Afghanistan (MNN) –The coronavirus is but one of the problems emerging on every front in Afghanistan. Another is an attack claimed by the Islamic State that killed 25 earlier this week at a Sikh temple.
“Even if there is peace with the Taliban, the Islamic State is still active in Afghanistan and they are still willing to carry out these kinds of attacks,” Voice of the Martyrs USA spokesman Todd Nettleton says, citing a February peace deal between the U.S. and Taliban representatives.
Politics add another layer of complexity. Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah both claim to be Afghanistan’s president, even though Ghani was deemed the election winner in February. U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo announced the end of $1 billion in aid payments to Afghanistan on Monday, with another $1 billion cut scheduled for 2021.
Afghanistan may seem hopeless, but, “God is at work,” Nettleton says.
“Twenty years ago, we talked about just a handful of Christian believers in the whole country, and today we talk about believers in every single province.”
What is God doing in Afghanistan?
As described by Operation World, Afghanistan is one of the world’s least-reached nations. Various empires have fought for control of this strategic land for thousands of years, and more than 70 distinct people groups call it “home.”
Islamic rulers keep a tight rein on religion in Afghanistan, stifling any non-Muslim activities. Government and terrorist oppression make Gospel work extremely difficult. VOM USA describes what Afghan believers face in its Global Prayer Guide:
Beatings, torture, and kidnappings are routine for Christians in Afghanistan. Waves of Christians have emigrated to neighboring countries in order to worship openly. Still, Afghan house churches continue to grow. A small number of Christians are martyred every year in Afghanistan, but this occurs largely without public knowledge. A small number of believers are also in prison, but imprisonment is not common. Christian converts from Islam are often killed by family members or radicals before any legal process takes place.
Gospel work may be difficult, but it is not fruitless. In this VOM Radio interview, author John Weaver – who lived many years inside Afghanistan – discusses how God is moving in this war-torn nation.
How can I help?
Praise God for the spiritual harvest in this troubled nation. And, keep praying for Afghanistan. This Prayercast video offers several points to get you started.
“We pray for peace for the Afghan people who have been through so much war and so much violence and loss of life for decades,” Nettleton says. “They want peace. They want a safe country to raise their children in.”
“One very specific way to pray, as you think about new believers, is the first time they tell somebody, ‘hey, I’m not a Muslim anymore! I’m a follower of Jesus Christ.’ That conversation literally could be life-ending for them,” Nettleton says.
Pray the conversation “is not a ‘Hey, return to Islam or I’m going to kill you’,” type of discussion, he asks. Instead, pray the discussion “may allow them to plant more seeds for the Gospel.”
Header image obtained via Wikimedia Commons.