KABUL – That is one way to describe Afghanistan: 48,000 mosques; no churches.
Our mental picture of Afghanistan is a country torn by Taliban tribal warfare and a haven of ISIS. That vision includes thousands of U.S. troops in-country and many more whose return to “normal life” has been hindered by afflictions that range from lost limbs to severe mental trauma.
Even the “normal life” to which they have returned has become a different normal. It sometimes feels like barely a week goes by without some kind of incident in which at least several people are killed or wounded. We in America are shocked when these incidents occur.
By comparison, these events happen on a much more regular basis in Afghanistan. Shootings, bombings, and rocket attacks are the norm in this Asian nation. In one recent week alone, at least 63 innocent Afghani citizens were killed and nearly 300 others, including children, were wounded in what have become “routine” incidents.
Thirty years of war in Afghanistan has not happened in a vacuum. An entire generation has experienced constant terror under which the 400,000 Christians live on the edge daily. They suffer from not only the stresses of a war-torn country but from the persecution of Muslims who comprise 99.8% of the country’s population of nearly 38 million.
It is a reasonably well-known fact that Christians living in predominantly Muslim countries suffer persecution and ostracization from their own families. What is not so well-understood is that families who fail to convince new believers to return to Islam, those families may turn them over as targets for more intense persecution by either the Taliban or ISIS.
Unlike those of us in the U.S., Afghani Christian adherents have no churches to attend where they can fellowship and help to carry one another’s burdens. Todd Nettleton of Voices of the Martyrs says,
“It’s not [at] a church building where you would see Afghan converts to Christianity come together and worship – that would simply be too dangerous. It’s almost an unthinkable thing.”
Prayercast has identified Christians living in Afghanistan as among the world’s most persecuted,
“Where any belief contrary to Islam is illegal. Converting from Islam to Christianity can result in death, and believers gather and worship in secret.”
Yet, as is usually the circumstance with persecution, there is evidence of more Muslims leaving Islam to follow Jesus Christ. Why would they do that? Because they see the faith of individual believers and the peace that passes all human understanding evidence by those faithful ones.
48,000 mosques. No churches. Constant persecution of Christians. Over 37 million who need to come to Christ. Only 40,000 believers to reach them. But those 40,000 serve the Almighty God who loves us so much that He gave His only Son to be our Savior.
The people of Afghanistan need Jesus. They need our prayers on their behalf.