Giovanna here (not my real name, for security reasons…)
I am going to be blogging about Afghanistan. I used to live there. In fact I have lived there over 2 different periods of Afghan history. The first time I used to say it is a place I would like to stay in forever but at the same time, I would like to get on a plane tomorrow! The second time I really didn’t want to return (it is not an easy place to live, work and minister and I was older with far less energy) but I really felt it was what God wanted. So the second period was certainly the most challenging period of my life.
God surely loves and cares about the Afghan people
I am still in a support role for Afghanistan but based in the UK. I really want to find more Christians who will go to live, work and minister in Afghanistan. Since 2014, when foreign troops first started to leave, the security situation has become worse and more unpredictable. Many expats left, and it is harder to find people willing to go. But God surely loves and cares about the Afghan people. NGOs continue to work there, in fact there are many humanitarian agencies helping people with their physical, economical and emotional needs. God also cares about their spiritual needs.
There are many Afghans who have migrated to different countries of the world, where they are easier to reach, but others do not have the funds or the ability to leave.
Number of believers is unknown
Afghanistan is 99% Muslim with few Christian believers percentage wise. No one knows how many though figures between 1,500 and 15,000 are often quoted. Certainly there are more than there were 20/30 years ago. Now there are some whole families who are believers and networks of believers. There are certainly Christians in the Afghan diaspora and a few return and work in country as expats wanting to help their country of birth. There are also ministries run by Afghan believers, based out of country, some of which reach back into Afghanistan through various media.
Observing Christians lives has an impact
Many Muslims in country have been living and working alongside expat believers for many years yet they show no outward interest in the Gospel. Sometimes it is hard to know what, if anything, is going on internally but testimonies from those who have become believers sometimes demonstrate that they have been struggling for years with what they have heard and seen in the lives of Christians so we need to continue in relationships and taking opportunities. Some do decide to follow Jesus. Some are actively seeking to know God but have only what they have been taught in Islam to guide them.
Afghan believers are almost always secret believers
In Afghanistan for a Muslim to become a Christian is not allowed as taught in the Koran and converts out of Islam are considered apostates and this is punishable by death. As a result Afghan believers are almost always secret believers. This does not mean every family would want this punishment for their relation but many would. Huge shame and disgust is felt at the tremendous sin they perceive has happened when someone converts. Sharing of faith by Afghan believers to their Muslims friends and family, and by expat Christians, has to be done carefully. Far more dangerous for the Afghan of course. Expats can leave the country if things go wrong.
An offer to pray is always welcome
One to one situations in language lessons and even one to one work meetings can often be good times for conversation. Questions can come up suddenly with friends and colleagues when people are facing personal difficulties. Praying for people is always possible. No one rejects a personal prayer for them or their family.
Currently it is Ramadan, the fasting month, when Muslims believe they have a chance of gaining greater blessing from God. I will share about that in my next post. I am looking forward to this blogging journey…