Every Christian in Afghanistan ‘On the Run or in Hiding’

Afghanistan is the most dangerous country in the world for Christians, according to Open Doors USA’s most recent World Watch List. It is the first time in 20 years that North Korea was not listed in first place on the watchdog’s persecution index.

The 2022 list was released this week at a virtual press conference, where Open Doors CEO David Curry revealed “the most seismic changes in the history of our research”. Curry explained that Afghanistan took top place because persecution there has grown worse, not because of any improvements in North Korea.

According to Curry, every Christian who stayed in Afghanistan following the chaotic withdrawal of Western powers in August 2021 “is either on the run or in hiding.”

The 50 Hardest Places to Follow Jesus

The influential World Watch List ranks the 50 places in the world where it is most difficult to follow Jesus. Open Doors has determined that in the top ten countries — Afghanistan, North Korea, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Eritrea, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran and India — Christians suffer “extreme” levels of persecution.

In the remaining 40 nations, the “pressure, intolerance and violence” Christians can experience is “very high”.

David Curry said that the 2022 World Watch list “shows that 360 million Christians globally now suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination. That’s one in seven Christians worldwide.”

Most of the countries on the index are located in Asia and Africa, where Islamic oppression, religious nationalism, dictatorial paranoia, and communist or post-communist oppression are common sources of persecution.

According to the 2022 report, almost 6,000 Christians were killed for their faith during the last year, while over 5,000 churches and Christian buildings were attacked. Over 6,000 believers were detained without trial, arrested or imprisoned for their faith.

The Persecution of Believers in Afghanistan

In a U.S. State Department report released in 2009, there were an estimated 500 to 8,000 Christians practicing their faith secretly in Afghanistan. The only physical church in the country before the Taliban took control last year was a Roman Catholic chapel for expatriates in the Italian Embassy.

David Curry recounts that “shortly after the Taliban seized control, a list was circulated with the names of prominent Christians. Somehow, this list fell into the hands of the Taliban.” He added that “those listed were among the first to be hunted.”

“The Taliban’s interpretation of Islam considers Christians to be traitors, enemies of the state, enemies of the tribe and community,” he explains. “They are infidels from Islam, and in their mind, the punishment is death.”

Curry believes that the Taliban’s recapturing of Afghanistan has not just intensified persecution there, but has sparked a rise in Islamic extremism across the region.

As the Daily Declaration noted in August last year, it is not just Christians who now suffer in Afghanistan, but Muslim women and children too.

A Call to Boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics

A prominent emphasis for Open Doors is prayer. In conduction with their release of 2022’s World Watch List, the organisation has made available to the public a booklet called “52 Weeks of Prayer for Persecuted Christians”. The booklet can be downloaded here.

In addition to prayer, Open Doors’ CEO has urged Christians to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics scheduled to begin in Beijing this February. Curry highlighted the upcoming games as “one example of how China is using sports, money and investment in infrastructure around the world to whitewash their human rights violations.”

China ranked 17th on this year’s World Watch List, and Curry devoted a significant portion of the press release to discussing the religious persecution taking place there at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.

“Open Doors USA … is calling on every Christian to join this boycott of the Olympics in the name of our persecuted brothers and sisters in China,” he said.

The 2022 World Watch List can be viewed at the Open Doors website.

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1 thought on “Every Christian in Afghanistan ‘On the Run or in Hiding’

  1. June Adams

    1/26/22 Wednesday’s Scripture John 8:12 “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

    (If Jesus is the light of the world there must be an opposite, and there is – darkness. God has given man the ability to create light – lights to shine in our living quarters, street-lights to shine on dark thoroughfares and lights to flood dark cities. But even a small, centralized storm can remove man’s light leaving total blackness where chaos and confusion take control. That is the way of the world’s light, we can depend on it only as long as nothing interferes. But Jesus, the light of the world will never fail. That power is not man made; at creation God said “Let there be light, and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness” (Gen. 1:3). That good light gave good health and the satisfaction that man was living in God’s beautiful world, where peace and joy surrounded, but God had an enemy who wanted that perfect world for himself and through his evil of darkness with deceit, his plan permeated God’s perfect world through an innocent man’s option, a man and his wife who did not yet know the difference between good and evil, (Gen. 3), so it became necessary for each man to make his own choice. God did not make some men evil and some good, we were all created in his image, but some will choose to live in the glitter and darkness of the devil’s world that tries to hide evil and sin. But our Creator understood human weakness, knowing that there was only one solution for overcoming the temptation of the darkness of evil that every man faced. He knew that there must be a light bright enough to separate evil men from good and so he did what was necessary, ”He gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). That light came as a baby born in the most unlikely place of a stable, sleeping in a manger yet still radiating light to an unbelieving world. But he did not come as many expected, as a conqueror to overcome evil, that still remained man’s choice. God’s precious Son came to give his life to offer to each of us the opportunity to live forever in his light, or forever in eternal blackness without the hope of ever seeing light again. That one and only Son Jesus Christ died to give hope to each of us: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” We must each ask ourselves “Are we living in that light or have we allowed the lure of the world to cast a shadow over reflecting our Lord’s light with power and invitation? Never forget “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he (Jesus) is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:7,8). We have been given armor and power from God’s Holy Spirit living in us (Eph. 6) to stand against any evil that tries to destroy our faith! Let always be certain we are following our Lord Jesus Christ because “The weapons that we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:4). Let us live bathed in his light to see evil men overcome by righteousness just as we were!)


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