Although prayer requests for the Afghan church have been flying across Christian social media in the west in the last week, the truth is that the church was already severely persecuted before the Taliban seized control of the war-torn country on Sunday.
Open Doors USA ranked Afghanistan as the second-worse nation in the world to be a Christian, only slightly better than North Korea, as noted this week by International Christian Concern, another global Christian watch group.
The organization explained that as the Afghan church is comprised almost entirely of converts from Islam, which is the majority faith in the nation by far, they already largely practiced underground.
The 2004 constitution of the government that was just deposed by the Taliban restricted religious freedom, forbidding the gospel from being preached in public and restricting Christian conversion.
Those who heard and received the Gospel lived in constant risk of being found out and targeted by their community members.
However, in July, as the Taliban gained strength and a takeover as US and NATO troops withdrew seemed imminent, Afghan pastors took an incredibly bold move.
They decided to officially register their forbidden faith, preparing for certain persecution and near-certain death once the caliphate took over.
The Gospel Coalition shared their incredible story earlier this week, and it is enough to humble the most alienated American adherent to Christianity.
“What about our children and our grandchildren?” they said, according to the ministry. “Someone should make this sacrifice so the next generations can openly call themselves followers of Jesus.”
Even then, with the American-backed Afghan regime still in power, they prayed for protection, expecting to be thrown in jail the following day. While they were interviewed, they were not arrested.
However, the Taliban is now coming for some of these leaders.
During a Afghan/English church retreat in Memphis over what was a horrifically momentous weekend for Afghanistan, TGC’s Mark Morris writes that they learned that a pastor in the country had received a letter from the Taliban.
“We know who you are, what you do, and where to find you,” the letter read.
On Saturday, when the terror group had already taken over dozens of the nation’s provinces and was approaching the capital of Kabul, the Taliban was at this pastor’s door.
Thankfully, he had already gone into hiding.
Morris heard an Afghan pastor speak “through tears” of a man who, three days earlier, had his 14-year-old daughter kidnapped by the Taliban and given to young fighters as a “wife,” which is only lightly glorified sex slavery.
As the nation falls to this wicked new regime, reports are filtering out to the west of Taliban fighters going door to door to recruit such “wives.”
Afghan allies of the U.S. have been reportedly killed in gruesome ways, and more Christians have received such threats of persecution and death.
There is no doubt that our freedom to practice our faith is under attack in the United States. Yet when we consider the plight of the persecuted church overseas, we can see the true cost of following Christ.
How many of us would step up and boldly declare we are followers of Christ in the face of certain faith in such a manner?
As always, keep the persecuted church in your prayers. Our brothers and sisters around the world are suffering for His sake. We know their reward will be great in heaven for their courage and spirit.
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