Afghanistan

A mountainous country in Central Asia, Afghanistan is a land of contrasts - spectacular beauty of its landscape and people and the grinding poverty in which most Afghans live. Afghanistan is known more for its ties to terrorism and war, yet the Afghan people are truly hospitable and open, but have suffered for centuries.

Afghanistan - and her people - is slipping into deeper crisis. Afghans are dismayed by the lack of progress in development and rebuilding of infrastructure, while the government seems unable to make any difference. This frustration is feeding hostility towards foreign NGOs and fostering a climate which has allowed the resurgence of the Taliban. Afghanistan has become significantly more violent with serious riots in Kabul and many areas now out of control and not accessible to foreigners.

Afghans are fiercely proud and devout Muslims, and subsequently, fiercely resist conversion to Christianity. Followers of Jesus can suffer severe persecution from their communities. In 2006 an Afghan believer was arrested and faced trial for apostasy. He made a clear statement of faith on television which caused uproar but he was eventually granted asylum in Italy.

Despite their resistance to Christianity, some Afghans are disillusioned with Islam, and have been able to hear the gospel through short-wave radio and personal witness. The Afghan church is very small and completely underground. Known believers number a few hundred and only very recently some have dared to start meeting together in small house meetings. Their numbers have been boosted by the return of refugees who came to faith abroad. There are stories of Afghans becoming Christians in remote parts of the country, but these reports cannot be independently verified.