Evangelical pastors in Afghanistan are in hiding. They have been told by the Taliban that their whereabouts are known and they will be sought out. One pastor wrote, “We can’t go out like normal. It’s dangerous. We moved to one of my friend’s houses, but it’s not safe at all.”
They are asking for prayers for physical protection, financial resources (no one can go to the banks and the ATMs are empty), spiritual provision (a pastor wrote, “Pray for me to be strong in my faith. It is really hard to stay here.”), and the advance of the Gospel.
Caritas Italiana is a charity of the Italian Catholic bishops that has been in Afghanistan since the 1990s. A statement issued by Caritas Italiana said that, “the instability of the situation will lead to a suspension of all activities. … fears are growing about the possibility of maintaining a presence even in the future, as well as well as for the safety of the few Afghans of Christian belief.” There are only about 200 Catholics in the entire country and a single Catholic Church, which is located in the Italian embassy in Kabul.
The few Christians in Afghanistan are in danger, especially their pastors and other leaders. Even before the takeover of the Taliban, being a Christian in the overwhelmingly Muslim country could mean being ostracized or at risk of suffering violence. There is no expectation that the Taliban will respect religious freedom for Christians or other religious minorities, or even more moderate Muslims. Under Sharia law, the penalty for a Muslim who converts to Christianity is death.
Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of Aid to the Church in Need, a charity of the Holy See, said, “Aid to the Church in Need encourages the international community to raise a voice in protection of human rights for all citizens of Afghanistan, especially considering that we estimate that religious freedom will be particularly under threat.” Heine-Geldern went on to add, “we can expect that Sunni Islam will be the official religion, Sharia law will be re-imposed, and hard-won freedoms for human rights, including a relative measure of religious freedom, over the last 20 years will be revoked.”
Regardless of what you think of the pull out of U. S. troops, the bottom line is the abandonment of Afghanistan by the U. S. has proved a disaster for innocent Afghans who had hoped to live the rest of their lives in a Western-style democracy, only to have their lives turned upside down over the course of one week by the takeover of their country by a radical Islamic terrorist organization. The Christians in Afghanistan, of all traditions, need our prayers and support.