Yousuf tossed on his mattress. He had been awake three hours, and the call to prayer would soon sound through the dawn for fajr, the first Muslim prayer of the day. Yousuf’s world was crashing down around him. His father had become seriously ill, followed by his wife. Their medical treatment quickly exhausted Yousuf’s financial resources and now he was desperate.
“God, please give me a sign,” he cried out. “I need help!”
Years ago, Yousuf had attended a religious school to become a mullah. As he studied the Qur’anic verses he would be required to know as an Islamic leader, he became overwhelmed at the number of passages unfavorable toward women. Yousuf loved his hard-working mother, and the contrast between her character and the pronouncements in the Qur’an caused him to question the Islamic faith. He stopped praying and meeting at the mosque and returned home to pursue a different career.
The morning after his anguished plea, Yousuf’s friend Hayat walked through his gate. Hayat—whose name means “life”—was a Christian. Hearing Yousuf’s despair, he opened his Bible to the book of Matthew and began sharing the gospel. As Hayat read, Yousuf felt a weight lifting from his heart, leaving him with a peace he could not explain as a Muslim. This is the true God, he realized, not the one he had studied about in Islamic school. Yousuf believed the message he heard that day and chose to follow Christ.
After he became a Christian, Yousuf began to pray regularly to God for help. “I had no teaching, so all my prayers were for help with financial stuff,” he explains. “Later, I understood how I put God in a box, but he is like an ocean who is greater than just our needs. Something amazing, though, is that God answered all of my prayers even though I asked for such silly things. . . . it strengthened [my] faith in prayer.”
‘Who Is Your God?’
Yousuf’s wife, Jamila, came from a religious Muslim family hostile toward other beliefs, so Yousuf decided to hide his new faith from her. He added a password to his computer to prevent her from seeing the Bible verses he read and locked the door every time he attended online Bible classes. Jamila quickly grew suspicious and accused him of infidelity. Flustered, Yousuf began quoting verses from the Qur’an to cover his strange behavior.
Then one day, their small daughter got lost on the way home from school. As the minutes ticked by and she still hadn’t arrived, Jamila sobbed in desperation. Yousuf began to pray aloud, assuring Jamila that his God is powerful and would answer his prayer. Twenty minutes later, the phone rang: their daughter had arrived safely at her aunt’s home.
As Yousuf continued to pray for his family, God answered. And each time God answered, Jamila grew more open. When Jamila’s mother became ill, Yousuf prayed for her too—and God healed her.
Amazed, Jamila asked, “Who is your God?”
Finally, she was ready for Yousuf to tell her about Jesus. She became a believer, and later their children also trusted Christ.
After that, Yousuf shared his beliefs with boldness. He often distributed Bible passages printed from online PDFs and actively shared the gospel over Facebook. He continues to see God draw Afghan Muslims to himself through answered prayer.
“When you talk to Muslims about Christ, they are very needy. So, I would ask, ‘What are your worldly needs?’ and then pray, and it would be answered and I would share the gospel. This happened to me, so I think that strategy works well with Muslims.”
Another member of the Afghan underground church echoes Yousuf’s testimony of answered prayer. Farzana was in college when she discovered her fiancé Ghulam was secretly a Christian. Torn between her love for Ghulam and her devotion to her Muslim family, she returned to her classes to decide which path to pursue. During final exams, Farzana became very sick, suddenly losing 22 pounds. Her mother took her to doctor after doctor, but no medical professional could determine what the problem was. Farzana began to fear for her life. Ghulam arrived to help and began praying for her. When she overheard him call a friend in another city to ask him to pray for Farzana in his church, she told Ghulam that he and his friends were crazy. If even the doctors could not help, their prayers would not work either.
After two days, she began to get better.
“It changed my mind, and I felt I needed to know more about Jesus,” Farzana said. As she listened to the Bible stories Ghulam shared, she realized she was living in fear that Allah would punish her if she did not fulfill the pillars of Islam. “I thought, I could not find such a father in [the] Muslim community to forgive his son or daughter.” Not long after, Farzana too became a believer.
Answered Prayer for Open Doors
When Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in August 2021, Yousuf and Jamila were placed in grave danger, along with Farzana and her family and many others in the underground church.
“I have lots of threats against me because people knew who I was from my [previous Islamic studies],” Yousuf shares.
As the Taliban hunted Christians, these believers were forced to leave everything behind to flee their city, then eventually their country.
Even while displaced, Yousuf uses his time in a refugee camp to share his faith and pray for the needs of Muslims around him.
Through God’s providence, he became connected with the ABWE global family of ministries through Live Global and EveryEthne missionaries. As part of the Afghan Initiative, Yousuf and Jamila—along with Ghulam and Farzana and nine other Afghan church leaders and their families—will be strategically relocated to the US and resettled in cities with significant Afghan populations to reach other refugees with the gospel.
“This has been my desire and dream, that God would bring a strong organization so I can serve and learn more [about] Christ to serve other believers,” he says. “I have prayed for this day for many years, and I know God is answering that prayer.”
These Afghan believers testify to the power of prayer. Would you join us in praying for the 11 families in the Afghan Initiative as they begin their new ministries in the US—and that many more Muslims will be drawn to the true God as they cry out for help and rescue?
Editor’s Note: Names have been changed for security. Additionally, Yousuf and Jamila’s plans for their ministry have changed, although the other families cited still remain with the Afghan Initiative.
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 11 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.