Recently I read a story that I can’t forget. It took place in early 2002 in Afghanistan. The Taliban had just recently been driven from power by coalition forces. Several men were driving in an SUV over very rugged mountain terrain to a clandestine meeting of Christians in the southern part of the country. They could hear American planes flying overhead on bombing missions to the nearby Tora Bora Mountains where Al-Quida leaders were hiding. After a grueling number of hours they finally arrived at a nondescript house where the meeting took place.
The windows were covered with blankets to hide their activities from prying eyes. There was no heat or electricity; candles and sunlight filtering through blanket cracks provided what light they had. Brother Andrew and his traveling companions were met by a motley group of men, most of whom were bearded and wore the traditional garb of local tribesmen. Two women, wives of two of the men, sat in a darkened corner of the room shrouded in their burkas.Brother Andrew writes about this meeting in his latest book, Secret Believers: What Happens When Muslims Believe in Christ. He states, “For the next few hours we were transported into a world few have experienced, and in the process we became convinced that there is a genuine Christian solution to the scourge of terrorism.”
The primary purpose of this secret meeting was to baptize the 12 men and two women who had gathered there. The meeting began with singing some Psalms in Pashto led by a former mullah (Muslim religious leader) with a “hauntingly beautiful chanting voice.” He said he wanted to be a “mullah for Jesus.” As the meeting progressed each man gave a testimony to his Christian faith.
One was a former gun smuggler who for years transported guns on mule trains via treacherous trails from Pakistan to the mujahideen in Afghanistan. He would take loads of opium with him on his return trips back to home base. Now he told how he carried Bibles and Christian books over those same trails. He stated: “There is a way of peace and that’s the way of Jesus.”
Another man first heard of Christianity as a boy in a refugee camp in Pakistan where his family had fled from the Taliban. Eventually, as an adult, he became a Christian. However there was a high price to pay. He had to choose between faith in Christ and his family. His father-in-law forced his wife and children to leave him and live with family elsewhere, until he returned to Islam. His testimony: “I now disciple others and 18 people have come to know the Lord.”
All of these men were leaders of the developing church in the southern Pashtun region of Afghanistan. Before 2000 there was no known group of believers in this area. Now there are several thousand who are exuberant in their faith in Jesus. However, this faith comes with a price.
One of the men at that baptismal service shared that he had had a stroke several months earlier and that his right arm was paralyzed. He had prayed that when he was baptized God would heal him. After the baptism he waved his arm to show that he was healed.
Following his return home from this baptismal event he began teaching children in his community to read and write using Bible stories. A local mullah and some of his cohorts visited him one morning. They beat him severely and threatened to come back and kill him if he did not stop his activities.
As soon as these tormentors left, this man asked his wife to call family and friends together. Despite his intense pain, he spoke to them: “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 challenged his listeners to follow Jesus. After he finished speaking, he fell over and died. Then his wife was expelled from the village. She now lives in a different area and continues to teach young women to read and write.
Brother Andrew first appeared on the world scene when he wrote God’s Smuggler, an account of his efforts to get Bibles into countries behind the Iron Curtain. Now he works with Christians in Muslim countries to help them grow in their faith and reach out to others who are seeking the truth.
Secret Believers, written by Brother Andrew and Al Janssen, tells “the riveting story of the church in Islamic countries…how Christians there struggle to come to grips with hostile governments, terrorist acts and an influx of Muslims coming to Christ.” It challenges all of us to view Muslims not as enemies but as people for whom Christ died. I believe it should be required reading for all Christians so that we can be supportive of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are living out their faith in very difficult circumstances.
This article is part of the CL Archives. Articles published between August 2017 and July 2008 were posted on a previous website and are archived here for your convenience. We have also posted occasional articles published prior to 2008 as part of the archive. To report a problem with the archived article, please contact the CL editor at email@example.com.