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PAKISTAN: CHRISTIANS VULNERABLE AND ENDANGERED
by Elizabeth Kendal
|source: Christians in Pakistan|
|Shaan Taseer, 17 July 2019|
On the evening of 29 June, Christians Sunny Mushtaq (19) and Noman Asghar (17) left their homes in Bahawalnagar, Punjab, to play cricket but never returned. The pair were arrested for receiving blasphemous sketches of Muhammad on their WhatsApp numbers. Though the sketches had been sent by Bilal Ahmad, a Muslim, he is not under investigation. Local sources believe the Christian boys were targeted by Muslim boys who had long sought to drive the talented Christians from the cricket competition.
|On death row: Shagufta Kausar and |
her husband, Shafqat Emmanuel Masih.
Since the 1980s, Pakistan's Islamic fundamentalists have consolidated and expanded their influence over Pakistan, mostly through their Saudi-funded mosques and madrasas (Islamic schools). As the Islamic radicalisation of the masses has advanced apace (creating a cultural crisis), so too has the systematic discrimination and violent persecution experienced by Pakistan's Christians, creating nothing short of an existential Christian crisis. The persecution -- which has essentially been normalised -- includes assault, rape, murder, forced conversion, human trafficking, Islamic pogroms, terrorism and, of course, the routine misuse of Pakistan's infamous blasphemy law. Comprising a mere two percent of the population, Pakistan's mostly poor and downtrodden Christians form one of the most vulnerable, endangered and severely persecuted Christian communities in the world.
WATCH AND PRAY: MADRASA REFORM
|Students learn the Qur'an |
in a Karachi madrasa.
source: related article on Gulf News
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL
* protect, sustain and bless all Pakistan's Christians; may our loving Lord provide believers with all their needs -- finances, security, wisdom, discernment and enduring faith -- so they will not fall prey to exploitation or attack.
'But my eyes are toward you, O God, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenceless! Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me and from the snares of evildoers! Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by safely.' (Psalm 141:8-10 ESV)
* sustain, encourage and intervene on behalf of all Pakistani Christians currently in prison on false blasphemy charges; pray specifically for recently arrested friends Sunny Mushtaq (19) and Noman Asghar (17) and long-condemned couple Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel. Lord have mercy!
* give the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan clarity of mind, conviction of spirit, courage of heart and determination to succeed, so that Pakistan -- a volatile tinderbox of religious hatred and sectarianism -- might be brought back from the brink of catastrophe. 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.' (from Matthew 19:26 ESV)
* protect, sustain and richly bless all Pakistan's Bible Colleges, churches, pastors and missionaries (formal and informal), for only by means of The Truth -- God's truth about sin, redemption and transformation -- will Pakistan ever be free. (John 8:31-32; and John 16:3)
SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
PAKISTANI CHRISTIANS VULNERABLE AND ENDANGERED
As the Islamic radicalisation of Pakistan's Sunni Muslim majority advances apace -- mostly through Saudi-funded mosques and madrasas (Islamic schools) -- so too does the systematic discrimination and violent persecution experienced by Pakistan's Christians. The persecution includes assault, rape, murder, forced conversion, human trafficking, Islamic pogroms, terrorism and the routine misuse of Pakistan's infamous blasphemy law. Far too many Pakistani officials are willing to deny the Christian crisis, which is but a symptom of Pakistan's existential cultural crisis. One positive is the government's commitment to reform the madrasas. Expect resistance; watch and pray! Comprising a mere two percent of the population, Pakistan's mostly poor and downtrodden Christians form one of the most vulnerable, endangered and severely persecuted Christian communities in the world. Please Pray for Pakistan and its suffering Church.
She has authored two books: 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).