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Church gates
Photo: CLAAS

On Sunday, August 7th, hundreds of Christian families in Lahore fled their homes when they saw a large mob marching towards their church building. It was only through the intervention of police that the building was preserved and an attack on the Christians' homes had been averted.

According to Pastor Gulzar Gill, who leads the Presbyterian church, a message was received at around 1:30 p.m. notifying him that hundreds of militant Muslims were approaching the church building, chanting anti‑Christian slogans. Thankfully, police officers had arrived at the scene quickly and engaged with Hafiz Aslam, the leader of the mob, before the large crowd reached the place of worship. Due to the officers' swift intervention, the volatile situation had de‑escalated.

The outrage was sparked by a youth seminar addressing the topic of "False Prophets" which took place at the church the day before the rioting incident. Apparently, Muslim leaders had misunderstood the intention of the seminar and therefore considered it sacrilegious. With the assistance of the police, Pastor Gulzar was able to explain to the rioters what the course had been about and apologized for any hurt feelings. Local Christian and Muslim leaders then signed an agreement, promising to maintain peace in the area.

Pastor Gulzar's church happens to be the only one in an area consisting of about 250 residing Christian families. Most of the church members have been attending for years but had never experienced a situation like this in the past. Unfortunately, even though the peace agreement has been signed, tensions remain among those who strongly oppose the practise of Christianity in the community. As a result, many of the Christian men have sent their wives and children to stay with relatives until they are confident that the threat of danger is no longer a concern.

Speaking about the incident, local lay leader Chaudhry Bhola Masih stated: "Unfortunately, hatred and discrimination against Christians and other religious minorities continue to grow, and the government has failed to address and control the situation, instead introducing policies which promote hate directly and indirectly against Christians. This is making religious minorities' lives hell in Pakistan. They are living in fear and worried about their children's future." For more information on the challenges facing Pakistan's Christians, and/or to review additional reports, go to our country report.

Praise God for the immediate response of wise and impartial police officers who were able to intercept the advancement of the rioting mob in good time and diffuse the tense situation. Pray that the members of this church will experience the empowerment of the Holy Spirit as they endeavour to reach out to the opposing members of their community with the love and grace of God, and thus help bring harmony in the area. Furthermore, may the families who were forced to flee for safety receive God's strength, peace and discernment, as they determine when it's safe to return to their homes without consequence.

Current Ministry Projects

VOMC partners to train Christian women in sewing skills throughout Pakistan to provide a sustainable source of income for their families and encourage them in their faith and witness for Christ.

Project Funds: Families of Martyrs, Women’s Ministry

Country Information

Population
238,181,034 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Punjabi (44.7), Pashtun [Pathan] (15.4), Sindhi (14.1), Saraiki (8.4) Muhajirs (7.6) Balochi (3.6), Other (6.3)

Religion (%)
Islam (96.5), Other - Christian and Hindu (3.5)

Leader
President Arif Alvi (2018)

Government type
Federal parliamentary republic

Legal system
Common law system with Islamic law influence

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for Pakistan

Pray that amendments will be made to Pakistan's existing blasphemy laws so that the country's citizens – including its children – will be protected from injustice and abuse. May our Lord's mercy and justice prevail, not only in the judiciary system but also in the hearts of the country's militants. Ask Him to transform their "hearts of stone" into hearts that are receptive to His love, mercy and the workings of His Holy Spirit – not only for the purpose of protecting the Christian minority but also for the salvation of their own eternal souls.

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