“Ariana” and Afghanistan

Why the name “Ariana”? 

Ariana is an ancient term from pre-Christian times for the lands and peoples that cover modern-day Afghanistan and surrounding areas. Darius, the ancient ruler of the Persians is said to be of Arian origins. The term had strong connections to Zoroastrianism. In the heyday of Afghan nationalism in the 20th century, Afghan historians and journalists, including Pashtuns of socialist leanings, popularized the term “Ariana” as being distinct from modern-day Iran (though both terms have a similar derivative). Today Afghans from all ethnic backgrounds identify with the term Ariana as being connected to Afghanistan and its people.

Afghanistan Today – Chaos, Refugees and Jesus

Afghanistan – One of the biggest international stories in recent years has been the collapse of the Afghan government and the Taliban takeover. What happened? How did we get to this place?

Bloody Coups

In the past 50 years, Afghanistan has lurched from one bloody conflict to another. We need to go back to the late 1970s. The Prime Minister, Daoud Khan overthrew the monarchy and established a so-called republic with a new constitution. It didn’t last long, as he and his family were assassinated in a bloody coup in April 1978. The new rulers forced socialist rule on a strict Muslim society. Afghans rose up en masse to oppose this regime. The Soviets had to respond.

Moscow Boycott

Old-timers will remember when President Jimmy Carter announced a boycott of the Moscow Olympics in 1980. Many Western nations joined the boycott. The reason? The Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan in December 1979.

  • This resulted in the 1st wave of Afghan refugees, millions fleeing the Soviet bombing.


This invasion fueled the resistance movement, the Afghan mujahideen. They declared jihad against the Soviets. Osama Ben Laden and other Arabs (who are not from Afghanistan), saw this struggle as an opportunity for ‘short-term Islamic mission service’ (jihad). The Western world supported this Islamic resistance. The Islamic radicalism and terrorism that has rocked the world in past decades developed here.

Bloody Era 

The Soviets withdrew in 1989 and a few years later, the Afghan ‘freedom fighters’ (Mujahideen) ruled Afghanistan but were caught in bloody civil conflict as ‘Muj’ factions turned on each other. Kabul became a city of rubble.

  • We witnessed a 2nd wave of refugees from Afghanistan.


Then came the Taliban, round one. They were young students of Islam, part of the Muj, but disgusted at the bloody violence. Their aim was to disarm the Muj and set up a purist Islamic regime.

  • This resulted in a 3rd wave of refugees as Afghans could not handle the Taliban’s oppressive rule.

Then came 9/11, planned inside Afghanistan ( though not by Afghans, but by Osama and his colleagues who were inside Afghanistan.)

New Era

A Western coalition invaded Afghanistan and the Taliban fell in six weeks. Afghanistan transformed! Millions of Afghans flooded back into their home country. They were home! There was amazing reconstruction and new freedoms. Trades were working 24/7. Civil society burgeoned – girls laughed as they went to school; Afghan music, the media, the sports world, and so much more flourished.

But … Bungling, Corruption and Violence

As Afghanistan reveled in its growth, dark clouds loomed all over. Western blunders, scandalous corruption in the government, a flourishing drug trade and brazen suicide attacks from the Taliban threatened the newfound freedom.

  • And, so more refugees!


America mired down in their longest war. They wanted out. The US made a deal with the Taliban in 2020, ignoring the Afghan government. “We will withdraw from Afghanistan, and you promise not to hurt us ever again.” Then came August 2021. The troop withdrawal, the unprecedented Taliban blitz across the country, and the totally unexpected collapse of the Afghan government. It shocked the world! It devastated Afghans.

  • yet another wave of refugees and this time, many evacuees.

Refugee – No Home

Five waves of refugees, probably more. Our world is overwhelmed with more and more waves of refugees. The majority of refugees are Muslims, millions from Afghanistan. Along the refugee highway, many Afghans heard about Christ. Afghans started ‘going to church’ whether it was real or not. Afghans searched for a new home and stability, from one land to the next. So much trauma – personal, family, social, political. Many long for God. One former Imam said, “Islam has not been able to guide its people.”

  • There is great openness among refugees as they are so uprooted. Many come to Christian faith. 

These are 1st generation followers of Jesus. With this comes baggage from their former world, as well as, from modern western culture. This creates huge needs for discipling and pastoring young believers.

Inside Afghanistan Today

As for the Taliban – round TWO, who are they? Simply bearded villagers who have triumphed over the modernizing city? The Taliban say they are the true followers of Islam; they sacrificed, and God empowered them to defeat the corrupt Afghan regime and helped them send the apostates home. The bottom-line for the Taliban is the rule of Islam. Indeed, they are zealous for the law, real or not.

Devout Muslims

Many a devout Afghan is pleased with the Taliban. He desires to please God and do right. The former Afghan government was corrupt. The West is in a cesspool of immorality. The answer is Islam. They are zealous for the law, but some are openly asking questions about Jesus and the Christian faith. Will they see Jesus as the truth? May the light of Jesus shine!

Disillusioned Muslim

But Afghanistan faces increased restrictions: laws about girls’ head coverings, school closures, and harsh punishments. The economy continues to flounder. Where will it end?

Because of the devout Islamic rule of the Taliban we are seeing more disillusioned Muslims. They are tired of Islam. Some reject God altogether, and become agnostic or even atheist. Others search for God.

Afghan Christians Today:

Fifty years ago, there were no known believers among the Afghan people. However, through all of this chaos and the many waves of refugees, many hundreds (and maybe several thousand) Afghans have come to Christian faith, especially along the refugee highway. These believers have faced huge opposition, both from their social networks and from governments. In 2021, as a result of the sudden and unprecedented Taliban takeover, many Afghan Christians fled the country and have joined with the growing Afghan Christian community in the diaspora and in Western lands.

Although the Taliban claim there is no Christianity inside their country, God knows those who are His and many Afghans, both devout and disillusioned Muslims, are seeking answers to life and wondering what the Gospel says to their life situation.

We believe we are on the verge of a fresh wave of Afghans seeking Jesus and experiencing transformation. They need to become part of Afghan fellowships. Ariana Ministries is committed to seeing Afghan churches birthed and pastoring new believers as they grow in their faith.