Pakistan is always high on Open Doors’ annual World Watch List. There’s a lot of violence, but what’s affecting the Church even more is the everyday pressure on Christians. Here are seven examples of Christians persevering in faith.
1. Courage In The Face of ISIS
Over Easter, Christians were warned by Islamic State that there would be more attacks. Despite the risks they met for a quiet time of worship, but this time nobody lit their candles, as was customary. A six-year-old girl went around the room with her own candle and lit everyone else’s. A woman asked her why they needed to be lit.
“Because the candles remind us that even in the darkness of the tomb, there was the hope of Jesus’ promise.” She said. “When Jesus makes a promise it is like a candle given to us when the lights go out. It is a promise that the lights will come back on again.’”
That Good Friday, the authorities arrested a group plotting to carry out suicide bombings. The threat is real for Christians in Pakistan. “But our faith is real too,” said a mother who brought her children as well. “When I looked around me and I saw all the children, I was delighted that we have them to learn from. Their eyes are so sleepy, yet the eyes of their faith are open so wide.”
Image: Quiet fellowship under the threat of suicide bombers.
2. Rest For The Weary
Nobody valued times of rest, prayer and quiet reflection more than Jesus did. Our partners organise annual retreats for pastors, church leaders and their spouses. A pastor’s wife spends time quietly on her own.
“Sometimes I feel I have to hold it all together so that when my husband comes home he does not have to experience more stress at home. He has to deal with forced conversions, abductions of girls from our church, visits from and to the police and a myriad of other issues like printing of Bibles and the presence of western cults who really muddy the waters for Christians in Pakistan. I get tired. Sometimes I just want to take my children and my husband and walk through a closet, like the one in CS Lewis’ Narnia… then I remember I can do that through the Bible and I feel God’s peace flood me and enable me.”
3. “The Day I Learned To Read Was The Best Day Of My Life”
Aroona* didn’t go to school until she was 16. She dropped out when she was six because her mother needed her to help at home. Aroona’s father was addicted to home-brewed alcohol which gave him liver sclerosis. Through our local partner we were able to send Aroona to school. Now she teaches women like herself to read and write.
“The day I learned to read was the best day of my life. When I teach my students to read I feel like I have added colours to God’s painting before He comes back. I can tell them about Jesus and show them the stories in the Bible. There are all kinds of myths about Jesus. If we cannot read, we cannot tell the difference between myth and truth.”
4. Holding Fast to God’s Word
Christians across Pakistan and hold firmly to the Word of God with their lives, even when they don’t have their own physical copy of the Bible. “The greatest tragedy is when people say they are Christians but they don’t know Christ,” says a Bible school teacher. “Millions of Christians are brainwashed everyday with Quranic texts, but they never receive any Biblical education. And then it’s very tempting to become a Muslim because you hope you will lead a better life. That’s why it’s so important to teach our brothers and sisters the Bible and how to hold fast to God’s Word.”
Image: A Pakistan Christian at a discipleship course holds onto his Bible.
5. An Encouragement In Times Of Uncertainty
Church across Pakistan operate under constant fear of another terrorist attack. Islamic State and other terrorist organisations have vowed to hurt believers. This has made many children fearful, but many continue to stand strong in their faith. Oftentimes it’s the parents who help turn their fear into faith. They bring their children to church despite the risks. This father holds his son close and whispers words of confirmation and encouragement in the young boy’s ear.
6. Too Dangerous To Go Home
A Priest washing the feet of a woman working at the Bible college, as an example of Christ. She was unable to travel back to her home town for the Easter break, because of the tensions and threats against Christians in that area. Alongside other friends and staff, she has been involved in ministry to Christians for many years.
7. Sharing The Word With Those Stuck In Slavery
Modern day slavery is a massive problem in countries like Pakistan. Many Christians are bound to the people they work for. This man and his family have worked as brick makers for two generations.
“There are those among these isolated persecuted Christians who have memorised the scriptures,” said a Christian who evangelises to brick kiln workers.
“They teach it to those around them on the brick making fields as they are not able to go to church or attend gatherings, which are seen as a threat to their employers. The work is hard and the Christians are isolated. Pray for those who work with Christians in brick kilns, for literacy and Bible teaching teams and for those involved in advocacy work to speak out.”
Image: Sharing the Word of God with other slaves.
*Name changed for security purposes
This article originally appeared on Open Doors International Exposure Blog.