The Afghan Church

Rebuilding the Afghan Church

The Exodus of Christians

In the wake of the 2021 violent takeover, Afghanistan fell into the hands of the Taliban, placing Christians, already among the most persecuted in the world, in unprecedented peril. Taliban death squads were reportedly going door to door looking for people on their list, regarded as threats to the state. Forced into hiding, Afghan Christians faced torture, rape, forced marriages, and even execution for their faith. This terrifying reality loomed over families and individuals who dared to declare their belief in Jesus Christ.  

The underground church, operating in secret locations, meeting in the countryside, or gathering in cars to pray, stands as a powerful defiance against a regime that suppresses freedom of conscience. The Taliban's fury towards the existence of Christians has only intensified their persecution. Despite the oppression, the courage and hope of Afghan Christians to live out the gospel has grown stronger, with many choosing to publicly demonstrate their conversion, even as thousands were forced to flee their homeland to survive.  

The fall of Kabul marked the beginning of some of the harshest measures against Christianity seen worldwide, equating to persecution in North Korea. With the Taliban's rise, women's education and professional roles have been banned or severely restricted. Among the national crisis, starvation and malnutrition of millions, the exodus of Christians marks the tipping point in the disappearance of freedom of conscience. The Taliban banned television and free expression, and they have also crushed the dreams of a generation, that once aspired to lean and make a positive difference in their society.  

The Return of Afghan Christians

Despite the exodus of Christians from Afghanistan in 2021, many of whom fled thousands of miles away find themselves being drawn back to their homeland. Only three years after the fall of Afghanistan, some Christians who escaped are daring to return, beginning the effort to rebuild the underground church and strengthen the Christian presence in the area.  

The movement among Christians defies the oppression of the regime and the ferocity of the persecution. Yet while Christians are returning voluntarily, this effort to advance the Gospel cannot be done alone; the underground church needs international support to resource programs that develop the community spiritually and practically.  

With the growing return of Afghan Christians to their homeland, the Shai Fund team is expectant that God will grow Christianity beyond what it was like in pre-Taliban Afghanistan. From this vision of restoration, Shai Fund is investing in media advocacy, ministry centers, and practical support for the persecuted, with the hope the church will truly thrive.  

Rebuilding the Church

Due to the fragmentation of the Christian population, spread throughout the country in house churches, and displaced across the world, the use of media material, such as films that tell Christian stories, has a crucial role in strengthening the people and disseminating information. The impact of Christian film production will extend to the far corners of the Afghan diaspora, and to those who cannot reach with church, helping strengthen and grow faith.

With the vital importance of fellowship and discipleship, Shai Fund is establishing Ministry Centers in the surrounding region. These centers serve as safe havens where Afghan believers can gather, grow in their faith, and receive pastoral care. Equipped with trained ministry leaders, these centers offer a lifeline of support to isolated believers, preventing loneliness and fostering spiritual resilience in the face of persecution.  

The most vulnerable members of Afghanistan's underground church—families and individuals at imminent risk—are the focus of Shai Fund's practical assistance efforts. By identifying and tracking those in danger, Shai Fund provides vital support, including safe relocation to countries like Brazil through church-sponsored resettlement programs. Through partnerships with faith-based integration agencies and the Brazilian government, persecuted families receive housing, food, healthcare, and assistance with integration, offering a pathway to safety and stability.

Shai Fund Impact

Many challenges lie ahead for rebuilding the church amidst persecution, but the provision of spiritual and practical resources is crucial lifelines for Christians. As Afghanistan's underground church continues to face persecution and uncertainty, Shai Fund remains steadfast in its commitment to support and rebuild this embattled community. Through these initiatives to support the church, outside and inside the country, the Christian population will be strengthened, grow in faith, and cultivate fellowship. The Shai Fund team is hopeful and expectant to see positive advancement of Christian presence in Afghanistan.  

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