Our Afghan Neighbors

Afghanistan is a country with a rich history. It’s located in the middle of several other civilizations: Iran to the West, India and Pakistan to the South, Mongolia and China to the East, Tajikistan and the former Soviet countries to the North. Due to these surroundings, the country has been attacked by neighbors for centuries. Yet the Afghan people have persisted and prevailed. Conflict, US military presence, and economic opportunity have brought over 100,000 new Afghan neighbors into North America.

On the UPG Priority Matrix, all but two of the Afghan listings are in the top 100. This means that the need for evangelists and churches among them is dire. It’s unlikely that an Afghan seeking Jesus would find a church that would speak her language. Three metro areas have seen small house churches started among Afghans! They now must figure out how to cooperate as one church consisting of several different people groups. 

Afghans speak two primary languages: Pashto and Dari. Since Afghanistan is placed geographically at the crossroads of the ancient Silk Road, a former trade route, there is a mixture of people groups. These groups range from Pashtuns (the native Afghans), Tajiks originating in Tajikistan, Uzbeks from Uzbekistan, and Hazaras, who look more like the Mongolians to the east. All of these groups practice Islam. Understanding the diversity of what it means to be Afghan, as well as knowing about their heritage and beliefs, is essential to understanding and effectively representing Jesus among them. 

Where are Our Afghan Neighbors?

The San Francisco Bay Area and the Greater Toronto Area are home to between 40 and 60,000 Afghans. Many of these are first generation immigrants and refugees. These are some of the largest populations of Afghans outside of their country of origin. Although some have been here a few decades, and their children were either very young when they arrived to the U.S. or were born here, many are new refugees. A number of them are widows with children who lost their husbands in tribal and ethnic group wars, or under the Taliban. Many of these widows are non-literate even in their own language, and most live on welfare. 

Who are Our Afghan Neighbors?

Many Afghans in North America have become affluent through owning businesses and graduating from prestigious schools and universities. Others still struggle, working low paying jobs such as taxi driving. Most recently, Afghan translators with the U.S. military have come with their families under political asylum as the U.S. begins to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

There is movement to Jesus stirring among Afghans. Would you like to be a part of what He is doing? Maybe you could learn Dari or Pashto to talk about Jesus with Afghans. Maybe your church could commit to pray. The options are endless, but one thing is certain. We at Global Gates would love to see you get involved.