“T hank you so much for helping us, for helping to save my family!” exclaimed Sayed, an Afghan Christian convert from Islam, to Barnabas Aid as he arrived with his wife and three children in a safe Christian country, Brazil.
They were among 16 Christian families (64 individuals) who fled likely death at the hands of the Islamist Taliban government in their homeland.
Gospel studied in secret online
They were flown by Barnabas to begin a new life in Brazil, where they can worship freely.
In Muslim-majority Afghanistan, Sayed learned in secret about the Gospel over the internet and listened online to the sermons of pastors. He came to know our Saviour Jesus Christ, and shared his love for the Lord with his wife, two daughters and son.
However, they dared not share with their wider family or friends that they had become Christians in case the Taliban learned of their faith.
The Taliban rules by sharia (Islamic law), which demands death for apostates from Islam. It proclaimed on seizing control of the country in 2021, that Christians must reconvert to Islam, leave the country, or be killed.
Not looking back
Sayed, his wife and children left everything behind for the love of the Good Shepherd.
Asked about the goods and properties they gave up, Sayed quotes Luke 9:62: “Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’”
The family arrived in Brazil at the end of March 2023, and have already settled in well at their new home and church.
A church member describes Sayed as having an “amazing knowledge and love for God’s Word”.
She said the family, especially the children, are eager to learn Portuguese and quickly picked up a number of words and phrases.
“Since the first [worship] services they attended, they already made an effort to sing in praise of God, even with so little knowledge of the language,” said the church member.
“Glory to God for the family’s life and all He has been doing in our midst through them.”
Family reunited in Brazil
One man who had more reason than most to welcome the arrival of the 16 families in Brazil was Samim, a Christian convert from Kabul.
He was among the first group of ten Afghan Christian families (54 individuals) resettled by Barnabas to Brazil in June 2022, and was waiting eagerly at São Paulo airport in March this year for the arrival of his mother, father and two brothers.
“Now they are here we can pray in freedom and we can praise the Name of the Lord”
Samim last saw them around the time the Taliban came to power and he fled Afghanistan by crossing into a neighbouring country (Barnabas Aid November/December 2022, p.6).
After Samim escaped Afghanistan, he told his family that he had become a Christian and took every opportunity to tell them of Christ’s love. His parents and brothers also came to put their faith in Christ.
Samim rejoices that he has been reunited with his family in Brazil. “Now they are here we can pray in freedom and we can praise the Name of the Lord,” he says.
“We are so happy and so thankful for everything that God did for us through Barnabas Aid.”
All the newly arrived Christian families have been adopted by churches in Brazil and the congregations – with some financial support from Barnabas – are providing them with housing, food, Portuguese language classes and pastoral care.
Barnabas’ Head of Operations in Brazil says the first group of families that arrived in June 2022 are well settled and enjoying life in the country. “Their Portuguese is improving each day, some of them have jobs now and are being able to start providing for their families already,” he adds.
Project reference: 01-901 (Needy and persecuted Afghan Christians)
Devotion of new arrivals inspires other Christians
The faith and thankfulness of the Afghan Christians has been an inspiration to Christians in Brazil, according to a leader of one of the churches that has adopted the new arrivals.
“We learn a lot from them – more than we teach them, in fact,” he said.
“They live the Church life with reverence and zeal. They are grateful to God for everything, from leaving home to going to the market, to arriving at the market.
“They live a life of devotion that is not forced or learned in a seminary. This is what impacted my life the most.
“Questions like, ‘If there is no persecution here, why don’t we worship God for four or five hours – two hours is not enough?’ – or, ‘Since it is allowed, why don’t we have services every day?’
“We were very blessed with the coming of this family. I lost count of how many times I cried leaving their house. God is wonderful.”