Finland-based Afghan Christian leader Miragha Sediqi was a “truth seeker” for many years. He shares his own journey to Christ and explains why a series of programmes he has recorded on the Book of James is an ideal tool to build the faith of Afghans living under the Taliban.
The first time that Afghan-born Miragha Sediqi knocked on the door of a church he didn’t get the answer he was hoping for. Miragha was in Greece and, spotting a sign in Persian on the door, thought he might find a Persian speaker there who could help him and his wife in their search. But they weren’t looking for God; they were hoping to find a smuggler to take them to Italy!
The man who answered the door laughed at him and told him, “You won’t find anyone like that here – this is a church.” His reaction started the couple on a very different journey.
Today Miragha lives in Finland and is the chairman of Finland’s Afghan Christian Fellowship. He has also just completed recording Living Faith, a 13-part series for SAT-7 PARS. The programme is in Dari, the Afghan variation of Persian spoken by 50 percent of Afghans.
Losing one faith; finding another
Miragha explains that he has always been a “truth seeker”. After he fled the first period of Taliban rule of Afghanistan in the mid-1990s, he lived for 17 years in Iran. There he bought many books about Islam, but the more he read, the more he moved away from it. He said, “People who knew me would say, ‘Don’t talk to Miragha because he will make you an atheist!’”
After stumbling upon the Persian fellowship in Greece, however, Miragha’s spiritual search took a new direction. His next questions to the man at the door were “What do people do in a church?” and “What do they teach and believe?” He was quickly handed a Persian Bible and, with his wife, began reading through the Gospels of Mark and Luke. They kept returning to the church and, in the space of little more than a month, both decided to follow Christ and be baptised.
Miragha explains that the Bible stories that spoke to them the most were the parables. In the oral culture of Afghanistan, people immediately connect with stories like these because they are drawn from everyday life.
Help to grow
Soon after becoming Christians the couple were able to emigrate to Finland. There they kept quiet about their new faith among other Afghans and grew slowly in their understanding until they met an Afghan Christian doctor who was able to help them.
More support has become available in recent years, though. In 2013, an Afghan Christian Fellowship in Finland was founded. Although Afghan pastors aren’t able to visit the estimated 1,200 Afghan believers scattered across the country, the group organises two conferences a year for them. Around 500 believers gather for fellowship and teaching at these in the winter and summer. In recent years Miragha has been studying theology and, in 2020, he became chairman of the fellowship.
His new teaching series for SAT-7 focuses on the book of James. There is a simple explanation for this, he says.
“Afghans have heard a lot of teaching from the (Muslim) mullahs. They are tired of hearing theology and want to know how to live for God. James is very hands on and down to earth regarding the faith. That’s why the series is called Living Faith.”
Practical but sensitive: Miragha starts with Afghans’ understanding of the existence of the three Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – and “takes them, step by step, to show how Christian teaching differs”.
The series uses the Book of James as a map for Christian living, covering topics such as endurance in times of testing, resisting temptation, putting God’s Word into action, tolerance and patience, and praying in faith. Through these thirteen episodes Miragha also brings the viewer to realise that it is through Christ alone that this faith can be lived.
While all of these themes are important for Afghans, Miragha says endurance is perhaps the greatest need for viewers still living in their homeland.
“The whole of society is living under an oppressor,” he says. “The psychological pressure is very, very hard.”
Miragha hears from contacts who tell him about Taliban house searches. They arrive at the door demanding to see weapons that people have hidden. When the residents say they have no weapons, the militants dismiss this and continue their questioning. Local people are under pressure to act as informers and betray neighbours who served the previous government. Those who are not Pashtun, such as Hazaras and Tajiks, face the harshest treatment.
In this tough environment, Miragha says, “It’s important for believers to grasp that when you endure as a Christian, it’s like iron, beaten on an anvil and heated in the fire. It purifies and removes all the rubbish. Through endurance they can come to a stronger, more pure faith.”
Despite the dangers, some Afghan Christians are courageously sharing the Bible with others. One Miragha knows has just been released by the Taliban while another is still in prison.
“Pray that God will protect Christians who do this,” Miragha asks. “Pray that the pressure will be lifted from the Afghan people and that the hearts of the Taliban will be softened.”
“An Afghan proverb says ‘When you speak from the heart, it will touch the heart of the listener’ When I made these programmes I spoke from the heart as the Spirit was leading me. So I pray that thousands will see this programme and, through it, come to know the Lord.”