A convoy of 100+ Christians, including at least fifteen families, will leave Afghanistan to make a new life in Pakistan. It is not a hospitable country for Christians, but Afghanistan has become much worse with the Taliban in charge. Leaders of house churches have already received threatening letters from the Taliban, warning them that they know where they are and what they are doing. They are ‘on a list.’ The convoy is being led by a pastor who serves ten Afghan house churches. He was a Muslim until his life was turned around when someone shared the Gospel with him. The ages of the people in this convoy range from three months to 70 years. There are no buses, no trains running between Afghanistan and Pakistan: so this convoy will be taking, for lack of a better word, taxis. Ask God to give them strength and ask Him to frustrate the plans of any wanting to stop them.
Pastor Samuel lived in the north of Burkina Faso but had to flee from extremist attacks on his church and members of the Christian community. ‘We don’t know who the attackers are, nor do we know who is sponsoring them,’ he said. ‘All we know is that they attack Christians. These attacks have shattered the lives of our people. We are troubled and filled with pain over the deaths of our family members.’ There are no open churches in parts of the northeast. Pastor Samuel lives in a camp for internally displaced people, praying with others there and encouraging them to not lose hope. Open Doors estimates there are over a million internally displaced people, and many are Christians. Believers who have converted from Islam also face significant pressure and opposition from their communities. Families may reject Christian converts, and new believers may be pressured to renounce their new faith.
Israel’s foreign minister, Yair Lapid, has called the Biden administration’s plan to reopen the US consulate in Jerusalem a ‘bad idea’ that could ‘destabilize’ Israel’s new government. He said it would send the wrong message not only to the region or to the Palestinians, but also to other countries, adding, ‘We don’t want this to happen’. His comments come after Biden reportedly discussed the issue with Israel’s ultraconservative prime minister, Naftali Bennett, last week at the White House. The Times of Israel cited unnamed officials as saying the Biden administration agreed to wait to open the consulate until after Bennett’s fragile new government passes a budget in November.
As the Taliban secures its grip on Afghanistan, UN Security Council officials are warning that the militant group is reliant on drug trafficking as its primary sources of financing, and opium poppy production has increased significantly. They also said the problem of production of poppy-based drugs and methamphetamine was ‘unaddressed’ by the Afghan peace process, even though it remains the Taliban’s largest single source of income. Opium has a destabilising and corrupting effect within Afghanistan and contributes significantly to the narcotics challenges facing the wider international community. Taliban financing is also sourced by other criminal activities including extortion, kidnapping for ransom, mineral exploitation, and revenues from tax collection in areas under their control or influence. The UN office of drugs and crime estimates that taxes collected from drug farmers alone were about $14.5 million, while another $46 to $98 million comes in from heroin manufacturing and trafficking.
At least 30 Christians in India’s Uttar Pradesh have recently been falsely accused of forced religious conversions. This was triggered after Hindu nationalists, including members of the BJP party, claimed two Muslim men forcefully converted 1,000 people. BJP politicians publicly praised the arrests and warned against fraudulent conversions of Hindus to other faiths. Now Christians in Uttar Pradesh are being attacked by radical Hindu nationalists justifying their assaults by falsely accusing the Christians of illegal conversions. Similar anti-conversion laws and abuse of Christians are being enacted in eight other states. ‘This is a grave situation for Christians. ‘There is zero response from the Yogi administration. The attacks are mainly perpetrated by hardcore Hindutva activists who enjoy the support of the politicians’, said a church leader, who requested anonymity.
There are many smart, educated women who could drive Japan out of its economic slump to a stunning economic recovery, but the rigid hiring system and male-dominated leadership block women from the best-paid jobs. Japan risks becoming a nation of bored housewives with university degrees. Parliament declared it would significantly increase the number of women in leadership by 2020, but the deadline quietly came and went without getting close to its target. Critics believe the aim had little to do with women thriving at work and more to do with an acute need for workers. The working-age population has been rapidly shrinking since the 1990s. Many women are stuck in part-time or dead-end roles which pay 40% lower than men. Companies are reluctant to have more women in their workforces, but the drive for change could come from international companies hiring graduates with gender equality.
Incredibly, many believe Afghanistan has the second-fastest growing church in the world, next to Iran. There are reports of Afghan Christians choosing to stay and share the gospel, saying, ‘we don’t care, we’re here because we love this nation, we love our people, and we’re going to share the gospel regardless, even if it means losing our lives.’ In one village that was taken over a few weeks ago, the Christians started sharing Bible stories with the Taliban, some of whom have been studying the Bible and praying. They haven’t made a confession of faith yet but seem very interested. The fearless nature of these believers reminds us of those in the Book of Revelation: ‘They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. They did not love their lives unto death.’ We are seeing this in real time.
The past twenty years in Afghanistan’s history have seen the birth of a Spirit-filled Church. God has been anointing Christians to grow in maturity and numbers. In twenty years thousands of Muslims have converted to Christianity. Linguists have translated the Bible into various languages, and missionaries have taken God’s Word to unreached people groups. Many believe that this mission work and evangelism have been preparing and strengthening the nation for the years ahead in what looks to be a new season. In 2021 the world has become aware, like never before, of the number of Christians in Afghanistan and now, sadly, the danger they are in. This has led to mighty waves of much-needed prayer and financial support being released for our Afghan brothers and sisters, at a time when they desperately need it. See also the praise article ‘Bold Afghan Christians share gospel with Taliban’.