2020 WORLD WATCH LIST #2AFGHANISTAN
2020 WORLD WATCH LIST RANK: 2
LEADER: President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai
POPULATION: 37.2 million
CHRISTIAN POPULATION: Thousands
MAIN RELIGION: Islam
PERSECUTION LEVEL: Extreme
PERSECUTION SOURCE: Islamic Oppression
Through local partners and churches, Open Doors supports the persecuted church in Afghanistan through:
• Encouragement, prayer, and presence ministry
• Pastoral care
• Literacy and vocational training
• Distribution of Christian materials
• Bible courses
• Emergency aid to victims of violent persecution
• Women’s ministry
• Trauma counseling
The ‘non-existent’ church
All Afghan Christians are converts from Islam and are not able to live out their faith openly. The church there is deeply underground and as far as the official view is concerned, it is non-existent. Leaving Islam is both illegal and shameful. Afghanistan is a tribal society, and loyalty to your family, clan and tribe are incredibly important. Islam is seen as part of Afghan identity, and leaving Islam is seen as a betrayal by families and communities.
World’s deadliest terror group
The country is increasingly challenged by Islamic militants. It has not known peace for more than 40 years. The Taliban, known as the deadliest terror group, controls or contests more and more areas, and the Islamic State group targets minorities.
Secrets in the family
Those who decide to follow Jesus in Afghanistan must do so in complete secret. If discovered, they may be sent to a mental hospital – their families believe no sane person would leave Islam. They may also be beaten or even killed by family members, or members of Islamic extremist groups like the Taliban. Even the mere suspicion of having converted to Christianity could result in death. Believers are cautious in telling their own children about their faith, especially if they are young, as the latter might inadvertently reveal the secret to others.
• Living openly as a Christian is not possible for Afghans as there may be deadly consequences. Pray that believers have the wisdom to show Christ to their loved ones despite the difficulties.
• For members of the Taliban and other extremist groups, that they will encounter Jesus, and see that He is truly the Son of God.
• For Christians to find ways to meet together for encouragement and to spur one another on in the faith.