This article showed up in my inbox the other day and reading through it broke my heart. It is yet another example of the dangerous proposition of being a Christian in our modern world. If you believe that Christian persecution ended during the Roman Empire some 1700 years ago… you’d be very, very wrong. Pakistan is evidence of the many dangers being faced by our brothers and sisters in Christ outside of our borders today.
About 2.5 million people in Pakistan today claim the title of Christian (half Protestant and half Roman Catholic), and each new day brings the unknown to their doorstep. Today, will their church get bombed? Today, will their child’s school be attacked by gunmen? Today, will their neighbors attack their family and burn down their homes? Each day is filled with the unknown, but still they faithfully continue.
Over the last couple of years the situation in Muslim-dominated Pakistan has actually gotten worse as devastating attacks have been inflicted on the Christian community.
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The most devastating attack in Pakistan happened in September 2013 when two suicide bombers targeted All Saints Anglican Church in Peshawar at the end of a Sunday worship service, killing 127 people and injuring 170. Many of the victims were women and children.
Bishop Samuel Azariah of the Diocese of Raiwind, moderator of the Church of Pakistan, spoke with Episcopal News Service shortly after that tragic day, saying that even after years of intense persecution from religious extremists, the Christian population in Pakistan is growing in numbers. “Nothing will dampen our spirits. Bombing, murder, burning, shooting will not dampen our spirits and our commitment to Jesus Christ,” he said.
Then last month two bombs went off in Lahore killing 17 people and wounding 70 more as Christians were attending worship at Christ Church and St. Johns Roman Catholic Church. Yet still the Christian community in Pakistan perseveres.
Earlier this year the Very Reverend Canon Patrick Pervez Augustine (who was born in Pakistan but is now rector of Christ Episcopal Church in La Crosse, Wisconsin) was able to travel to Peshawar and preach at All Saints Anglican Church. What he found in Peshawar may surprise you – not a church cowering in fear, but a church alive and thriving!
“I was touched by the power and commitment of their faith,” he told Episcopal News Service. “The terrorists believe they have a cause to impose Islam by violent force, beheadings and detonating explosives to kill those whose belief systems differ. Suffering is everywhere and it has overwhelmed our humanity.” Christians in Pakistan are “pounded by Islamists in brutal suicide bombings, daily harassment and imprisonments,” Augustine said.
The Very Reverend Augustine was able to travel throughout nation visiting displaced and persecuted Christians in need. The stories he heard and the people he met lend even more urgency to the needs of our fellow believers in Pakistan. These are our brothers and sisters and it is incumbent upon us in the West WHO CAN HELP, to help. How can we help? We can petition our leaders, we can call, write, email and visit demanding that they lend the power of the government to aid our persecuted brethren. We can send aid – money, goods and even ourselves to lend comfort and support.
Please consider what part you can play in the easing of the troubles of our persecuted friends and family.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com