Story Afghanistan | 24 January 2023

‘We have lost our homeland’: Reflections on Afghanistan


Show: false / Country: Afghanistan / Afghanistan
How life has changed—and worsened—for Christians under the Taliban On August 15, 2021, Taliban fighters swept into Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, the last step to their complete military control of the country. By the end of the month, American military forces had withdrawn from Afghanistan, and the nation’s conversion into an Islamic emirate ruled by the Taliban was made official.

It’s been nearly 18 months since that date and Open Doors wanted to bring you this first-hand look at what the situation is like for Christians living in Afghanistan, as well as for Afghans who made the painful decision to flee to Central Asia and live as refugees.

These are real quotes from real people who are from Afghanistan and surrounding areas. For security reasons, names are disguised throughout—but please pray with your sisters and brothers who risk everything to follow Jesus in and around Afghanistan.

Last year, Open Doors reported: “Christians are in grave danger. Anybody who is exposed, will be severely punished.” That was shortly after the Taliban took over in Afghanistan. What’s changed since then?

Hana, Open Doors partner in the region: Tens of thousands of people have fled the country; hundreds of people [who were] seen to have “collaborated” with the United States and the previous government were killed. The Christian community in particular was exposed to the Taliban. Many of our families had to flee on the night the Taliban arrived; others [fled when they heard] homes were being cleared out and friends and family members were being martyred.

Abdullah with young daughter

“Ordinary people in Afghanistan live in great danger. When they get up in the morning, they can't be sure if they'll live to see the night. And when they go to bed at night, there is no certainty that they will live until morning. A lot of terrible things are happening there, [which ] we … learn about from our friends and relatives. They say that the Taliban often go [out] in the evenings; they break into houses and can just kill for any reason.” —Abdulla, Afghan refugee in Central Asia

The Taliban swept into power with promises of moderation—for women, religious minorities, etc. What’s the status of those promises?

Hana: The moderation is yet to appear to the people in Afghanistan. In fact, things are getting worse; on days when policies become moderate, they are changed to even more harsh policies in hours. [The Taliban] have lost the trust of all people, and many live a life of uncertainty.

“It's been a year from last year[’s Taliban takeover] to now, as I can say with confidence that there hasn't been a single day that I've been happy.” —Sitara, Afghan refugee in Central Asia

What is daily life like for Christians in Afghanistan?

Hana: Afghanistan’s Christians are on the move, trying their best to avoid detection. Many families who faced persecution in the past see a continuation of this persecution; however, now there is no safety anywhere, for anyone. The schools were closed and are now only open for boys; many girls are very upset that they had to stop their education mid-stream. They are capable and intelligent—our Christian girls and boys are compassionate, and willing to serve people. However, the opportunity for the church to engage with the wider community for now is on hold.

“The Christian [in Afghanistan] is a ‘kafir’ [‘sinner’ or ‘infidel’]. If [it’s discovered] that some man is a Christian, they would kill [him] immediately. And not only the person, but also the whole family … would be killed.” —Nilufar, Afghan refugee in Central Asia

During the Taliban takeover, Open Doors was able to confirm multiple reports that the Taliban had a list of Christians and it was going door-to-door, searching for believers. What was the result of that door-to-door action?

Hana: The door-to-door action involved groups of soldiers launching violent attacks on those on the list, and their families. Many have been killed as retribution for years of being out of power. Others have fled the violence and live in hiding. Christians who worked with the former regime and the West are under particular pressure. There is no sign of any forgiveness.

“In the morning, leaving home, people say goodbye to their parents and relatives because there is no certainty that they will return home and see their family again.” —Abdulla, Afghan refugee in Central Asia

A believer from Afghanistan recently told us that her parents, still in Afghanistan, describe the country as “a prison” for women. Can you talk about the specific impact of the Taliban’s rule on women?

Hana: This is the return to the ways of [an extremist branch of] Islam that sees women as the “property” of men who have one purpose: to produce more soldiers for the fight or jihad. Therefore, for some it is a prison; others have been forced into marriage with Taliban fighters who abuse them for the purpose of raising a family. This strategy also ensures a long-term link with the community, and it is the best way to embed their ideology and fighters. The levels of fear rising in the community in Afghanistan ensures compliance, as anyone who disagrees with the regime are tracked [now] and killed later. The numbers of female activists killed in Afghanistan continues—now as state-sanctioned and -approved [actions].

“The women now live as in prison—[like] how it feels to be in a closed box. They can’t breathe. If a woman goes out, she doesn’t know what will happen with her in the next 10 minutes. Will she return home … or not?” —Nilufar, Afghan refugee in Central Asia


“It is very difficult to live in Afghanistan now. Women don't have any human rights there. [They] have been forced to wear the hijab [head coverings]. And if a woman refuses to wear the hijab, she will either be killed or severely beaten.” —Shafika, Afghan refugee in Central Asia

“I have two nieces [still in Afghanistan]. They also have daughters. They can't go outside. If they come out, they will be caught and killed.” —Hadija, Afghan refugee in Central Asia

The media is full of reports of the economic devastation faced by people in Afghanistan. How is that crisis impacting followers of Jesus?

Hana: There is a great deal of fear among the followers of Jesus; many have had to migrate to other parts of the country. The banking system has collapsed and inflation is at an all-time high. As more people were afraid to return to work and women have not been able to go back to work, family incomes have gone down; many of the faithful are having to share what little they have with each other.


“We have lost our homeland. And I could never imagine that this would happen, and that it would end like this.” —Sitara, Afghan refugee in Central Asia

“Recently, a friend of mine from Facebook secretly filmed what was happening on his smartphone. The Taliban came, grabbed him, beat him badly and broke his phone.” —Abdulla, Afghan refugee in Central Asia

What does church look like for believers in Afghanistan? What do believers look like?

Hana: They look like the people you see on your television, but they carry the responsibility to be the light of Christ in a very dark world, [and many choose] to die for their faith. Many profess to be Christians as they feel it’s their best chance of leaving; [many] of them are fake [Christians]. Our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan are willing to sacrifice and endure more suffering by staying in the country, as they believe they are tied to their country, and if they leave there is only destruction awaiting the rest of their countrymen. Many of the [Afghan] pastors have chosen to die for their faith. So those leaving the country do so as a last resort and see no hope. Others hold on to Christ, and the hope He offers.

“My son-in-law was killed. I had several sons-in-law. We were afraid that they, too, would be killed, and they had to flee.” —Hadija, Afghan refugee in central Asia

Can you give us some real examples of what Christians experience in Afghanistan?

Hana: There is no food—many [believers] have to skip meals and try their best to earn a living. This is not impossible when unemployment is at its highest levels in 20 years.

There have also been recorded instances of the murder of dissidents and the kidnapping of girls as brides for Taliban men. There is increased violence between factions, and the loss of life continues to increase, as many civilians are collateral damage.

Christians are also dealing with the fallout of the destruction of women’s medical education, and the rise in mother and infant mortality. Many women are forced to give birth at home, as hospitals— particularly maternity wards—are considered soft targets.

please pray

1. For security for all believers and seekers, for people to meet with Christ in dreams and visions, that Christ may direct them to a place of nurture and discipleship. Pray for our teams as they navigate minefields and dangerous parts of the country to reach our family in Christ.
2. For access to education and medical help: Apart from food and relief, the way out of an existence [where the church simply “survives”] is the access people can have to education and medical help.
3. For vision and prophesy in the church that will lead us to a thriving and growing church even in these circumstances.
4. For our team who continues to work under grave conditions. Pray for the men and women with their own families and children who are willing to put themselves at risk for the strengthening of the Church.
5. For the Taliban; that they too would come to know and have a personal relationship with Jesus as their Lord and Savior.


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