There are still Christians in Afghanistan today

Even today, Christians can be found in Afghanistan.

(THE PROPHECY OF THE SAINTS) It’s no surprise that many Christians left the nation. The decision to stay was not simple, and neither is life here simple.

For the past year, the Taliban has been ruling the country. And certainly, the extremist Islam practiced by the Taliban teaches that Muslims who abandon Islam for another faith are apostates who should be put to death if they refuse to return to Islam.

Maybe you heard that once Kabul fell, all Afghan Christians either left the country, were slaughtered, or were hiding out on the other side of the border.

However, Christians are still present in Afghanistan today.

Our “What’s next?” culture moves quickly, so it may seem like a long time since we’ve given Afghanistan any thought. Ever since we saw those photos of desperate parents throwing their infants over a fence so that their kids may live in freedom, we’ve been determined to do something to help. Or since we’ve seen footage of young guys clinging desperately to the outside of planes, deciding that dying in a free fall from thousands of feet is preferable to being forced to adhere to the Taliban’s harsh interpretation of Islam.

It’s just been a year, yet it feels like much longer. One year, one Christmas, and one birthday.

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It may seem like a long time to us, but it must feel even longer to the people still living in Afghanistan. Many of “Taliban 2.0’s” commitments to the Trump administration during negotiations in Doha have already been breached. No, I don’t think it’s appropriate for girls to attend school. As for a free press, forget it.

What about the right to practice one’s faith freely? I seriously doubt the Taliban ever claimed they would allow freedom of religion. Anyone born into a Muslim family is automatically considered a Muslim according to this interpretation of Islam. A Muslim is considered an apostate if they do not demonstrate sufficient devotion to their faith or if they convert to another religion.

After seeing the Taliban’s rise to power in the past year and becoming familiar with their ideology, many Christians, especially those who made a public profession of their faith, left the country. Other Christians, especially those whose faith was hidden from the world, took the courageous choice to remain. They feared there would be no one left to preach the faith if Christians left.

The decision to stay was not simple, and neither is life here simple.

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In Afghanistan, neighbors are often referred to as “those who share our shade,” a phrase that may have originated when nomadic herders set up camp in the same area. Afghans are expected to know a great deal about others who share their skin tone, as this is a significant social category. They keep tabs on the comings and goings of their neighbors, take note if somebody stops showing up for Friday prayers, and so on.

Christians in Afghanistan are subject to constant curiosity from their non-Christian neighbors due to this cultural norm. Usually, it’s a parent, an elder sibling, or a neighbor who asks the first question. The Taliban might ask afterwards. When persecution of Christians begins, those who still call themselves Christians must decide whether to come clean as apostates and risk death, or to change their appearance by relocating to an area where no one knows them.

In the first eight months after the Taliban takeover, one Christian in Afghanistan, whom I will name Abdullah, who is affiliated with The Voice of the Martyrs, relocated three times. After his neighbors caught on to his lack of Islamic fervor, staying put was no longer an option for him. He had to uproot his family three times, and each time he did, he had to leave his job, because there are so few in Afghanistan due to the country’s shattered economy.

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To us, this seems like a terrible situation, and we may think, “He should have fled.” For sure, it would have been the safer option. Perhaps he should have emigrated to the West, or at least to a neighbouring Islamic state that was less extremist.

However, Abdullah disagrees. Since the Taliban’s overthrow, he has been able to share the gospel with his fellow Afghans and disciple new believers. Because of the daily demonstrations of violence and persecution by the Taliban in the name of Islam, he is finding that many Afghans are more receptive to hearing about the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is clear to Abdullah that he is in grave danger. However, he values the chance to proclaim the gospel, to provide the peace and hope of Christ to a people severely needing both, at a price that includes risk, the continuous need to change his shade, and the absence of employment. That’s why he decided to stay.

Assuming you mean Christians, the answer is yes. And they should have our respect, our prayers, and our assistance.

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