Following Christ in Afghanistan was risky before the Taliban took over in August. Now, it’s even worse.

“I was talking to one of my partners today, and he told me two people just got arrested by the Taliban. They’re (the Taliban) now going through their phone numbers to see who [these Christians are] in contact with,” Reza* with Global Catalytic Ministries says.

“The Taliban, even though they’re trying to show a ‘light’ version of themselves, it’s not true. They are going after Christians; they are going after believers.”

Afghanistan just replaced North Korea as the world’s most dangerous place to be a Christian, according to the persecution watchdog Open Doors. It’s the first time North Korea has not topped Open Doors’ annual list in two decades.

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Open Doors measures multiple factors and the growth or decline over time to compile its World Watch List. According to this year’s assessment of Afghanistan:

“For Christians, 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.”

Afghan Christians confirm the increased dangers they now face under Taliban rule. “Leaders inside the country are saying it’s a whole new country. New rules, a new way of life; a very difficult, very fearful way of life,” Reza says.

A woman stands next to food supplies she's been given by the ministryTestimony from an underground church leader: “It’s so precious; it’s a privilege for me to see when the hope comes into their eyes, when they start to realize that they really are loved and that they’re special… It gives me strength also to think about living tomorrow. One more day. Day by day and step by step.”
(Photo, caption courtesy of Global Catalytic Ministries)

Helping Afghan Christians

GCM helps Afghan believers weather the storm by delivering food aid and heat supplies. Nationals and former Muslims – some of whom were even terrorists – are passionate about bringing the Gospel to their fellow countrymen and do so at high personal cost and risk.

“The ones that have stayed are willing to risk their lives to move the Gospel forward,” Reza says.

“Remember, these are our brothers and sisters; we are a body, we are one family. When the hand is hurting, the eye can’t say, ‘okay, well, that’s not my problem. It’s way over there; I have nothing to do with it,” he continues.

“We have to try. It might be some effort to help the body of Christ in Afghanistan, but it’s [what] the Lord has commanded us to do.”

Ask the Lord to protect Afghan Christians, and pray the underground church can survive. Follow Global Catalytic Ministries on Facebook for updates.

“Afghanistan is the second-fastest-growing church in the world, and we want to see the move of God continue,” Reza says.

“Afghanistan is not lost; all that the Lord did before this (the Taliban takeover) has not been wasted or lost. No, the Lord is going to do something even more magnificent with fewer people.”




Written by Katey Hearth. This story originally appeared at mission network news and is republished here with permission.