Our 30 days of prayer for the Muslim world during Ramadan has ended, but the Muslim world is still much on my heart and in my prayers. Today, a friend directed me to a fascinating article published in the New York Times (of all places!), about Afghan converts to Christianity who have fled to India for safety.
I’d like to encourage you to read it and pray!
Here’s an excerpt:
Between 200 and 250 Afghan converts from Islam to Christianity who feared persecution from the Afghan authorities and the Taliban have found refuge in Delhi.
“The number of coverts to Christianity increased as the U.S. presence increased after the fall of the Taliban,” said Obaid Jan, 33, the pastor, who led the Bible service. “Most of the Christian converts lived in urban areas, so the threat from the Taliban was minimal,” he added.
But the Christian converts started fleeing Afghanistan around 2005, fearing their identities might become public. Most came to India after video footage of their secret churches found its way to Noorin TV, a Kabul-based television network, in May 2009. Their lives were further endangered in 2010, when an influential member of the lower house of the Afghan parliament, Abdul Sattar Khawasi, called for the converts’ execution.
“The Afghans who appeared in this video should be publicly executed,’’ said Mr. Khawasi. “The House should order the attorney general and the N.D.S.’’ – the National Directorate of Security – “to arrest these Afghans and execute them.”
The video showed the faces and the locations of Christian converts. “It put everyone in danger including the rest of our families who were Muslims,” said Pastor Jan, who used to work for a non-governmental organization in Kabul.
What started him on his road to Christianity, he said, was distress over infighting between different Muslim factions in Afghanistan.
“Everybody in Afghanistan claimed to be a true Muslim and kept fighting,” he said. “I couldn’t find a single Muslim in them.”
Then he met some Christian missionaries working in Afghanistan. “The fact that God has given his son to his followers in Christianity is what attracted me towards the religion,” he added.
Pastor Jan left his parents in 2007 after he received a number of threats to his life from Muslim Afghans. His family did not approve of his new religion. “The families of many converts became very hostile when they learned about their conversions,” he added.
Heavenly Father, we thank You that You are drawing people to faith even in the most hostile places in the world. Thank you for those who serve You as bold witnesses in dangerous lands, and thank You for those in Afghanistan, whose hearts You have prepared good soil, so that they have responded to the Word of God when it was proclaimed to them. Father we ask for Your grace and provision for those Afghan believers who have fled for refuge to India. May they continue in their witness, and may they grow as a church. We also pray for those who remain behind in Afghanistan. Encourage, strengthen and protect them, we pray, in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen!