Monday, April 19, 2010

Pakistan Part One

Note: I was asked to write a short article about persecution in Pakistan for our church newsletter. This is part one, giving background, and I'm going to interview a family in our church that recently left Pakistan for a second part in a couple of weeks.

In the aftermath of genocides, the world community has developed a na├»ve but standard response. “We didn’t know, so we couldn’t respond, but we’ll try to do better next time. Never again!” From the Holocaust to Cambodia to Rwanda, all too often the world looks the other way until it is too late.

As members of the body of Christ, we must be aware of what is going on across the globe, right now. In dozens of countries, millions face severe restrictions, imprisonment, and death because of their minority status. Our connection to these goes far beyond shared humanity – they are family, brothers and sisters in Christ. In one particular place, persecution is severe and rising.

Pakistan is a tumultuous country, sharing tense borders with Afghanistan and India. Internal and international rumblings and connections with terrorism are often highlighted in the news. But for Pakistan’s three million Christians, less than 2.5% of the population, their persecution often goes unnoticed.

At times, the world takes note, as it did last month when six World Vision workers were murdered. But we cannot realize the courage it takes to walk into church knowing one might not get to walk out. Harsh Islamic law means that on average, at least one Pakistani Christian is imprisoned and another killed each month, often on trumped up blasphemy charges. Whole Christian villages have been destroyed, and many more homes and churches burned. Splinter groups from both the Taliban and al-Qaeda actively pursue Christians. Brother Andrew’s organization Open Doors ranks Pakistan as the fourteenth most persecuting country in 2010.

So what can we do? The honest answer is that we are limited in how we can respond. But three things are essential. First, educate yourself and those around you. Be aware of the persecution that is threatening so many of our brothers and sisters around the globe. As you do this, pray. Use the information you’ve learned to pray specific prayers for persecuted Christians. Sign up for updates from The Voice of the Martyrs or Open Doors, and pray as you receive news from believers around the world. Finally, reach out to internationals here in our own community. Many have their own stories of persecution, as well as family in areas where they may still be at risk. Get to know them personally and pray with them.

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