WASHINGTON, D.C. (ODNS) – Soviet soldiers sent to Afghanistan as a punishment for their Christian faith are evangelizing Afghans and leading Bible studies there. This surprising news was revealed by an anonymous Open Doors News Service (ODNS) source who once lived in Afghanistan and has just returned from a fact-finding trip to that country.
“A large number of Soviet soldiers who are believers are actively sharing their faith with Afghans,” the source said in an exclusive interview. “They are giving out Christian literature, as well as holding Bible studies and prayer meetings in the country.”
He said the Soviet soldiers were sent to Afghanistan because of their Christian beliefs.“It’s the Soviet government’s way of persecuting them, but what they’ve done instead is send them on an evangelistic mission to one of the toughest mission fields in the world.” He added, “Afghans are definitely becoming Christians because of their witness.”
The source said his investigations in the country, one of the most difficult Islamic nations in the world to penetrate with the Christian message, revealed that the tiny church there is growing. “However, I’m not talking about hundreds of converts in the country,” he said. “I would say that there are no more than one thousand Christians in the whole country.”
According to church researcher, David Barrett, “Islam is the professed religion of virtually the entire populace.” In his book, World Christian Encyclopedia, Barrett states that no missionaries, Catholic or Protestant, have been permitted inside Afghanistan. “Since the penalty for apostasy from Islam is death, the few native Afghanis attracted to Christianity have in most cases left the country.”
The first permanent Protestant church building in Afghanistan was completed in 1971 but destroyed by government order in 1973. According to Barrett, there were only 9,340 Christian adherents in Afghanistan in the mid-1980s, but some Afghanistan observers believe these numbers are overstated.
In his survey of the Afghan capital, the source said the largest gathering of believers is no more than fifteen. “That’s tightly controlled and no Westerners get to attend these meetings. They are very careful because in the past they have been betrayed by ‘spies.’ Most Afghan Christians usually meet in two’s and three’s,” he said.
The source said he thought it ironic that Soviet soldiers were at the forefront of evangelism in the country where almost all Western attempts at evangelism have been of little success.