In August, a mob of angry Muslims wreaked devastation upon the Christian community in Jaranwala, Pakistan. A family with a newborn baby were among those affected. This is their story – including how you came alongside them in a sugarcane field.
As daylight gave way to night on the day her community was burned and ravaged, Sadaf* held her crying baby. Her daughter Reena* was hours old, and it will be years before the young child understands why people hate her.
Sadaf unfurled the shawl she had used to cover her own body and swaddled Reena. The young mother sat in the sugarcane field with her newborn, uncomfortable with all the other strangers surrounding her family. While fleeing their home into the fields for safety, she’d been separated from her husband and her father, and she didn’t know if they were safe. The others hiding in the field were also Christians— and together, they watched as their neighborhood in Jaranwala burned.
Fearful in the sugarcane field
Something moved in the sugarcane stalks next to Sadaf. She felt the sudden sting of a scorpion and fought the scream rising inside her. The pain simply added to the heartbreak she was already feeling.
Praying under her breath, she asked God to save her and her family. She says her greatest fear was that she would lose her daughter or husband to the angry men who were pouring acid over their things and burning down their town. The fear that her father and husband would be killed gripped her. If that happened, what would happen to her? She knew the risk … she could become another victim in a steady stream of Christian women in Pakistan sexually abused by evil men who treat followers of Jesus as subhuman.
Even three weeks after the attack, Sadaf was still affected by the trauma—she couldn’t release the knot in her stomach from the terror.
The dawn brings good news
That night in the sugarcane fields, all Sadaf could do was pray. She made tearful petitions to Jesus: praying to be rescued and praying for her family. The night was long.
Her mother died a year ago. As Sadaf prayed, she knew her father and husband might be dead. If they were alive, she knew they would be frantically looking for her.
Finally, as dawn broke, she found her husband and father—alive! Sadaf was in tears; they stayed in the fields together, holding each other for safety and comfort as they watched their churches and homes burn, asking God to rescue them. When the HOPE team—an Open Doors partner on the ground—met Sadaf’s family, no one had come to visit them yet. The remote village were unable to communicate with people outside their area. All routes in and out of the town had been blocked.
“We only want prayers”
“Thank you for coming to pray for us.”
Sadaf’s husband hugged one of the HOPE partners, saying they only want prayers. “We have lost our home, but God will take care of us; please pray for us,” he said. The HOPE team walked through the village and heard his simple words of gratitude: “Thank you for coming to pray for us.”
The HOPE team estimates that between 30,000 to 40,000 women and children were stung, bitten and scratched in the fields that night. Thanks to your prayers and support, HOPE teams were able to assess the health risks to the communities and take medical teams into the area to provide aid for skin infections and bites. The team also taught families impacted by the mob violence in Jaranwala how to make hygienic choices to avoid illness and infection as they recover.
The fear among the people of Jaranwala remains, with the knot in Sadaf’s stomach multiplied by thousands as Christians return home to see their churches and communities burned. Thank you for your prayers and support for them – and please continue to remember them as they recover from the trauma and rebuild their lives.
*Name changed for security reasons
- Give thanks that people, like Sadaf and her family, feel cared for by HOPE and their wider global family
- That everyone affected will heal of their pain and trauma, and that each will soon rebuild their lives
- That attitudes towards Christians in Jaranwala will soften; particularly pray this for community leaders, given their influence
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