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Afghanistan

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The Afghan parliament has issued death threats against Christian converts from Islam

Afghanistan is one of the most hazardous countries in the world for Christians. They live in constant danger of violent persecution by armed groups and also by the government, which threatens to wield the death penalty against those who convert from Islam.

In July 2013 Members of Parliament in Afghanistan called for converts from Islam to Christianity to be killed, in accordance with sharia law. The parliamentary speaker ordered the country’s national security services to take serious steps to stop the spread of Christianity, and the Afghan media launched a vitriolic campaign against Christian converts.

Afghan Christians are thought to number around 1,200 and are all converts from Islam or children of converts. Although none has been executed, a number have been arrested and jailed for a time, and on their release many have fled abroad to escape further persecution. There is deep-rooted public hostility to apostates from Islam, leading to discrimination, harassment and occasional violence against them; converts may lose their spouses and jobs and be rejected by their families. The extremist Taliban have also threatened to target Christians.

Most Christians do not state their beliefs publicly or gather openly for worship. There are no public churches or Christian schools, and believers worship alone or in small congregations in private homes. Anyone suspected of involvement in Christian activities is liable to harassment, and any kind of missionary endeavour may attract fierce opposition.

The conditions of Christians have not been much better under the current government than under the Taliban, an extreme Islamist movement that controlled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001.

Although the Afghan constitution declares that non-Muslims are free to practise their faith, it also states that “no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam”. In practice a restrictive interpretation of sharia has become the law of the land.

Despite the desperate situation faced by Christians, the Lord is working in remarkable ways in Afghanistan; house churches there are reportedly seeing more people come to Christ. 

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    • In an earlier incident in Saisomboon village, three teenage Christian girls were disqualified from taking their final school examinations because of their faith. The village chief said that in following Christianity, Noi (15), Net (15) and Nut (14) had forfeited their right to education. Five families from the village have now converted to Christianity. A spokesman for Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom expressed the view that the authorities were trying to find every possible way “to stop the spread of Christian religious freedom in the area”. Pray that the girls will be allowed to complete their education and that opposition to the Christians in the village will cease. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 13 hours ago

    • Five Christians have been charged with murder in Laos after a sick woman sought prayer at her local church, converted to Christianity and later died. Mrs Chan, from Saisomboon village in Savannakhet province, had been ill for two years when she approached the church. Her health improved for a short time, and she and her eight grown-up children came to faith in Christ. The sons and daughters wanted a Christian burial ceremony, but the authorities forbade this unless they renounced their faith, which they refused to do. When Christians in the area protested, five were arrested and subsequently charged with Mrs Chan’s murder. Pray that the God of justice will have compassion on His people (Isaiah 30:18) and ensure their acquittal from this false accusation. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Aug 2014 00:00

    • A Christian from Loynam village in the Savannakhet province of Laos was arrested on the morning of 29 May and tied to a post before being imprisoned. Two weeks earlier, police and village security officers had gone to Mr Sort’s home and threatened him with eviction from the village and confiscation of all his property if he did not give up his faith. He refused, despite repeated attempts to coerce him. The village chief then seized around £300 of Mr Sort’s money. Give thanks that our brother, who has been a Christian for less than two years, has stood firm in his faith, and ask the Lord to renew his courage and strength (1 Corinthians 16:13). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Iraqi Christians are losing even previously safe havens under the relentless assault of ISIS. On 25 June, the militant group attacked the historic Christian town of Qaraqosh, near Mosul, driving its mainly Christian population of around 40,000 to flee. Many Christians from Mosul had gone there after the fall of their own city earlier in the month. Kurdish forces were able to repel ISIS from the town, allowing some people to return to their homes for the time being, but their security remains extremely precarious. Pray that the ISIS advance will be stopped and that the Iraqi security forces will be able to regain the captured territory. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Heavenly Father, we cry out to You for the Christians left in Mosul, mostly elderly and sick, as they now face the threat of sharia penalties introduced by ISIS: the amputation of limbs for thieves, crucifixion for criminals and the death penalty for apostasy. We pray that You will protect them from the brutality of the militants. We pray for peace and healing for those who have already been threatened or attacked, and for the safe return of those who have been kidnapped. We pray too for those struggling to pay the humiliating jizya tax that the militants have imposed. We ask that the attempt to restore a united Islamic state under one ruler in the cross-border territory controlled by ISIS will come to nothing. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Aug 2014 00:00

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