Afghan Christian Faces Death Penalty
AFGHANIS ARE TURNING TO CHRIST IN RECORD NUMBERS
By Joel C. Rosenberg
(WASHINGTON, D.C., March 23, 2006) -- In a piece last year entitled, "The Big (Untold) Story In The Middle East," I wrote about how Afghanis are turning to Christ in record numbers.
"There were only 17 known evangelical Christians in the country before al-Qaeda attacked the United States. Today, the number of Afghan Christians is in the thousands and growing quickly. Church leaders say Afghan Muslims are open to hearing the gospel message like never before. Dozens of baptisms occur every week. People are snatching up Bibles and other Christian books as fast as they can be printed or brought into the country. The JESUS film -- a two hour docudrama on the life of Christ based on the Gospel of Luke -- was even shown on television in one city before police shut down the entire TV station.
"'God is moving so fast in Afghanistan, we're just trying to keep up,' one Afghan Christian worker told me, requesting anonymity. 'The greatest need now is leadership development. We need to train pastors to care for all these new believers.'"
In EPICENTER, the non-fiction book I'm writing now (due out in December from Tyndale), I describe in detail the amazing story of how more Muslims are turning to Christ today than at any other time in history, from Morocco to Central Asia.
Which is why I view this developing story out of Kabul with so much concern. An Afghan Muslim convert to Christianity is facing prosecution and thus the death penalty for becoming a follower of Jesus. This is not what we meant when we liberated that needy country from the death grip of the Taliban.
President Bush was right to speak out about this case, saying he was "deeply troubled" by the threat of death against a Afghani Christian. He has promised to look into the matter, which is a positive development. Canadian, Italian and other European governments are also speaking out, to their credit.
The world must have a real heart-to-heart with President Karzai and the Afghan legislature that governments are created to protect God-given rights, not to dispense them, and that one of those rights is the freedom to choose one's religion.
The Church, meanwhile, must follow the words of Jesus, who said in Matthew 5:43-44: "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."
Let us pray, therefore, for President Karzai, for all leaders in Afghanistan, and for this rapidly growing fellowship of Christ-followers -- for wisdom, for protection, and for a new birth of spiritual, political and economic freedom.
To read Joel's weblog -- including the latest updates on the Afghan case -- please click here
UPDATE: Sunday 3/26/06
Charges have been dropped stating lack of evidence.