(Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to join us on Thursday, October 20, 2022 in a prayer conference call for the persecuted church hosted by Persecution Watch.
Afghanistan: Population:38.9 million, Christians in the thousands.
“There are still Christians in Afghanistan,” said Todd Nettleton, an author and radio host who works for the international humanitarian nonprofit VOM. “I think during the time of the Taliban takeover a year ago, there was a lot of coverage that kind of suggested that all the Christians had fled the country.” As the Afghan government crumbled last year, many Christians fled, because they knew the Taliban’s hardline theology and intolerance toward Christians, especially those who had converted from Islam.
Many who were widely known to have renounced Islam for Christianity escaped to other countries, but the potentially thousands of Christians who remain face profound challenges. “Those are the people who made the incredibly bold decision to stay in the country. “And their attitude was, ‘Listen, if all the Christians flee the country, who’s going to be here to share the gospel, who’s going to be here to be the church?’ And so, they made that courageous decision to stay, even knowing that the Taliban would be taking over; knowing it was a very risky thing.”
Taliban denies Christians exist in the country.
The organization labeled Afghanistan a restricted country, where beatings, torture and kidnappings are routine for Christians. Christians are forbidden to openly worship or evangelize in the country, where the population is 99.8 percent Muslim, and both local and national governments are “highly antagonistic” toward Christian believers. The number of Christians who are martyred there, though small, generally die without public knowledge, and converts from Islam often are killed by family members or other radicalized Muslims before any legal proceedings can begin.
The situation is still very chaotic—there are lots of things happening in the country. They’re the conquerors, the victors, and they want to show that they are there. Many bad things are happening, but it’s different from region to region or village to village. It depends on the local commander—what would he do?
Some women are already being kidnapped, taken from their houses, and forced into marriage, although we don’t know the exact number. Of course, many women will have to buy burqas, especially in the big cities. In many rural areas, it was like the Taliban never left during the last 20 years. For them, it was still the same, very strict. In other places, there was more freedom, but now they must go back. We also know from local sources and the media that many women haven’t returned to work because they’re afraid they will be punished for it later.
There is a lot of fear. It’s not just the girls who are at risk; it’s the boys too. The Taliban may recruit them. This is a difficult time to be a parent in Afghanistan—how can you protect your children?
And then there are the Christians who face all that and must hide their faith. They are thinking, how much does the Taliban know?How much do my neighbors know? Will they betray us?
Maybe someone will accuse you of something that you have not even done, but they so fear for their own lives that they must give the Taliban something. So, it’s a country ruled by fear now.
Looking at the facts, there is no official church for indigenous believers in the country. The last church building that was there was destroyed 50 years ago.
The number of indigenous believers is relatively small. That makes them more challenging to reach. Are they being hunted down? They’re a target. When you get a house visit, the Taliban want to see if you are a good Muslim in their eyes, according to their standard of what makes a good Muslim. So, if you are a Christian, you’re not just a bad Muslim; you are an apostate—and you will be targeted.
- Pray for Taliban government leaders that the Lord will convict them, help them to recognize the value of women as equal partners.
- Pray that the Lord will blind the radical Muslims and Jihadists, confuse them, distract them, frustrate them in their quest to hunt down Christians.
- Pray for the safety of Muslim background believers who are under tremendous pressure, that the Lord will give them wisdom to deflect questions like ‘why did you miss prayers?’, ‘we don’t see you in the mosque’.
- Pray for the Lord to comfort, console and have His hand on the young Christian girls and women who were kidnapped, and were forced into marrying Muslims.
- Pray for protection of teenagers and men from being forced into the Taliban military.
- Pray for the Christian refugees who are trying to restart their lives in a strange country and culture.
- Pray for the refugees who live in tent cities so that they can stay warm in the coming winter month.
- Pray that the Lord will put His hedge of protection around those Christians who stayed behind and must hide their faith. Pray that these Christians will connect with other believers for fellowship and encouragement.
- Pray to the Lord for protection and provision for Christians who are witnessing to Muslims.
- Pray to the Lord that He will give wisdom and discernment to those who want to return to Afghanistan to His witnesses.
- Pray to the Lord that Christians will forgive and love their persecutors.
- Pray for the NGOs working to equip and encourage Afghan Christians and that the Lord will show them creative ways to distribute aid and support.
- Pray that the gates of hell will be closed and that in due time the Lord will let His believers plant churches all over Afghanistan.
We are continuing to lift up these persecuted witnesses to the Lord:
Leah Sharibu prisoner of Boko Haram since 2018. Pray for her release.
Alice Loksha Ngaddah was kidnapped in February 2019. She is a mother of two, working as a nurse for UNICEF. Pray for her release.
Pastor Wang Yi to be released from Chinese prison.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Iran for his release and his family as their persecution continues. Pastor Nadarkhani is serving the second year of his six-year sentence.
Anita, a Christian convert, had faced a long prison term but was able to escape from Iran. She and her family have finally arrived in their permanent host country where they can express their faith openly. Pray for an easy transition into the new culture.
“I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18)
Andy, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Moderator
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What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern time in the United States (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted, and the missions became one. Brother Blaine passed into glory on December 26, 2019. It was truly a blessing for all of us to serve alongside this dear man of God and he will be greatly missed. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch remains an important part of our mission. Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with the dedicated Persecution Watch prayer warrior team.
Prior to the passing of Brother Blaine, he confirmed the passing of the torch as prayer conference call leader to Nadia Dybvik. Nadia has a burdened heart for the persecuted and is a prayer warrior standing in the gap for them. She joined the Persecution Watch prayer team in 2013 and has been part of the core ever since. Before becoming the prayer call leader, she served in the role of prayer moderator since 2015. Blaine chose Nadia for her faithfulness to pray for the persecuted and her strong commitment to the Persecution Watch mission. We are blessed not only with her gift of prayer, but her genuine love for every brother and sister in Christ that comes on the call to pray. May the Lord continue to bless Nadia and the prayer team in the mission and their personal lives.
“Pray for us” is the number one request that we hear from the persecuted. As the members of the first century Church were moved by the Holy Spirit to pray, we too must continue to serve those suffering persecution by lifting them up to the Lord through prayer.
On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the conference call to share the trials they are facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.
Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone.
We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you are new to the call and cannot find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!
God bless and protect you in your faithfulness to serve.
Lois Kanalos, Founder, Voice of the Persecuted, Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader and the Persecution Watch Prayer Team
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Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.