Pakistan (MNN) — Persecution is up another level in Pakistan, especially the Christian community of Youhanabad.
Bruce Allen of Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI) says anti-Christian violence was a big fear going into Resurrection Sunday.
“Attendance at the churches swell, and a terrorist–or someone with a vendetta against people–says, ‘What a great opportunity,'” Allen explains.
As believers head into a new week, fear remains high.
On March 15, two churches in the Lahore suburb of Youhanabad were attacked by suicide bombers tied to the Pakistan Taliban. 17 church-goers were killed by the blasts, and another 90 victims remain in critical condition.
The attacks occurred despite police presence.
“While they [the police] were assigned to that area where these two churches are located, they were off in a shop, watching TV–watching a sports match between Ireland and Pakistan,” shares Allen.
Hundreds of angry Christians and Muslims took to the streets following the bombings. The angry mobs targeted their rage on two Muslim men who had been taken into custody by police and were thought to have connections to the church bombings.
“They were handed over to the mobs by the police,” Allen says. “They had already been in police custody, and the police said, ‘Here, have these two.'”
The mob then tied those two men to a stake and burned them to death. In response, Pakistani police arrested more than 100 Christians. Over 20 have been indicted of crimes ranging from destruction of state property to manslaughter.
In addition, dozens of Christian men are allegedly being abducted by police during the night and tortured. According to Pakistan Today, police are trying to force these men into making false confessions.
Insecurity felt by the Youhanabad community is spreading throughout the country, Allen shares.
“People are very concerned about being targets at this time,” he states. “They do not have the support –they feel–of the government or the police.
“They say, ‘Our only weapon, really, is to rely on prayer for the Lord to protect us.'”
Will you help?
Trepidation isn’t stopping FMI-supported workers from ministry. Even though the atmosphere in some areas is tangibly “us against them” (in the view of Muslims, Allen clarifies), believers are still reaching out to their neighbors with the love of Christ.
“It’s a big shift from a few weeks ago, when many Muslims were very openly questioning the validity of their own religion (Islam) [because] terrorists were attacking other Muslims,” Allen notes.
Especially after the Peshawar school attack, “People were very open to discuss the claims of Christianity at that time.”
Will you ask the Lord to protect these Christians as they serve Him in Pakistan? Pray also for FMI-supported pastors as they prepare for an upcoming conference.
Later this month, Allen explains, leaders supported by FMI will be gathering pastors and their families together for a time of renewal and training. Not only will Gospel workers be mutually encouraged, they’re also hoping to pass on strategies that accommodate for both safety and evangelism.
You can help the pastors get resources for this conference by clicking here and selecting “Education/Training” from the drop-down menu.