Afghanistan (MNN) — Violence is a constant threat in Afghanistan. The latest Taliban bombing killed three aid workers and at least six civilians – the deadliest episode in a year.
Simultaneously, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai – the Taliban’s chief negotiator – promised an impending defeat of coalition forces led by the United States. U.S. forces began military action on-the-ground in 2001 following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and troops maintain an active presence today.
National instability combines with widespread hostility against believers to make Afghanistan the world’s second-biggest persecutor of Christians, Open Doors reports. Since Islam is the state religion, followers of any other faith meet severe oppression. According to Prayercast, there are approximately 48,000 mosques in Afghanistan and zero churches.
Difficulties like these make it seemingly impossible to reach Afghanistan for Christ. However, those same challenges hold a promise of hope – only God can save the Afghan people.
“There’s nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing that will stop the pursuit of the Lord from saving and redeeming His people, even from the deep ends of the pit of hell that are surrounded by the Taliban, by the evil forces,” a Muslim-background believer we’ll call Neda* states emphatically.
“There’s nothing that is impossible for the Lord to do.”
“My heart goes [out] for the people who have no idea that there’s freedom in Jesus. My heart hurts for each man, woman and child,” Neda says.
“We have the Bible… we have churches that we can openly go [to] and… preach and praise and worship the Lord. They don’t have that freedom because they’re held captive by the Taliban.”
Neda’s story: from darkness to light
Neda was born in Afghanistan but came to the U.S. with her family years ago. “I was a very young child when we were forced to flee our country… my siblings and I were enrolled in an Islamic school.
“We were taught to recite verses from the Quran, and it was a form of us to hold on to our faith and our religion and our culture,” Neda recalls, explaining her parents’ insistence upon “discipline” and upholding the family’s Islamic faith.
As explained in today’s “Love Muslims” video, the tenants of Islam require strict adherence:
Submission is a virtue in the Quran (3.19), and independence is never valued. Islam orders everyone to surrender as slaves to Allah. No one who becomes a Muslim may ever leave; traitors deserve death (Quran 4.89).
“The older I got, I became more influenced by the Western culture and I began to struggle with my own identity,” continues Neda. “I began to rebel against my family and Islam so that I would be accepted in this lost world.
“Little did I know I was being pursued by God and our Lord Jesus Christ, and I was found.”
Today, Neda stands firm in her faith as the only Christian in her Muslim family. However, she’s praying that will change. Small reminders of God’s faithfulness serve as encouraging signs.
“I do see the Lord working mightily amid my family…they’re starting to question little things about Islam. They’re starting to question the differences between the Jesus in Islam and the Jesus in our Holy Bible…I know that one day the Lord will redeem them.”
*– Name changed for security purposes.
Header image depicts U.S. Marines take cover from a controlled detonation of explosives during a combat operation in the abandoned village of Now Zad, Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Photo and caption obtained via Wikimedia Commons.