August , 2022 AFGHANISTAN: Light in the Midst of Darkness
When the Taliban gained control over the governance of Afghanistan a year ago, many organizations were forced to shut down their in-country operations and thousands of believers decided to leave because of the suffering they knew would be coming as a result. Many other Christians, however, chose to remain in the country to be witnesses for Christ despite the severe danger.
At the time of the takeover, the Taliban assured the world that the basic rights of Afghans would be respected. However, that was quickly proven false, particularly for women who have now been restricted from working, receiving a proper education, and even leaving their homes without the presence of a male relative to accompany them. In May, the governing leaders of the Taliban dissolved the country's human rights commission, stating that it was "not considered necessary." This decision removed the only institution where human rights concerns could be raised by citizens.
Despite the oppression, some Christians in Afghanistan have found opportunities to reach out with the Gospel by serving the needs of people suffering under severe economic hardships. Several Christian organizations are also bringing the hope of Christ into the nation through multimedia technology. Recently, Closer to the Fire podcast host Greg Musselman interviewed Shoaib Ebadi to discuss the difficulties facing those in the country and how his guest's organization is reaching Afghan people with the Good News of Jesus.
Please intercede for the Christians residing in Afghanistan, asking God to provide them the strength and help they need during this very difficult time. As these remaining Afghan believers reach out to others in their communities who are struggling, may they receive opportunities to "give an answer...for the hope that [they] have" (1 Peter 3:15). Pray that the Lord will also bless and multiply the efforts of ministries that are endeavouring to reach into the country with the Gospel message. May they receive the insight and wisdom required to maximize their ministry work, so that God's Word will be well-received and, therefore, spiritually impact many lives for eternity.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Believers Caught Between Fighting
For many years, the people of the Central African Republic have endured civil war as rebel groups fought against the ruling government. To further complicate the situation, two major factions in the conflict are the predominantly Muslim Séléka group and a primarily Christian group known as the anti-balaka militias. Both of these rival groups are strongly influenced by animism and ongoing tribal conflicts, but the troubles include tensions between Islam and Christianity.
While rival factions battle for control of the country, the present state of the government is, in many ways, nonfunctional. Human rights observers categorize the conflict presently taking place between the animistic Christians and Muslim groups as “religious persecution.” However, Todd Nettleton from The Voice of the Martyrs USA provides beneficial insight that more accurately identifies the nation's true victims of persecution:
"Caught in-between those two [faction] groups are our Christian brothers and sisters – the 'Biblical' disciples,” he explains. “They are persecuted, their homes are destroyed, and thousands of them have been displaced." For more information on this country, and/or to read about specific incidents of persecution, go to our country report.
Prayerfully ask the Lord to grant Christian leaders within this war-torn African nation wisdom, knowledge and discernment as they serve as instruments of God's compassion, provision and peace. Also pray on behalf of all the believers who desire to be true followers of Jesus, asking Him to grant them the grace and strength to stand firm in their faith so they can be powerful witnesses to the multitudes around them. May the peace and hope of Christ not only reign in these persecuted believers' lives but also greatly influence the spiritual and political aspects of the nation.
IRAQ: Oppression of Iraqi BelieversSources: International Christian Concern, Open Doors
A recent report from the American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East highlights the desperate circumstances facing many Iraqi Christians – both those residing in their country as well as those living as refugees. Over the past two decades, 80 percent of the nation's Christians, which amounts to over one million people, have left the country and chosen not to return.
Iraqi Christians presently living as refugees are often barred from working because of their refugee status, and their children are severely lacking in educational opportunities. Additionally, believers remaining in the country are seriously affected by persecution from their fellow Iraqis, as well as those holding positions of governing authority.
In northern Iraq, the Kurdish people face bombing attacks as Turkish forces endeavour to suppress perceived nationalist interests in Kurdistan; yet another example of how Christians residing in a war-torn region are caught in the midst of the cross-fighting. In central and southern Iraq, Christians frequently face harassment and discrimination in their workplaces, universities and governmental institutions. Those suspected of conducting any means of evangelistic outreach to Muslims can be subjected to blasphemy charges.
To learn more about the persecution of Christians in Iraq, read previously posted reports, and/or view video documentaries addressing specific situations, go to our country report.
Pray that Iraqi believers will be so endued with God's presence in their lives that they will shine as 'lights of the world' (Matthew 5:14), whether living within their home country or elsewhere as refugees. May those presently facing persecution also find strength and comfort through the ministry of His Holy Spirit. Finally, pray that the offensive of Türkiye's armed forces (formerly known as Turkey) against the Kurds will subside, bringing peace to this war-torn region as well.