Pakistan (MNN) — Pakistan’s re-instated death penalty could mean trouble for followers of Christ. But, indigenous missionaries aren’t backing down.
“Every leader I met, every Bible student I met, they knew that death could be a reality,” notes Sarla of Christian Aid Mission, your link to indigenous missions.
“And yet, they’re committed to serving the Lord.”
Death penalty: unbanned
In December, Pakistani officials lifted a 7-year moratorium on capital punishment to rebuke masterminds of the fatal Peshawar school attack.
“They were trying to bring justice to those victims and have the terrorists face the consequences,” explains Sarla. “The whole country was just enraged for these actions from the Taliban.”
The death penalty moratorium was initially lifted for cases specifically related to terrorism. Nearly 50 convicts have been executed since December. However, in the rush to punish terrorists, Sarla notes, the government is actually putting more people at risk.
The lift was expanded last week for ALL capital offense crimes, not just those connected to terrorism. That means Christians accused of blasphemy or apostasy–converting from Islam to another religion–will be put to death.
Pakistani Christians at-risk
Amnesty International estimates Pakistan’s “death row” holds roughly 8,000 inmates. Among these prisoners are falsely-accused Christians like Asia Bibi, whose multiple appeals for justice have fallen on deaf ears.
According to Voice of the Martyrs USA spokesman Todd Nettleton, blasphemy accusations are often used to persecute Pakistani Christians.
“If you have a property dispute, if you have some kind of a relational dispute, you can simply accuse somebody of blasphemy and they get locked up for years even if there’s no evidence, even if there’s no case against them,” Nettleton told MNN last fall.
Despite the ever-increasing dangers in Pakistan, Mahara says believers are pressing on in faith. Will you pray for these indigenous missionaries as they boldly share Christ with their neighbors?
“Pakistani Christians are like you and [me]: their calling is from the Lord and they’re marching forward, even though it’s challenging,” Sarla notes.
Right now, indigenous ministries supported by Christian Aid Mission are putting the Gospel in action by helping survivors of Sunday’s attacks. They need help raising funds for funeral expenses, medical care, counseling and more. You can support their efforts here.