Life had brought nothing but disappointment for Nasima. As a girl born into a strict Islamic family, she was forbidden from attending school. The only activity she was permitted outside household chores was to go to the mosque and listen to the Qur’an—provided she kept her hijab wrapped tightly around her head to conceal her face.
When Nasima was still a teenager, her parents arranged to marry her to Mahmoud. In accordance with Afghan custom, she moved into her in-laws’ home, where she lived as a servant without rights. The family elders advised Mahmoud and Nasima to have as many children as possible to submit to Allah’s command and increase the followers of the prophet Muhammad.
Nasima gave birth to five children—but after suffering complications from multiple pregnancies in quick succession, her health was compromised. Already weakened physically, her distress increased when Mahmoud decided he wanted additional wives.
Kept hidden from Nasima was the internal struggle growing within Mahmoud. He loved Nasima, and seeing her incapacitated stirred up anger at the mullahs, his family, and Islam itself that commanded her to continue having children.
While Mahmoud was fasting during the month of Ramadan, he became ill and took medicine to relieve the pain. The mullah angrily informed Mahmoud that he had sinned by breaking the fast and would need to fast another 60 days to fulfill his obligation. Mahmoud began to think, Surely God is not this cruel.
Determined to seek the true God, Mahmoud remembered seeing the name of Christ in the Qur’an and decided to learn about Christianity. Kneeling on the floor, he cried out, “God, show me the truth!”
When Ramadan ended, he searched Facebook to find a Christian. He got in touch with a man in the underground church who gave him a Bible and generously answered all his questions. “I read the Bible for four months and found the true and living God in Christianity,” Mahmoud shared.
Nasima immediately noticed a change in her husband’s behavior. He discarded his plans for polygamy and apologized for his hurtful actions in the past. His life became full of mercy, love, and encouragement. Curious about this radical change, Nasima asked him for the reason.
“Christ changed my behavior,” he replied.
Mahmoud shared the gospel with Nasima and introduced her to a Christian woman who communicated with her online. Soon, Nasima also trusted Christ. Her disappointment in life was replaced with great joy. Embracing their new freedom in Christ, Mahmoud allowed Nasima to attend literacy classes, and she became the first female in her family able to read.
Mahmoud’s extended family also noticed this change in behavior—and grew suspicious. One day, Mahmoud’s sister snuck into his room and found his Bible. Furious, Mahmoud’s family began forcibly dragging him to the mosque for prayer. They continually monitored his actions. Mahmoud and Nasima were forced to flee to a different city—but even there, they had to move often from house to house as neighbors discovered their Christian beliefs and threatened their lives.
“We became known as Christians in our society. We are afraid of the Taliban, our relatives, and the community in which we lived, because no matter which corner of Afghanistan we hide in, they will find us and kill us,” Mahmoud explained. “They would kill us because if you kill apostates in Islam, you receive a reward in paradise.”
Searching for Safety and Finding a New Mission for Christ
Mahmoud and Nasima’s situation became more desperate on August 15, 2021, when the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan and began systematically hunting Christians.
“We were living in constant fear for our lives. All of the church members had to turn their phones off. We fled in fear, took our belongings, and went to [a trusted family member’s house] at night,” shared Mahmoud.
Safety in their new hideout was also short-lived: when their host discovered a Christian booklet among their belongings, she kicked them out of the house. Mahmoud, Nasima, and their children continued their search for safety, and several weeks later, arrived in a refugee camp.
Through God’s providence, they became connected with ABWE through Live Global and EveryEthne missionaries. As part of the Afghan Initiative, Mahmoud and Nasima—along with several other Afghan Christian families—are being relocated out of the refugee camp and strategically resettled in cities in the US with significant Afghan populations.
These proven believers, uniquely equipped for ministry in their own language and culture and assisted by Live Global and EveryEthne partners, have a great opportunity to serve unreached refugee populations here in the US.
Mahmoud and Nasima remain passionate about serving the Lord, even after the intense persecution they have experienced.
“I love to evangelize and disciple my people,” said Mahmoud. “Jesus says to reach all the nations, and I want to do that too!”
When Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in August 2021, many Afghan Christians were forced to flee for their lives. The ABWE global family of ministries now has the privilege to partner with several of these underground church leaders and their families currently awaiting relocation in refugee camps. Through the Afghan Initiative, we can resettle them in strategic Afghan communities in the US and equip them to reach the lost for Christ.