Christian Living

Spiritual Life

An Afghan Martyr

In a secret location, a dozen Afghan men were baptized. This was a monumental act by former Muslims. If discovered, it would probably cost them their lives.

Brother Andrew and I had brought an inflatable swimming pool for the service but we had misread the dimensions. It was nine feet long, three feet wide, but only a foot deep. The men told us to make sure they were completely immersed. The joy on their faces as they emerged dripping wet from the pool conveyed the significance of the event.

After the sacrament, we all sat on the floor. The man opposite me with a trimmed white beard was waving his right hand. “What is he saying?” I asked our translator.

The man looked seventy years old, but I knew that he was probably much younger. The average life expectancy of men in Afghanistan was only forty-five years. My interpreter explained, “He says that he had a stroke a few months ago and his right arm was paralyzed. He prayed that when he was baptized that God would heal him. He is waving his arm to say that God has healed him.”

This was Nazim, a man who loved learning. After this service, he returned to his village and started teaching children to read and write primarily using stories from the Injil (New Testament). One morning, the local mullah, a member of the Taliban, entered Master Nazim’s home with others from the local mosque and beat him severely, yelling “Why do you teach our children from the Injil and not from the Qur’an? All they need is Qur’an.” The mullah threatened to return and kill Nazim if he didn’t stop.

After the mullah and his thugs had left, Nazim asked his wife and two children to quickly run and call together family and friends, along with his students. Within a few minutes, there were approximately twenty-five people crowded into his home. Despite the pain from his injuries, he gathered the strength to say to the assembly: “I want to tell you something very important.” He then recounted his journey to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He concluded by reading from the Gospels and saying, “Jesus, by giving His life for us, releases us from the burden of sin and links us with God.” He challenged his listeners to follow Jesus; then he fell over and died.

When that disturbing news reached me, at once the thought flashed through my mind—unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces much grain (John 12:24 NKJV).

Nazim’s wife was expelled from the village, but she has relocated to another area where she teaches young women to read and write.

To my knowledge, there was no church in the Pashtun area of southern Afghanistan before 2000. As I write today, there are several thousand believers in Jesus in that region. They are the church in Afghanistan, born out of the faithful witness of men like Nazim. They meet in secret, but they are exuberant in their joy.


Used with permission. © 2007 and 2017 by Open Doors International. Adapted from Secret Believers: What Happens When Muslims Believe in Christ by Brother Andrew and Al Janssen

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