As the Taliban takes control of Afghanistan, our source in the region tells us that in Kabul, the country’s capitol, Taliban fighters are going door-to-door looking for anyone whom they view as a threat to their hardline Islamic regime: anyone who collaborated with the West (especially teachers) during the occupation of Afghanistan, but also members of the LBGTQ+ community and non-Muslims. Because Afghanistan is an Islamic state by constitution, other religions such as Christianity are seen as alien.
“Christians are in grave danger,” says Jan Vermeer, Open Doors communications director to Asia. “Anybody who is exposed will be severely punished.”
Get regular updates about the persecuted church
Subscribe to prayer reminders, event messages, etc.
With more than 36 million Muslims and only several thousand Christians in Afghanistan, believers are up against persecution from both their new government and tribal society.
Afghan believers are asking us to stand in solidarity with them through our prayers.
“Every fellow believer I speak to asks for only one thing,” our source shares. “Prayer. That’s genuinely the only thing they ask for. All earthly protection was taken from them. Only Emmanuel is left: Jesus with us.” Below, we share 15 specific prayers for the country and from secret believers inside it.
15 specific ways to pray for Afghan believers:
1. Pray for God’s embrace to be felt by believers in Afghanistan who are scared, waiting for the knock on their door.
2. Pray for believers who have lost loves ones in the recent bombing and attacks by the Islamic state group—and in other attacks over the last decade. Father, we ask for Your Holy Spirit to comfort them in their grief and heal those who have been injured in these attacks. Our source shares: “Attacks such as these have always been a reality for us,” our source says. “It’s not a matter of if, but when, and when it comes, we are almost never ready to contend with what’s before our eyes. It’s always a terrifying thought—we are afraid—but it is only by the grace and mercy of God that we are able to go on.”
3. Pray for those believers who want to flee or who have been able to leave, that God would grant them safe passage as they become refugees in another land. Many have left with little to nothing as they seek safety in another country.
4. Pray for those who are staying where they are, either voluntarily or involuntarily. “Everybody is afraid, and Christians are responding differently,” Vermeer says. “Some are trying to escape the country—or have already fled—while others have decided to stay and remain secret believers. Some want to escape but can’t. Some don’t know what to do.” Ask God to give believers His courage, comfort, hope and peace that transcends all our human understanding. Father, hide them under Your wing. May Your children in Afghanistan dwell in You, Lord.
5. The Taliban have made it clear they will implement no other law but Shariah. During their rule in the 1990s, the group ruled with an extreme interpretation of Shariah law, imposing brutal rules for women and instituting violent punishments on so-called infidels, including believers who had left Islam to follow Christ. Pray God would intervene and that Christians and other religious minorities would not be persecuted.
6. Pray that God would thwart and confuse the evil plans of extremist groups like the Islamic State group and ISIS-K, as well as the Taliban. Pray for the safety of Christians and for strength to remain faithful in the midst of current and future persecution.
7. Pray for Saul-to-Paul conversions of extremists. Ask God to give both visions and dreams to persecutors and reveal Himself—that they, like Paul, would see the power and love of Christ.
8. Pray for female believers who live with the fear of kidnapping, rape and forced marriage. As the Taliban begins to shrink women’s rights nationwide, Christian girls and women are doubly vulnerable to persecution for their gender and faith. Pray that Afghan women would be protected and honored.
9. Pray for the drought and COVID-19 that continue to ravage the country and make life increasingly difficult for Afghans. Ask God to provide aid and medicine—hidden manna—to those believers whose families and tribes refuse to help them because they have left Islam to follow Jesus.
10. There are no church buildings in Afghanistan and many Christians are cut off from underground networks of believers. They feel isolated and unsure whom to trust. Pray the secret church there would grow in unity and in numbers.
11. Pray for those Christians who are in hiding from their families and are fearful of being betrayed and turned into the Taliban. Islamic families in Afghanistan are compelled to save the family honor by forcing believers to reconvert to Islam. If these efforts are unsuccessful, Christians may be disowned, banished, abused, kidnapped or even killed.
12. Afghanistan is one of the largest exporters of drugs. Pray that as the Taliban takes control of the country, the drug trade would not worsen and that Christ would break the power of corruption and drugs. Pray that Afghan Christians’ lives of character and obedience would be beacons of hope.
13. Thank God for the Afghans who listen to Christian radio stations or download Christian materials from the Internet. Pray that God would strengthen and change lives as the Word is preached through these media outlets.
14. Pray that God will raise up servant leaders among indigenous believers to work for Christ’s Kingdom by praying, preaching the Word, and making disciples. Pray for protection and opportunities to find fellow Christians.
15. Pray that God would strengthen the worldwide Church to pray with the secret church in Afghanistan. Ask God to continue to bring our Afghan family to our minds and hearts in the weeks, months and years ahead. Father, we pray that our sisters and brothers in Afghanistan would be encouraged through our prayers, that they would know they’re not alone but instead are supported by the worldwide Body of Christ.
Brother Sam*, Open Doors Field Director for Asia notes the uncertainty Christians in Afghanistan feel right now—and the perilous situation they’re facing. “It’s absolutely dangerous,” he says. “We don’t know what the next months will bring, what kind of implementation of Shariah law we will see, but we continue to ask you to intercede for our brothers and sisters. They are facing insurmountable adversity. We must pray without ceasing.”
Our partners in the region sent this prayer (based on Psalm 57:1-5) to help guide your petitions before God:
Have mercy on them, my God, have mercy on them, for in You they take refuge. They will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. We cry out to God Most High, to God, who vindicates us. He sends from heaven and saves, rebuking those who hotly pursue. God sends forth his love and his faithfulness. Your children in Afghanistan are in the midst of lions, forced to dwell among ravenous beasts. Men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be over all the earth. Amen.
Photo copyright: IMB.org; illustrative image
*Name changed for security reasons
Afghanistan in Crisis
Join the response for persecuted believers in crisis