to Afghan Christian refugee families, helping them to remain safely in Country X and encouraging them to build relationships with new Afghan arrivals for further Gospel outreach. The goal of ICC’s project was two-fold. The first goal was to grow a Christian ministry so that it could absorb new Afghan arrivals and share the Gospel with them. This was unprecedented in Country X’s context and reflects ICC’s forward thinking regarding evangelization. ICC furthered this goal by supporting pastoral costs and providing Bibles.
The second goal of the project was to support current Afghan Muslim-background believers (MBBs) facing persecution, by stabilizing their situation and giving them a toolkit that enables them to safely remain in Country X (rather than be deported back to Afghanistan) in a self-sufficient way. The hope was that this degree of self-sufficiency would help protect the Afghan Christian refugees from future incidents of persecution. On this score, ICC provided food assistance and educational assistance.
This project achieved its goals, and Afghans supported by the project have expressed their gratitude. Regarding the first goal of growing a Christian ministry so that it can serve Afghan arrivals, we received the following testimonial from the pastor, Mohammed, heading the ministry.
He wrote, “Dear brothers and sisters, thank you very much for your encouragement and partnership in my ministry and for your prayers. By the grace of God, I have been serving Turks, Afghans, and Iranians in my city’s church. Christianity was introduced in a very bad way in this city, making our ministry of first overcoming their bad witness and then sharing the Good News and building the Church very difficult. With God’s help, I was able to share the Good News of the Kingdom of God with these two young men. Thank you very much for your partnership and I pray that the Lord would protect you and bless your ministry.”
Regarding the second goal of supporting Afghan Christian MBBs, we received the following testimonials from Afghans served by the project. Abdul, an Afghan Christian man who relocated to Country X, said, “I am from Afghanistan. My father believed in Jesus Christ in 2003 in Pakistan and over time our whole family believed in Jesus Christ. In 2014 we returned to Afghanistan. I later married a relative who was a Muslim and did not know our family was Christian . . . [but she] found out we were Christians. My family and I were very afraid that my wife would share our being Christian with her very conservative Muslim family. Because of much persecution, God put in our hearts that we should leave Afghanistan, and with God’s help, we came to Country X.”
The pastor working with Abdul’s wife, Hajira, also said the following, “When Abdul and his wife Hajira moved to Country X, she was still a Muslim. Abdul shared his story with me because he was very stressed and always asked me to pray that God would touch his wife’s heart so that she would also believe in Jesus Christ. As we continued to pray, God touched Hajira’s heart… now by God’s grace the relationship between them and with their daughter is much better than before and their faith is growing day by day.”