Christian TV broadcaster SAT-7 has appealed for prayer for Afghanistan as tens of thousands attempt to flee Taliban advances that endanger the lives of women, western allies, minorities, and Christian believers.
Tens of thousands of Afghan families are trying to escape the fighting between the insurgents and Afghan military, and are living in fear of what a return to Taliban control after 20 years might mean in their districts and cities.
While US and UK governments have recognised the risks for translators who assisted NATO forces, many others fear for their safety or freedom. A side-event at the 47th UN Security Council meetings stressed the dangers for human rights defenders, media workers and especially women.
A letter purporting to come from the Taliban ordered village leaders to provide a list of unmarried women who would become brides of Taliban fighters. Although unverified, the letter has added to the atmosphere of fear.
The Shia Hazara community have been the targets of many atrocities by militants including the Taliban. Ethnic Hazara are also the community that has seen the largest number of Afghans turning to Christ. Worryingly, SAT-7 has heard stories of Hazara being stopped to see if they have any evidence of being Christians on their phones. In one account a Hazara Christian was shot on the spot.
Edin*, a viewer of SAT-7’s Persian and Dari language channel, messaged SAT-7’s viewer support team to say he dare not carry his mobile because the area is under Taliban control. “Whenever you are thinking of calling me, please let me know in advance, so that I can try to somehow answer your call,” he asked.
Mikael Tunér, who grew up in Afghanistan and is a producer with SAT-7 partner ministry Media Mission the Messengers, said, “It is a very dire situation. Our friends, our brothers and sisters in Christ are telling us how afraid they are. That their lives will be snuffed out. We are seeing the same things as before in the areas that the Taliban now control. Girls not allowed to go to school. Women not allowed to leave their homes without a male companion.”
“Many have come to Christ from all ethnicities across Afghanistan. Please pray over the coming weeks that Jesus, Prince of Peace, will rule in many hearts.” Tunér added.
Pastor Shoaib Ebadi, who presents one of SAT-7’s weekly Dari-language programmes for Afghans, says that Afghanistan’s Shia Hazara minority have already been facing a “genocide” by Taliban and Islamic State jihadists. The 16 May 2021 bombing of Sayed Ul-Shuhada High School in Kabul and the horrific shootings at Dasht-e-barchi maternity clinic on 12 May 2020 were two of the worst attacks on the Hazara community.
Ebadi says it is the Hazaras’ experience of discrimination and suffering that “has caused young Hazaras to question and look beyond the traditional beliefs of Afghanistan. When they hear about Christ who gave His life for them in an ultimate expression of selflessness, they are drawn to study more. And, as they read the Bible, they see themselves in the message of Christ and recognise the Saviour who gave His life on the cross.”