To an average American like myself, all 20 of the men in the room looked like members of Afghanistan’s infamous Taliban. Some were even wearing turbans. We sat silently on the rug-covered floor, leaning against cold walls, waiting for our meal to be served. I was feeling a little bit uncomfortable, an odd American, likely one of the few Westerners who’d ever ascended the long valley that led to their remote mountain village, 10,000 feet above sea level.
The silence was broken when an older man suddenly asked my interpreter what I believed. He answered, “He believes in our previous books,” to which the old man approvingly replied, “Then he is a man of the Book.”
Muslims believe that Allah gave the Old and New Testaments, but they are taught that both were corrupted. The Bible has been abrogated by the Koran, which Muslims believe is God’s final and uncorrupted revelation.
Early in Muhammad’s career, Allah instructed him to respect and live peaceably with “people of the Book,” that is, Jews and Christians, as they were followers of Allah’s earlier revelations and were not rank pagans. Later in his career, however, Allah of Islam began instructing Muhammad and his followers to kill Jews and Christians.
The world’s moderate Muslims tend to subscribe to Muhammad’s earlier revelations regarding how to treat “people of the Book,” whereas radical Muslims tend to believe that those earlier revelations have been abrogated by the later ones. I was thankful to find myself among Afghan Muslims who were moderate (and I lived to tell about it)!
Heaven’s Family is now at work in Afghanistan, but I’m limited regarding what I can share in this magazine. I can tell you that, through our Persecuted Christians Fund, we’re facilitating the advance of God’s kingdom (1) through some village development projects that will serve the “least of these” and open doors for the gospel, (2) through sponsorship of an Afghan evangelist, and (3) through funding a safe house where new converts can be discipled.
Afghanistan is more than 99% Muslim. The tiny minority of Christians are all converts from Islam, and they generally keep their faith secret, knowing the danger they would face if discovered. Last year, an Afghan Minister of Parliament called for the execution of all converts to Christianity. Open Doors ranks Afghanistan as the 5th most difficult country in which to be a Christian.
Although Muslims consider Jesus to be a prophet and miracle worker who was born of a virgin and who will one day return, they do not believe He is God or God’s Son. Governmental, tribal, traditional and familial pressures make it hard for anyone in Afghanistan to consider any spiritual options outside of Islam.
As I looked around the room that day thinking about how difficult it would be for any of those 20 men to escape the spiritual darkness that envelopes them, I encouraged myself, remembering another meeting I’d been at a few days earlier. It was a secret gathering of house church leaders who have all counted the cost. Their meeting was literally held underground in a basement, with thick foam rubber covering the windows to prevent neighbors from seeing them or hearing their singing and reporting them to the authorities. Somehow, God had reached them and those in the secret churches that they serve, penetrating the darkness with the glorious light of Christ. So there is hope.
Please help us shine more light in Afghanistan.