Pakistan (MNN) — Multiple reports confirm more terrorist attacks against “soft targets” in Pakistan — activity hubs for minorities like schools and churches — are imminent.
This means Pakistani minorities like Christians and Shia Muslims are increasingly at-risk. Will the military, which has effectively taken control of Pakistan, be able to protect them?
“Perhaps,” says Bruce Allen with Forgotten Missionaries International. “They have more personnel, more training, to take care of that.”
And yet, FMI contacts say another church was just attacked, not far from where last week’s bombing took place. Find details here. Furthermore, according to Reuters, a bomb exploded outside a Shia mosque in Karachi immediately following Friday prayers.
Please ask the Lord to protect His followers in Pakistan. Pray that terrorist attacks will not hinder Gospel growth.
A “soft” coup
Pakistan’s history is full of oft-bloody coups and instability. But, this one is a little different.
“Usually when we hear about a coup anywhere in the world, we think of revolution in the streets and lots of bloodshed,” observes Allen.
“But, a soft coup is one where there’s a shift in leadership and yet there’s been no overt revolution.”
Last summer, Pakistan’s military bartered with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for control of national security and foreign policy. The grip of armed services became more obvious following December’s terrorist attack on an army school in Peshawar and the introduction of a new National Action Plan.
“[Sharif] stays on as a figurehead; you’ll see him making speeches, but he’s always flanked by the Army Chief of Staff, or some other military top brass,” Allen explains. “He’s more of a puppet at this point.”
Protecting Pakistani minorities
No matter who is at Pakistan’s helm, the question remains: will Christians and other minorities receive protection from impending danger?
The Pakistani government certainly doesn’t have a good track record. Last week’s church bombing was one of many that undoubtedly could have been prevented. Government negligence was partly why many hurting Christians took to the streets of Youhanabad following the attack.
“Two days before the incident, there were [chalk] writings on walls that were supporting terrorist activity–specifically ISIS,” Allen told MNN last week.
“There was just a sense of ‘boiling over’ [that] was going to occur here soon, and the authorities just were not prepared to deal with that; or, [they] turned a blind eye to it.”
Pakistani schools, another “soft target,” are taking extra security measures; in many cases, with government help. Walls are being built higher, barbed wire fences are being installed, and police are giving arms training to teachers.
“The schools at least have some funding to do that, but in many cases, the churches have a very difficult time coming up with new security protocols,” shares Allen.
Now, more than ever, it’s time to stand alongside fellow Christians in Pakistan.
First and foremost, Pakistani believers need our prayers.
“We have brothers and sisters who are begging for us just to be praying for them,” Allen says.
“Pray for the wisdom of Christian leaders, so that they know how to guide their congregations through such turbulent times. Pray for their courage. Pray that they experience God’s provision.”
Your financial support can help meet the physical needs of Gospel workers.
“Whether you’re a pastor or you’re a laborer, if there’s terror in the streets, it’s difficult to get to work and make your own income,” says Allen.
Through FMI, your family can partner with a pastor and his congregation through sponsorship. You could also help with transportation needs, women’s discipleship and training.
“Only a few of us can actually ever get into Pakistan,” admits Allen. “But, using FMI’s strategy, we’re empowering the Christian leaders who are already there.”
As of February, FMI was supporting 39 Gospel workers in Pakistan. Today, there are more than 24 Gospel workers “waiting in the wings.”
“These are people who are passionate about the Gospel, who want to care for God’s people; they’re just saying, ‘Will you help us do that job please?'” says Allen.