Afghanistan: Remaining Christians live precarious existence

September 26, 2022

Afghanistan under the Taliban does not acknowledge that any citizen of the country is Christian at all. Most of the Christians in Afghanistan therefore keep their faith secret. Conversion from Islam to Christianity is illegal.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Afghanistan, see here.

“There are still Christians in Afghanistan,” by Todd Nettleton, Voice of the Martyrs, August 30, 2022:

There are still Christians in Afghanistan.

Yes, the Taliban are in control of the country and have been for the past year. And yes, the Taliban’s version of radical Islam teaches that Muslims who leave that religion to follow another are apostates who should be executed if they refuse to return to Islam.

Perhaps you heard after the fall of Kabul that every follower of Christ in Afghanistan had either fled the country, been killed or was in hiding while trying to get across the border.

But there are still Christians in Afghanistan….

Staying was not an easy decision to make, and it is not an easy life.

Afghans speak of neighbors as those who “share our shade,” a colloquialism that may be traced back to nomadic herders camping beneath the same tree. Culturally, it is common for Afghans to know a lot about those who share their shade. They notice when their neighbors have guests in their homes, when they come and go … and if they stop attending Friday prayers.

Because of this Afghan cultural norm, Christians almost always face questions from their neighbors. The first questions typically are not from the Taliban — that may come later — but from a father, an older brother or one of those sharing their shade. When questions start, our Christian brothers and sisters face a daunting decision to admit apostasy and risk their lives, or change their shade by moving to a new location where nobody knows them.

One Afghan Christian — I’ll call him Abdullah — connected with The Voice of the Martyrs, moved three times in the first eight months after the Taliban takeover. It was too dangerous for him to stay put once neighbors noticed his lack of Islamic enthusiasm. He uprooted his family three times, and moving caused him to give up his job, of which there are few available in Afghanistan’s broken economy.

We might look at this hardship and think, “He should have left.” Yes, it would have been safer. Perhaps he could have come to the West or at least to a more stable, less radical Islamic country nearby.

But Abdullah doesn’t see it that way. In the months since the Taliban takeover, he has been able to tell other Afghans about Jesus and help disciple and encourage new believers. He’s finding that as the Taliban demonstrate violence and oppression in the name of Islam every day, many Afghans are becoming more open to hearing about the Way, the Truth and the Life. Abdullah knows his life is in danger. But he sees danger, the recurring need to change his shade and the lack of a job as fair trade for the opportunity to proclaim the gospel, to offer the peace and hope of Christ to a nation desperately lacking both. So he stays….