Tuesday, September 6, 2016

RLPB 374. Pakistan: 'Persecuted, but not forsaken'

Text Box: Attachments areaReligious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 374 | Wed 07 Sep 2016

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PAKISTAN: 'PERSECUTED, BUT NOT FORSAKEN' (2 Cor 4:9)
by Elizabeth Kendal

On 16 August the Pakistani military launched Operation Khyber III in the Rajgal Valley. This is close to the Afghan border in northern Khyber Agency, in Pakistan's north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. The operation is aimed at curtailing cross-border movements of Islamic militants and destroying militant hideouts in the tribal, rugged border region. From the outset the operation has achieved good results. On 1 September military spokesman, Lieutenant-General Asim Bajwa, told a press conference in Rawalpindi that the military campaign was progressing well and meeting with success. However, any operation against jihadists is bound to trigger a backlash.

click on map to enlarge.
Warsak Dam is on the Kabul River, 
in north-east Khyber Agency.
Located close to where the Pakistani military is operating, some 25km north-west of Peshawar (the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province), on the Kabul River, is the Warsak Dam. A few kilometres from the dam is a military training camp and school, the Cadet College Warsak. There is also the Warsak Dam Christian Colony, a gated colony of some 30-40 Christian families who earn their living labouring at the dam. In the early hours of Friday 2 September four allegedly foreign suicide bombers approached the Cadet College intending to attack it. No doubt the militants aimed to replicate the December 2014 terror attack on the Army Public School in central Peshawar in which 145 people, including 132 schoolchildren, were cruelly slaughtered. However, having intercepted chatter indicating that an attack on the college was imminent, Pakistani intelligence had strengthened security, placing security personnel on high alert. As the four would-be terrorists approached the college they could sense their plot had been thwarted. Fully prepared for carrying out an act of terror and no doubt keen to die as martyrs, the militants decided to strike the nearby Christian colony instead.

Main gate, Warsak Dam Christian Colony
source: World Watch Monitor
According to MorningStar News, the four assailants waited outside the main gate of the colony until Christian resident Samuel Masih (55) unlocked it at 5:30am. Whilst accounts vary, it seems that, though Masih was shot and killed, someone was able to telephone the police. Already close by and on high alert, security personnel were quickly on the scene and a fire-fight ensued. Two terrorists were shot and two blew themselves up. Later that afternoon, an Islamic terrorist detonated his explosive vest inside a district court in nearby Medan, killing at least 14 people and wounding 58, many critically. The dead and injured included many lawyers and police.  Pakistani Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JA), which maintains close ties to Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for both attacks. 

In what is certainly an answer to prayer, the security forces moved extremely quickly to save the Christians of Warsak Dam Christian Colony. As intercessors will know, this is not usually the case. Indeed, police have been known to stand at a distance while Christians are slaughtered. Praise God -- that did not happen this time! [A similar police intervention occurred on Friday 6 May when security personnel intervened to prevent a pogrom (see RLBP537, 18 May 2016).]  This is a positive development.
 
Farukh Masih's house after bombing
source: BritishPakistaniChristians
And in what is certainly a miracle, no Christian other than Samuel Masih was killed in the attack on the Christian colony which the militants had doubtless intended to wipe out. Though one of the terrorists detonated his vest inside the house of Farukh Masih, he killed only himself -- not one member of the family was seriously harmed. 'I thank God for saving my family and myself,' said Farukh Masih. 'In the few moments we had to think, we all just prayed to Him for protection. By His power we have all survived and the evil man who tried to take our lives will now answer to Him.'


PLEASE PRAY THAT THE LORD OF HOSTS WILL

* comfort and support Razia, the widow of Samuel Masih, and the couple's five children, aged 12 to 22; may they know the healing and provision of the Lord, their glory and the lifter of their heads (Psalm 3:3).

* command his angels (Psalm 91) to guard and defend Pakistan's vulnerable Christian communities.

* intervene in Pakistan to bring about cultural change.
-- We pray for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and for all those in authority and all those with influence in politics, media, education, the judiciary, the security forces et al); may they have insight and courage to tackle Pakistan's problems at the root -- for just picking off the bad fruit will never suffice. (Matthew 7:15-20).
-- We pray for Pakistan's Muslim majority; may they grow dissatisfied with Islam and be awakened to its failings, yearning for righteousness and justice, and may their hearts be open to the Gospel.
-- We pray for Pakistan's churches and Bible Colleges; may the Lord provide all their needs -- material, physical and spiritual.

and we thank you Lord for delivering the Christians of Warsak Dam Christian Colony from what would otherwise have been wholesale slaughter.

SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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CHRISTIANS IN PAKISTAN -- 'PERSECUTED, BUT NOT FORSAKEN' (2 Cor 4:9)

Early on Friday 2 September four Islamic militants attacked the Warsak Dam Christian Colony with the intention of wiping out the 30-40 Christian families living there. First they shot and killed Samuel Masih as he unlocked the gates at 5:30am. Fortunately someone managed to call the police. They happened to be close by and on high alert, having been informed that terrorists were planning to attack the nearby Warsak Military Cadet College. All four terrorists were killed, though miraculously no other Christians perished, despite one terrorist detonating his explosive vest inside a Christian family's house. May Jesus our Saviour and Shepherd comfort and support Samuel Masih's widow and five children. May Yahweh Sabaoth, the Lord of hosts, command his angels (Psalm 91) to guard and defend Pakistan's vulnerable Christian communities.

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Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today (Deror Books, Melbourne, Australia, Dec 2012) which offers a Biblical response to persecution and existential threat; and, After Saturday Comes Sunday: Understanding the Christian Crisis in the Middle East (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, USA, June 2016). See www.ElizabethKendal.com