Islamic State of Afghanistan
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The mountainous country of Afghanistan is located in the central part of South Asia, sharing a western border with Iran and the southeastern border with Pakistan. Historically Afghanistan was part of the ancient Persian Empire but was conquered for the Greeks by Alexander the Great in 328 B.C. Buddhism became a strong force in the country reaching its peak in about 50 A.D. By the fifth century the Hun invasion eradicated the Buddhist culture. Christianity was once represented in Afghanistan through the Assyrian Church. By the seventh century the country had adopted Islam which remains the country’s dominant religious and cultural force. Sunni Muslims make up 84% of the population; Shiite Muslims claim 15% of the population leaving all other faiths totaling only one percent of the population.
Following the Second World War Afghanistan became closely aligned with the former Soviet Union eventually leading to Soviet occupation in 1979. Following almost constant guerrilla warfare the communist government was overthrown in 1992 and the warring factions turned on one another. In 1998 the Sunni Muslim Taliban militia gained control of the country and imposed strict Islamic rule. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States the U.S. and its allies declared a “War on Terrorism” that led to an invasion of Afghanistan and the defeat of the Taliban-led forces. A transitional government has been established with the goal of rebuilding Afghanistan and returning the country to self-government. Because of more than two decades of warfare Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries on the planet and millions of people lack basic food, clothing, housing and medical care.
As early as 1948 some bi-vocational Christians began to visit Afghanistan and by the 1960s the government allowed some missionaries to bring medical aid to the country. A Community Church was constructed in Kabul but with the conversion of a few Muslims the church was destroyed and expatriate Christians were expelled in 1973. With the rise of the Taliban and fundamentalist Islamic practices evangelism has not permitted in Afghanistan. Therefore any spread of the Gospel into the country must come through other forms of aid and social services. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the U. S. and Canada provides some limited financial support through its Global Ministries, Southern Asia office assisting with programs of health, education and community development.
The Christian Churches and Churches of Christ have had some limited efforts in Afghanistan beginning in 1997. A congregation in North Carolina and a congregation in Kentucky adopted the Taimani people of Afghanistan through a PACE project of the international ministry of Team Expansion. Later a Canadian congregation joined in this effort. The plan to work with this people group has included the preparation of a church-planting team, the use of radio and beginning small businesses to employ widows. At least one successful medical mission team went in 2002 to provide care and survey the needs. Team Expansion has also worked closely with International Foundation of Hope to provide some aid to Afghanistan. Muslim Hope is another Christian Churches and Churches of Christ ministry that has worked with refugees in Afghanistan.
(Because of the persecution Christians in Afghanistan must face and the potential dangers to those who work with the Afghan people individual names have been withheld).
Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
For further historical reference:
Churches of Christ Around the World, Mac Lynn, 21st Century Christian Publications, Nashville, TN, 2003.
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Global Ministries, Southern Asia Office
130 E. Washington St., P.O. Box 1986
Indianapolis, IN 46206-1986
Telephone: (317) 635-3100
Fax: (317) 635-4323
Web site: http://www.globalministries.org
1000 Franklin Rd.
Lebanon, OH 45036
Telephone: (513) 932-8121
Healing Hands International of the a cappella Churches of Christ provides international aid and are possible contacts for that fellowship:
Web site: http://www.hhi-aid.org