Afghans head to Iran for safety

By September 7, 2021

Iran (MNN) — Iran lurks in the shadows of the Afghanistan crisis. “Iran is definitely a power player and is watching this very closely; they have a very vested interest in Afghanistan,” Reza* with Global Catalytic Ministries (GCM) says.

“Two weeks ago, the Taliban was [in Iran] having a high-level meeting with the Iranian government.”

See our full Afghanistan coverage here.

A brief Google search reveals plenty of complexities regarding Iran and Afghanistan relations following last week’s U.S. withdrawal. This report urges Western leaders to proceed with caution:

For the past 42 years, Iran’s clerical regime has been unsuccessful in its attempts to expand its presence in Afghanistan, but the Taliban’s takeover promises to change this. While Tehran’s ambition to fill the vacuum will surprise few, it is the nature of its new Afghan strategy that should ring alarm bells in the West.

Believers on the run…

GCM helps Christians inside Afghanistan escape persecution. More about that here. “This is not a country we’re not familiar with. We have leaders and a network; it’s our second biggest work after Iran,” Reza says.

(Graphic courtesy Global Catalytic Ministries)

“We are trying to keep them safe, as much as we can. Our policy at GCM is not to take people out of the country, but to have them keep changing cities. If it comes to a point when changing cities doesn’t work, then we will extract them out of the country.”

Last week, GCM shared the following update from a Gospel worker inside Afghanistan:

Everyone changed their clothes the way the Taliban want. I didn’t see anyone getting beaten yesterday and I’m thankful for that. So what I see today doesn’t mean it won’t happen tomorrow.

There are Taliban that are still in the streets in cars with guns. They are very proud to be using the cars from the police with their guns and clothes. I passed by the police station today and all of them have left, so the Taliban are really celebrating their victory, but it is not finished yet.

But the good thing is that it is very, very, very clear now more than ever the difference between darkness and light. People are really seeing how bad it is.

Even my neighbors, who are all Pashto Muslims, say, ‘It gives us hope to see you!’ So there is hope. Yes, the bad is still in the news, but there are good things building here and growing. It is very visible.

Follow GCM on Facebook for more updates.

…to Iran?

Reza and his cohorts also see Afghans fleeing to Iran. Taliban fighters “want to continue what Mohammed [started] in the history of Islam. [He] raped and pillaged and took over through brute force, through killing …. They want to make a name for themselves,” Reza says.

“I had a leader at the border [who] said there’s just a stream of people coming from Afghanistan into Iran.”

Even though life might be less dangerous inside Iran, it’s not easier.

“Afghans are always second-class citizens inside of Iran. They don’t have rights. They don’t have I.D. cards; they don’t have anything,” Reza says.

Testimony on the ground: “A woman and her children moved to the city and have been having a hard time. She was so happy to receive these materials. The previous night, she had a dream that God would help her. God was in her dream and told her, ‘Don’t worry. I am with you. I will help you. Not just in the city, I am with you every place you go. Just don’t worry, and don’t fear. I am with you.’ The Lord was already speaking, and today just proved that we are workers for Him.”
(Photo, caption courtesy of Global Catalytic Ministries)

With help from believers like you, GCM delivers essential daily items – food water, etc. – to Afghan Christians in hiding. Send physical aid and Gospel hope to believers here.

Most importantly, keep praying for Afghanistan. Use the prompts listed alongside this report to guide your intercession.

“In 1979, when the revolution happened in Iran, all the foreigners left and look at what happened to Iran — it became the fastest growing church within 40 years,” Reza says.

“Maybe this is another way that the Lord wants to move.”

 

*Pseudonym

 

 

 

“Sometimes you never know how fear will come. I remember how scared I was at first in 2010 when the police came into the house. I trembled so much I couldn’t even text for prayer. I never thought I’d be so afraid. You never know how you’ll react, but God is present, and He will keep you going. Thank you for your prayers.”
– underground church leader in Afghanistan
(Header image courtesy of Global Catalytic Ministries)