The Taliban Rise to Power and the Underground Church’s Response 2021

rise of taliban underground church

The Taliban, defined in the Pashto language as ’students’ or ‘seekers’, are an ultra conservative religious-political movement and military organization. Currently declaring to be the legitimate government of Afghanistan, the Taliban retain de facto control over the country. The group is known for their enforcement of strict Islamic Sharia Law, and mainly consists of students from the Pashtun areas of eastern and southern Afghanistan who had been educated in traditional Islamic schools and fought during the Soviet-Afghan war.

The Taliban have long been condemned for the rigid enforcement of their viewpoint of Islamic Sharia law, which has resulted in the callous treatment of many Afghans. During their rule from 1996 to 2001, they prohibited music using instruments, recreational activities and media including paintings, photography, and movies that depicted any living thing. Men were required to grow beards and women had to wear a burqa, a long, loose garment covering the whole body from head to feet.

The Taliban prevented girls and young women from attending school, banned women from working jobs outside of healthcare (male doctors were prohibited from treating women), and required that women be accompanied by a male relative and wear the burqa at all times when in public. If women broke certain rules, they were publicly whipped or executed. Religious and ethnic minorities were heavily discriminated against during Taliban rule as well. While the Taliban controlled Afghanistan, they and their allies committed carnage against Afghan civilians, denied food supplies to 160,000 starving civilians, and burnt vast areas of land destroying tens of thousands of homes.


In mid 2021, the Taliban led a major offensive during the withdrawal of US troops from the country, which gave them control of over half of Afghanistan by July. By mid-August 2021, the Taliban controlled every major city in Afghanistan. Their sudden advance forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes, many arriving in the Afghan capital, Kabul, others heading for neighboring countries. As of September 7, the Taliban appointed Mohammad Hasan Akhund, a close aide to the group’s late founder Mullah Omar, as head of Afghanistan’s new government.

The group has promised an “inclusive” government that represents Afghanistan’s complex ethnic makeup – though women will not be included, as they’ve recently announced that women will not be allowed to work. It seems as though the new Taliban-controlled government will again infringe upon human rights. Akhund told Afghans the new leadership would ensure “lasting peace, prosperity and development”, adding that “people should not try to leave the country”. The Taliban’s targets, however, (journalists, judges, peace activists, women in positions of power) suggest that they have not at all changed their radical ideology.

Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.”

Isaiah 12:2


“Yes, things are changing in the country, and they are telling us about their new laws. For now, they will allow the people who are in the University to finish, but they will put up a curtain to divide boys and girls, as the girls need to go with their hijab or covering their whole face. At least they get to finish. And the streets have been really different.

They have been taking the people that have stolen things and cutting their hands and feet. We have seen that in local news. They are also enforcing their law very fast; faster than I’ve ever seen. It feels to me like a new country. On a positive, it has been really exciting to meet other Christians here in this time.

Our hearts have been more connected because they see we have not abandoned them. I am meeting many believers that have been very afraid. There was a man that was upset because he thought we would leave, but then to see us still here, he was so happy. I have been telling him, ‘We are family’, for a long time and now he can see what that means and it is true. He told me how much it meant to know that I could have left, but I chose to stay with them. I am so thankful to be used by God this way. So there is pain and joy right now. God hasn’t left.

There is no need to fear what the Taliban are doing. Yes, bad things may happen to us as the church, but God will do something and glorify His name. If something bad happens to me, I will remember God and how He works miracles. In the Bible, He miraculously hid people in danger, and other times He allowed them to be beaten and killed. I trust God and I am meeting many believers that have been very afraid. It is a very special time, I still cry every day and struggle to sleep, but I have so much joy. The light of God is so visible, and it is piercing Islam.”

Help support our underground leaders and families in Afghanistan by donating. 100% of your donation will go toward getting basic supplies (food, water, shelter) to fellow believers in Afghanistan.

Download our new Afghanistan prayer guide for specific prayer points for our leaders and for the region.

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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!”