It has been two years since the Taliban took over Afghanistan. In that time conditions for Christians, as for women and girls and other minorities, have got worse and worse.
This simple outline of prayer – based around the theme of silence – can be used during church services.
It is based around the idea of silence, reflecting the way in which Afghan Christians have had their voices silenced and their freedom taken away. It uses statements from Afghan Christians. All names have been changed to protect their identities.
You are, of course, free to adapt it to your circumstances and tradition and to use as little or as much as you wish.
Christians in Afghanistan – like so many Christians around the world – are losing their freedom, their identity, their voice.
They are being silenced.
“Everything beautiful is considered ‘infidel’,” says Sharifullah. That is not his real name. His real name must be kept secret for his own protection. A traditional craftsman in Afghanistan, Sharifullah’s business came to a standstill when the Taliban returned to power. He says:
“The Taliban want their ideology reflected everywhere, and so all signs of colour, life and hope have been removed.
“The Taliban are killing our souls and spirits.
“They are killing the souls of our children by taking all that is beautiful away from them.”
Sharifullah has good reason to fear the Taliban: he and his wife are secret Christians.
Let us spend some time in silence, remembering Christians, not just in Afghanistan, but all around the world, who have to keep hidden, who have to keep silent.
Imagine never being allowed to meet together like this.
Imagine never being able to tell anyone that you are a Christian.
Imagine not being allowed a voice.
A time of silence.
To exit the time of silence, if possible show this video. It features Zabi*, from Afghanistan. Her words show the necessity of keeping hidden and what happens when Christians are discovered.
Despite all that they are going through, Afghan Christians are determined to keep the good news alive.
Sharifullah says: “We will never let hope be silenced... We will make sure the world hears the gospel through every breath we take. And we know you will help us by living the gospel, using your freedom and sharing Jesus with those who have come to your neighbourhoods. Please continue to stand with us.”
You know what it is to face injustice and hate,
To hide from those who would attack You,
And to keep silent in front of Your accusers.
Be with Your followers in Afghanistan, and with all in the world who must keep hidden.
Protect them from discovery,
Reassure them that their lives are hidden in You.
May we speak up for those who have no voice,
And use our freedom to provide for those in need.
Let us not be silent, Lord.
In Your name we pray,
*Names changed for security purposes
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