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Afghan Christians Are Very Online

Image: Courtesy of SAT-7

Since the fall of Afghanistan in August 2021, it has been nearly impossible for Afghan Christians to find fellowship.

Not that it was easy before.

“There was no local church where I could explore my questions about God,” said Parwin Hosseini, now living in Turkey. “But once I found answers abroad, I accepted Jesus.”

Her last name has been changed for security reasons, to protect her visa status.

A university graduate from Mazar-i-Sharif, Hosseini left her home country in 2019 and, unlike most local Afghans, is not a refugee. She fled her uncle’s arrangement of her marriage to a man nearly twice her age and obtained residency pursuing a master’s degree in economics. In Istanbul, a Turkish pastor gave her a Bible in Dari, her native language, and introduced her to an Afghan church when she moved to Ankara.

She had heard of the Good Book before. Today, she facilitates its study.

“I want to help evangelize women,” said Hosseini, coordinator for the nascent Afghan Bible College (ABC), “and then equip them for ministry.”

Begun in 2020 by a Korean missionary in Turkey, ABC is an online college with some in-person training. With ten affiliated lecturers, including three with PhDs, it aims to prepare leaders for the next generation of Afghan Christians—estimated to number up to 12,000 before last year’s takeover of their homeland by the Taliban.

No one knows how many remain in Afghanistan—but 12 are ABC students.

Many other Christians joined the national exodus sparked by the US military’s sudden withdrawal. Of the nations welcoming displaced Afghans, southern neighbor Pakistan tops the list, hosting more than 1.5 million Afghan refugees and asylum seekers (and 8 of ABC’s students). Neighboring Iran to the west and Germany follow (with 3 students each), while Turkey hosts 140,000 displaced Afghans (and 20 students). Out of ABC’s 50 students spanning five nations, Hosseini gets to be a mentor to its 15 women. And with the Taliban’s late-December suspension of college education for female students, her cadre is…

This article was originally published at Christianity Today on January 4, 2023. Please click here to read the full text.

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Christianity Today Europe Published Articles

Ukraine’s Evangelical Seminaries Plead for Help

Image: Kaoru Ng / SOPA Images/LightRocket / Getty Images

One month ago, Taras Dyatlik gathered in Moldova with friends and partners for another 10-day round of mundane seminary meetings. Serving as regional director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia for Overseas Council, he was a lynchpin for strategy and funding for a network of theological institutions in Ukraine and Russia.

Three days later, he was desperately scrambling back to Kyiv. Dyatlik’s family—like much of Ukraine—was under Russian military fire. And the only thing louder than the air raid sirens that would soon pervade his sleepless nights was the silence of his Russian colleagues.

“This is not a conflict, or tension, or special operation,” he said, using the terms employed by most Russians—and too many otherwise cautious supporters in the West. “It is invasion and war.”

He emphasized the Bible shows the importance of precision in languague.

“It’s not just that Abel died or that Jesus was just betrayed; Judah betrayed Jesus, Cain killed Abel,” he said. “Not just that a man sinned; Adam and Eve sinned. Biblical truth has names, has a cause-and-effect chain.”

Dyatlik’s charged remarks mirrored others voiced at an online roundtable organized Thursday by the Ukraine-based Eastern European Institute of Theology (EEIT). About 500 supporters, partners, and general wellwishers registered for The Russia-Ukraine War: Evangelical Voices, eager to hear from fellow believers on the front lines.

The attendees, from at least 25 nations and 20 US states, received theological reflection—and raw emotion.

“It’s difficult for us Ukrainians to stay calm when we talk about what is happening in Ukraine,” said Roman Soloviy, EEIT director, who served as moderator. “Most of us men have never cried so much as during the last three weeks. We really need your help, your prayer, and your voice in the world.”

Oleksandr Geychenko, rector of Odessa Theological Seminary (OTS), expressed the shock of all.

“We died with the pregnant woman and her child when the maternity hospital was bombed. We fled with those running from Russian shooting,” he said. “All we were used to is wiped out—now just a wilderness.”

OTS is the oldest of the Ukrainian evangelical seminaries, tracing its history to a 1989 local effort to train preachers and Sunday school teachers. The campus was evacuated at the start of the war as the Ukrainian military took up occupancy in defense of the Black Sea port. But what has puzzled and discouraged Geychenko most is…

This article was originally published by Christianity Today on March 18, 2022. Please click here to read the full text.