Pakistan (MNN) — Four members of a Christian family were shot and killed while riding in a rickshaw on Monday in Quetta, Pakistan. The family was targeted by gunmen on motorcycles. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack.
A Warning Note
“While it’s the latest in a spate of attacks on Christians, it’s actually a pamphlet that was left behind at the scene of the crime that’s really captivated the attention of local Christian leaders. And that note read that ‘this is the first episode of genocide against Christians,'” FMI’s Bruce Allen shares.
“Even though the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, the local authorities are downplaying that — saying it was simply a random act of violence. And yet that note left at the scene would speak otherwise,” Allen says.
Some Christian leaders think the downplay of this incident by local authorities may have something to do with the fact the Pakistani government has had a difficult time extinguishing ISIS from the country. The government may be in denial that the terrorist group is operating in the country.
However, Allen says it seems this note is genuine and there will more than likely be increased attacks against Christians and other minorities. In fact, just within the past five months, the persecution of Christians has risen. Christians have experienced a higher volume of physical violence and false blasphemy charges.
A Rising Wave
“This coincides timing-wise with the rise and popularity of a new political party in Pakistan that’s calling for a strict enforcement of the abusive blasphemy laws,” Allen says. “I can see that this is the trajectory that the country is on in general.”
On top of this, only one media outlet in Pakistan has reported on the homicide: a newspaper published in English, which means most Pakistanis don’t know about this recent attack.
“Only about half of the population of Pakistan can even read and write their own language, so they’re certainly not reading the English language newspaper,” Allen explains. “Unless something happens in your own neighborhood in Pakistan, it’s very unlikely that you know what’s happening in the rest of the country. But this has at least captured the attention of Christian leaders.”
The Burning Question
We’re left with this nagging question: how did the attackers know these family members were Christians? Culturally, Christian men and women dress like Muslim men and women. There are no physical tell-tale signs to indicate one’s religion. Yet, these people were specifically targeted for their faith.
“Apparently, someone is familiar with that family…and maybe they’re watching for a time when they leave their home and get in a rickshaw to go to a market, or wherever they were going, and then gun them down,” Allen shares.
“The terrorists are very patient in stalking people and then when they actually launch their attack. So, it could be that they had been watched for quite a while.”
Recently, Pakistan began requiring all persons to list their religion on official documents. There’s little doubt this will aid in the continued rise of Christian persecution in the country. Combined with the note, it’s easy to see how Christians could be on edge.
Be Prayerful, Be Encouraged
Yet, despite the darkness in Pakistan, Allen says there’s also a lot of light. God is moving and people are hungry for His word. They’re hungry to serve Him. And they’ve counted the cost.
“I come back so encouraged because I’m meeting with these Christians who are thriving in the midst of such difficult circumstances and they’re saying, ‘We’re not giving up on ministry. We need help to do it. But, we’re willing to put our lives on the line,’” Allen recounts from his recent trip to Pakistan.
Let’s pray for our brothers and sisters in Pakistan. Pray for their ministry, the people in their communities, and for hearts to be turned to Christ. Ask God to give these Christians strength, encouragement, and creativity in reaching people with the greatest news ever to grace this earth: the Gospel.
“Prayer is the greatest weapon in our arsenal.” – Bruce Allen