Photo: Shutterstock: Afghanistan/Sheberghan
The strictest interpretation of Shariah law—this is what Afghans can expect as the Taliban re-establish their rule over Afghanistan.
In a press interview, the Taliban’s former head of religious police, Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, said extreme punishments, such as executions and amputations, will resume.
Turabi told AP News that amputations and executions were “necessary for security” and that the Taliban’s cabinet ministers were now discussing whether or not punishments should be public. Under Taliban rule in the 1990s, executions were held in public. The scenes of public massacres and amputations inside Kabul’s soccer stadium are still fresh in the minds of Afghan people.
For secret believers inside the country who have left Islam to follow Jesus—considered apostates under Shariah law—the new announcement is a death sentence. Under strict Shariah law, apostates are subject to execution.
Afghan Christians tell our local partners that they are afraid. They’re asking for our prayers and have even shared specific ways we can pray for them.
“For us, everything has been taken away,” says Saad*, a secret believer in Afghanistan. “We need you to ask God on our behalf.”
Below, we share seven prayers you can pray with our scared and suffering Afghan sisters and brothers. Take a minute each day this week to pray for one or more of these requests.
Saad’s wife, Fatimah*, reminds us: “When you pray [with us], you meet us in the room of God’s throne where we can have communion together.”
Prayers for Afghanistan and secret believers
1. Pray for the lawmakers.
Pray for the Taliban. Ask God to move in Turabi’s heart and the rest of the Taliban lawmakers Taliban sympathizers within the country have also expressed support for the adoption of these penalties. Pray for the lawmakers and implementers of the law to uphold and preserve human life.
Jesus Himself tells us to “pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 4:43-44 ):
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘Hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
2. Pray for the flow of information in the country.
More than a hundred media companies in Afghanistan] have reportedly ceased operations. In the months leading up to the Taliban takeover, many reporters have already fled for their lives, and those who have stayed are living in fear that reporting on sensitive information, such as the situation of women, could cost them everything. Pray that Afghanistan would not fall into news censorship and that citizens will continue to have access to reliable information. We can also pray against misinformation. Our field tells us that fake news stories about the situation of refugees and the underground church have been circulating in social media both inside and outside the country. Pray against the spread of lies that could endanger secret Christians even further.
3. Pray for the hungry.
Winter is coming, which exacerbates the already dire situation of Afghans on the cusp of starvation. The economy has virtually come to a standstill and food prices have skyrocketed. The World Food Program recently reported that 93 percent of Afghanistan’s people have not been getting enough food to eat. Ask God to have mercy and feed the hungry.
4. Pray for the sick.
The World Health Organization reports that all aspects of COVID-19 response have dropped in the country and that the health system is “on the brink of collapse.” According to the WHO report, 90 percent of the country’s healthcare facilities are at the risk of closing. Pray for the Lord’s provision over Afghanistan’s healthcare system and for His healing for all those who are sick.
5. Pray for the secret believers.
Saad* tells our local partners that he and his fellow Christians are already known to the Taliban: “The list has been circulated with our names on it,” he says. He mentions that in their secret network, all they could do is ask one another about how they are doing. “We call one another and ask about headaches, shoulder pain, injuries, old health concerns, all in a bid to remain connected,” he shares. “For now, this is all we can ask [each other].” Pray for protection for the believers who have been exposed to the Taliban and are already at risk of being killed. Pray for believers who are missing and their families as they search for their loved ones.
6. Pray for secret believers attempting to flee.
Though many believers have chosen to stay, some desperately want to flee and they face huge risks. Many Christians who want to flee are also without passports. Pray for the governments, ministries, and private individuals helping them to leave. Pray too that in this situation, where so many are choosing to leave, that the Lord will strengthen His church within Afghanistan in the midst of so much adversity. Pray that believers who have chosen to stay would continue to reflect the light of Christ.
7. Pray for Open Doors partners in the region and the global church.
Our local partners are working round the clock to meet with refugees and believers. Pray that they will be covered in the Lord’s protection and grace. Pray for their safe travels and for access to the right places and people. Pray for good partnerships with co-laborers. Pray for God’s peace to fill their hearts and for God’s love to flow through them as they minister to and come alongside Afghan refugees. Pray that they can step up to the plate of service and ask the Lord to bless them with energy, capacity, and faith. Pray for the church around the world to be prepared for Afghan refugees. Pray for God to open their hearts to receive refugees with warmth. Pray that as a wave of those seeking asylum make their way to new areas, the church would be able to reach them with the love and truth of Jesus Christ.
Aysha*, one our partners working with refugees, asks: “Pray that we can share the gospel with them and bring them to local churches. Please pray for the refugee women, for the Afghan people and for our ministry.”
*representative photo and names used for security reasons
Stand with secret believers in Afghanistan
Open Doors’ partners enable the church to remain a faithful witness where it’s dangerous to follow Jesus. Will you keep praying, and stand with your faith family in Afghanistan and the surrounding regions—not just for the urgent needs of today, but for tomorrow and the weeks and months to come? Your support today will go toward urgent relief and aid and long-term support for secret believers in the region.