AFGHANISTAN: Christians to be executed – fact or fiction?
2 Corinthians 1:8 For we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning our affliction which befell us in Asia, that we were weighed down exceedingly, beyond our power, insomuch that we despaired even of life (KJV)
The Greek word for IGNORANT (ag-no-eh-o) in 2 Corinthians 1:8 literally means to “not know something through a lack of information or intelligence.” Praying ignorant prayers is worse than not praying at all and has little or no significance in the Kingdom of God. Good intentions do not guarantee Godly prayers – we need to be informed when we pray. We are called to be alert to factual realities when we approach the throne of God with our supplications and intersessions.
This is especially true in the current season of uncertainty and fear in AFGHANISTAN.
A message is currently circulating on social media referring to 22(9) Christians being sentenced to death in Afghanistan and believers being beheaded in Queragosh, Iraq. The message reads as follows:
Today sadly they just confirmed this terrible news at this time. They can corraborate it in the news. How sad!! Please pray for the 22(9) Christian missionaries, who have been sentenced to death tomorrow afternoon by the Afghan Islamists. Please can pass this message on as soon as possible so that many people will be able to pray. This message was sent by JUDITH CARMONA a missionary from Chihuahua who is in Africa. The whole planet united in prayer. If you can forward it please join us in urgent prayer, also because the radical Islamic group has just taken Quaragosh, the largest Christian city in Iraq. Where there are hundreds Christian men, women and children who are being beheaded. Prayer cover is being requested. Please take a minute and pray for them. Pass the message to whoever you can. Quaragosh has already been taken several times. They have asked us for prayer, please pass it on to others
PLEASE DO NOT FORWARD THIS MESSAGE.
Both incidents are indeed actual events, but it took place more than a decade ago. The fact that no dates are given and that the message simply refers to “tomorrow” as dates of execution, should already give cause to suspicion. The facts regarding these two incidents are as follows:
This message was first sent in February 2009 and the original prayer request for 22 missionaries who were about to be executed could possibly refer to a group of South Korean missionaries in Afghanistan that were arrested for sharing the Gospel of Christ. This incident took place on 19 July 2007. The missionaries were subsequently released and deported.
Snopes reported as follows:
This message has been making the rounds since February 2009, yet we never turned up any information from news reports or human rights groups documenting that 22 missionaries and their families were being held captive, or were (about to be) executed, in Afghanistan. That is not to say that mission work in Afghanistan is without peril. On 19 July 2007, 23 church workers from South Korea were taken hostage by the Taliban. Two of their number were executed (shot to death and abandoned by the roadside), with the remaining 21 eventually released after the South Korean government reportedly paid $20 million for their freedom. The Koreans had apparently been incautious, traveling unescorted by bus through an area of Afghanistan frequently singled out by the Taliban and highway robbers.
The current situation:
Christians in Afghanistan make out less than 0.3% of the population and have suffered severe persecution over the past decades. On the Open Doors World Watch List of countries closed to the Gospel of Christ, Afghanistan ranks second, with only North Korea being more restricted. All mission activities are prohibited and sharing the Gospel, or any Muslim showing interest in the Gospel, could lead to execution. Prayer is desperately needed and calls to prayer are legitimate and should be forwarded, BUT, prayers should not be diluted with untruths and old truths. This will deter from current realities and result in wasted prayers.
Release International warns that attacks on Christians are likely to rise across the region with the Taliban now in power again. ‘Pray for Christians in Afghanistan and in the region,’ says Paul Robinson, CEO of Release International, which supports persecuted Christians around the world. ‘The Taliban’s swift advance can only embolden extremists. Pakistan especially may be impacted by the new mood of militancy – which will be bad news for Christians across the region.’
One church leader in Afghanistan said Christians are living in great fear. Some who worked for the government now face reprisals, and any identified as Christians could be killed. Christians risk betrayal, even from their own family members.
The original prayer request for Christians being beheaded took place on August 6, 2014. The incident referred to ISIS invading the region of Queragosh and was indeed a time of desperate need and severe trauma. Qaraqosh, also known as Al-Hamdaniya or Bakhdida, is an Assyrian city in Iraq, located about 32 km southeast of the city of Mosul and 60 km west of Erbil. All of its citizens fled to Kurdistan Region after the ISIS invasion on August 6, 2014. The town was under the control of ISIS until October 19, 2016, when it was liberated as part of the Battle of Mosul after which residents have begun to return.
The current situation:
Continuing to send these messages as if it is current events that need urgent prayer is drawing the attention away from current challenges and legitimate needs. Iraq is ranked 11th on the World Watch list of countries closed to the Gospel and certainly in need of a global campaign for prayer. Christians are a minority with 1% being Christian of the nearly 39 million population, facing severe restrictions on sharing the Gospel and practicing their faith. However, praying for past events has little value spiritually on current events.
YOUR RESPONSE WHEN RECEIVING THESE POSTS
Please copy the following message and link when you receive this message on social media and send this as a reply:
Thanks for sending this request. I would however like to draw your attention to the fact that these events took place more than 12 years ago and are no longer relevant. I do however commit to pray for believers in Afghanistan and Iraq as you request but for their current needs and existing challenges. For the factual information behind these events please visit: https://dialogos.co.za/afghanistan-christians-to-be-executed-fact-or-fiction/