Why Afghanistan Becomes No. 1 on World Watch List

Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Yemen top list of countries most at risk of deteriorating humanitarian crises in 2022. For the first time in 20 years, North Korea has been removed from its place at the very top of the World Watch List, which identifies the 50 places where it is most difficult to be a follower of Christ. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean things have gotten better for believers in North Korea. In fact, it’s gotten worse. This change means that persecution in Afghanistan has become more extreme. Yet even in the face of persecution, the number of believers continues to surge.

Afghanistan Taliban

Living in Fear

Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan’s government in August of 2021, persecution of Christians has dramatically increased. Believers are considered enemies of the state, traitors, and apostates. They are vehemently hated, both by the Taliban and by devout Muslims. Lists circulate with the names of potential Christians. By doing neighborhood sweeps, the Taliban hunt them down, one by one. 

Believers are also unable to access proper medical care, go shopping, or even leave their homes. Because of this, many have chosen to flee the country.

Standing Firm in the Face of Persecution

However, many believers have stayed. In the midst of these circumstances, those in the underground church who remain in Afghanistan continue to stand firm in their faith, no matter the repercussions. They don’t want to leave their friends and family without the hope and peace of Jesus.

One of our underground church leaders shares:

“I’m so thankful we don’t bail out. I’m seeing and hearing first-hand from our constituents, the followers of Jesus who can’t do simple everyday tasks like get their own groceries. Some of our constituents have watched family members be executed right in front of them. They don’t get to feel the sun on their skin whenever they wish. They’re holed up in a safe house, alone. 

They see how their former faith and government treats them and in the midst of their persecution, they’re still reaching out, asking more about this Jesus who showed up in the form of humanity. They could just reclaim Islam and denounce Christ, but they know the truth enough now and are willing to pay the price if they must. Thank God we have the opportunity to rescue the persecuted!”

Making Disciples in a Dark Place

Despite the constant threat of persecution by the Taliban, the underground church continues to thrive. Even though believers are under the oppressive rule of Islamic extremists, facing rape, torture, and execution, they are willing to hold fast to their faith and share the hope they have in Christ with others. They have chosen to present their bodies as living sacrifices to the Lord, listening and obeying his command to go and make disciples

As they live under the oppressive rule of the Taliban, people in Afghanistan are beginning to see the truth of what it means to follow Allah- chaos and bloodshed. There is something missing, a deep longing that Islam isn’t filling. The people of Afghanistan are becoming hungry for hope and peace.

The Lord is softening the hearts of the people. Jesus is appearing to people in dreams and visions, calling them to himself. God is performing miraculous healings, leaving the doctors and families in awe. And the Spirit is leading the people of the underground church to walk with those who are thirsting for more.

A Believer’s Story

“The people here are in so much despair, especially with the poverty all because of the Taliban. The difference between light and dark is so visible right now. There is a woman I have known for a year now, she is very strong willed, proud and has a difficult personality. She knows I am a Christian and I have shared with her about love. Today I saw her and she was very soft. This is what is happening; the people are seeing what is true and what is light. It is a good time, but a difficult time to be here.

We are seeing things in the street that are very scary and painful. I am trying to focus on the glory of God’s name, that is what helps me face each day. We are in the fire, and praying for fire. I am thankful for how God has led me. I want to be challenged to do difficult things when God asks me.”

Pray for the Underground Church

As the persecution in Afghanistan continues to escalate, our brothers and sisters need your prayers now more than ever. We invite you to join us in praying:

  • That God would soften the hearts of the Taliban leaders and draw them to himself
  • For believers to continue to meet together to pray and fast
  • That the Lord would raise up underground church leaders ready to share the hope of Jesus with family, friends, and neighbors
  • For believers to be able to disappear into the crowds as Jesus did and avoid being seen by the Taliban
  • For strength and perseverance in the face of persecution

Support the Underground Church

Despite the persecution these believers face, their numbers are growing rapidly to the glory of God. Because of your generosity, the Underground church is able to reach more and more people in a dark, dying world. Please join us in supporting the Underground leaders in Iran by becoming a monthly partner.

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We believe the Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, are inspired by God and are the revelation of God to man, the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct. (2 Timothy 3:15-17, 1 Peter 1:21)

We believe that there is one God, eternally existent who has revealed Himself as embodying the principles of relationship and association as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Deuteronomy 6:4, Luke 3:22)

We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father where He intercedes for us, in His present rule as Head of the Church, and in His personal return in power and glory. (Matthew 1:23, Luke 1:31)

We believe in the creation of mankind in God’s image, and the fall of man, resulting in universal guilt and total depravity; and the necessity, therefore, of redemption and restoration; that all men and women are lost spiritually and face the judgment of God, that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation, and that repentance of sin and faith in Jesus Christ is necessary for regeneration by the Holy Spirit. (Genesis 1:26-27, Genesis 2:17)

We believe salvation is received through repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, being justified by grace through faith, man becomes an heir of God, according to the hope of eternal life. (Luke 24:47, John 3:3)

We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; the saved unto the resurrection of eternal life in the presence of our Lord, and the lost unto the resurrection of damnation and eternal punishment. (Matthew 25:46, Mark 9:43-48)

We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ and that all true believers are members of His body, the Church, which has the duty to preach the Gospel to every person. (Ephesians 1:22-23, Ephesians 2:22)

We believe that we must dedicate ourselves to prayer, to the service of our Lord, to His authority over our lives, and to the ministry of teaching, preaching, the prophetic, the apostolic, and evangelism. (Ephesians 4:11-13)

We believe in upholding the ordinances of the church of water baptism and holy communion.

The ordinance of baptism by immersion is commanded by the Scriptures. All who repent and believe in Christ as Savior and Lord are to be baptized. Thus, they declare to the world that they have died with Christ and that they also have been raised with Him to walk in newness of life. (Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:16, Acts 10:47,48, Romans 6:4)

The Lord’s Supper, consisting of the elements—bread and the fruit of the vine—, is the symbol expressing our sharing the divine nature of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:4), a memorial of His suffering and death (1 Corinthians 11:26), and a prophecy of His second coming (1 Corinthians 11:26), and is enjoined on all believers “till He comes!”