A farmer and his family live in the Afghan countryside. He is quietly Christian, having been discipled for several years through contact with a Christian radio station broadcasting into Afghanistan, since there is no church in his area. Recently, town elders urged him to give his 16-year-old daughter to a Taliban warrior, explaining he would be handsomely rewarded. His daughter said she would sooner kill herself. The farmer reasoned that he could join the resistance against the Taliban, flee and lose his land, or stay and lose his daughter.
“It is a very common scenario for Christians in Afghanistan,” says Voice of the Martyrs Korea Representative Dr. Hyun Sook Foley. “Afghan Christians who had foreign connections have now fled the country. Those who remain must learn to live out their faith under a new regime that demands they surrender it.”
What did the farmer choose to do?
“He quickly married his daughter to a relative,” says Representative Foley. “He had previously discussed this option with his relatives, since life has been difficult and dangerous for Christians in Afghanistan for many years. The 2004 Constitution recognized Islam as the official religion of Afghanistan. The recent Taliban takeover didn’t shut down church buildings. There were no church buildings there to begin with.”
Representative Foley says that Voice of the Martyrs Korea partners with a Christian media ministry that has continued its radio broadcasts and other media outreaches into Afghanistan even after the Taliban takeover. She says they continue to receive messages daily from Christians who are seeking guidance in how to live out their faith in a Taliban-controlled state.
“Some are resolute in their faith. Some are wavering. Some, frankly, have lost hope. The most common message we are currently hearing from Christians across Afghanistan is: ‘We praise God that there has been no widescale bloodshed or destruction.’ But they wonder how long the peace will last. And they are unclear how to live as Christians under even stricter Islamic rule.”
Representative Foley shared some of the most recent messages from listeners who contacted the VOMK-sponsored Christian media ministry:
- “I am ready to die for Jesus, but I don’t want to die unknown.”
- “No one has any answer. There is NO hope left.”
- “I joined a militia group, but we got no support. We had to flee. Now I’m sleeping in a mosque.”
- “We’re waiting to be slaughtered.”
Afghan Christians are seeking guidance in how to live out their faith in a Taliban-controlled state.
“Most of the Christians who fled were the leaders,” says Representative Foley. “They were the ones who felt they were in the most immediate danger, and they were the ones with the best connections with foreigners who could help them leave the country.”
But Representative Foley says it would be a mistake to underestimate or pity the Christians who remain. “It’s a familiar story in Christian history, whether it be the Boxer Rebellion in China or Christians fleeing North Korea for the south when Kim Il Sung came to power: Missionaries and local Christian leaders are forced to flee, and the new regime assumes that the remainder are so weak and disorganized that they can be swept away quickly. But the remainder clings to Christ because he is all they have, and he shepherds and protects them and helps them grow. The church ends up stronger, bolder, and bigger than before.”
She expects a similar outcome in Afghanistan. “The Lord didn’t flee Afghanistan. His word can still be heard there every day on the radio. We will continue to support Christian radio broadcasting and media ministry into Afghanistan, because radio and media are presently the most practical and powerful way for the Lord’s people to hear the Lord’s voice inside Afghanistan. The Taliban defeated the Afghan government, not the Afghan church. The gates of hell will not prevail against the church there or in North Korea or China or anywhere else.”
Donations to VOMK’s Afghanistan Christian media ministry can be made at www.vomkorea.com/en/donation or via electronic transfer to:
국민은행 (KB Bank): 463501-01-243303
예금주(Account Holder): (사)순교자의소리
Please indicate “Afghanistan” on the donation.
For more information on Afghan Christians, please visit https://vomkorea.com/en/country-profile/AFGHANISTAN/.