Photo by Owais Aslam Ali, Pakistan Press International (PPI) / Alamy Stock Photo
As the Christian community of Jaranwala recovers from the horrific attacks, here’s how you can stand with your brothers and sisters in prayer.
On Sunday, August 20, groups of Christians in Jaranwala, Pakistan, gathered outside for church. Instead of sitting in pews or chairs, they stood beside walls singed by flames. Instead of worshiping in a church adorned with stained glass and beautiful architecture, they gathered among broken glass and piles of rubble. And instead of returning home for a family meal, many believers couldn’t go home—their house lies in ruin.
These Christians in Jaranwala are recovering from—and mourning—the violence last week that saw a violent mob attack at least 12 churches and at least two dozen homes belonging to Christians. Dozens of Bibles were burned and destroyed. And many in the Christian community were forced to flee. Praise God, there were no casualties in the attacks. But “they are worried for their safety, they are worried for their children, who witnessed the tragedy and are traumatized,” Fr. Khalid Mukhtar told the Associated Press
“their home is an empty shell of what it once was, they are homeless and have nothing.”
Open Doors local partner
Our local partners report that the situation remains tense—and that Pakistani believers are hurting
. “In the aftermath of the gruesome mob action against Christian places of worship and residences, residents began returning to what are now the ruins of their homes,” reports one local believer. “They have lost everything—their spiritual home as well as their own. No appliances, clothing or utensils are left. The sound of wailing was held back as people were too afraid to cry. They are faced with the reality that their home is an empty shell of what it once was, and they are homeless and have nothing.”
The violence stemmed from an accusation of blasphemy against two brothers who were arrested last Friday. Pages of the Quran—the Muslim holy book—were found in the street with derogatory statements written in them. An attached page included the names, addresses and identity cards of the accused, provincial police chief Usman Anwar told Reuters
. He also told Reuters that “police were investigating all angles as to why the names and addresses would be attached.”
Many international observers note that blasphemy laws in Pakistan are often used to settle personal conflicts
. Even the accusation of blasphemy can set off mob violence like what was seen in Jaranwala last week. Some suspect that the violence was planned and the accusation was just a convenient excuse for the mob attack. The Washington Post
reported that even the regional minister for information said the attacks appeared to be carefully coordinated.
The attack has left scores of Pakistani Christians without homes—and without a sense of security.
“My house is in ashes now. If the mob had so much anger, why did they burn houses and steal our belongings? Is burning the Bible not blasphemous?” Rasikh Bibi, who was among the people affected by the violence, asked Al Jazeera
“The community is reeling from the pain of this torture they have been subjected to.”
“There is severe fear among the community of Jaranwala about another attack,” says a local Christian who can’t be named for security reasons. “This fear is not limited to those who live there. The Christian leadership is also acutely aware and concerned about the risk, urging Christians to be cautious and vigilant. The community is scattered and reeling from the pain of this torture they have been subjected to.”
In the days since the attack, Pakistani authorities have arrested 160 people and begun to distribute the equivalent of $6,800 (2 million rupees)
to the nearly 100 families who had their homes attacked.
Christians in Jaranwala need basic goods, food and medicine. But our local partners tell us that, more than anything, they need our prayers
. They have walked through a dark moment in their lives, yet they have held on to their faith. As the body of Christ, let us cry out to the Lord for justice and restoration for the land of Pakistan.
Here are 10 ways we can pray with our family in Pakistan.
- Pray for people who lost their belongings. As they start rebuilding their lives, may they have God’s grace and favor at every step.
- Pray for believers who may be traumatized by the incident, especially new Christians and young children, that they will have access to the help they need and experience the warmth of God’s presence in their lives with each passing day.
- Pray for families who have been separated while running for their lives. Pray that God would reunite these families. Pray for those who are still looking for their families. May they have the peace and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
- Pray for people who are in hiding without their essential medicine. Some of them may be suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Pray that God would be their strength and ever-present help in this time of need.
- Pray for children who lost their school supplies, that God would provide for them and that this incident will not hinder their education.
- Pray for Pakistani church leaders as they shepherd their flocks through this difficult time. They also lost their homes and everything they had worked hard for in their ministry. Pray they would hold on to Jesus no matter what and have the strength to lead others as well. May they be a source of encouragement to believers in the community.
- Pray for believers who are in custody, that God will keep them safe, and that all legal proceedings will be conducted without religious bias. Pray for any innocent Christians who are caught in the crossfire and are under arrest or detainment, that they will be released without any harm.
- Pray for the police, government officials and judges as they investigate the incident and initiate legal proceedings. May they have the wisdom to differentiate lies from the truth and stay impartial in their work.
- Praise God that no lives were lost during this incident, even amid such chaos.
- Praise God for all He has done and is doing in this nation and for all the believers who are still holding on to their faith regardless of the opposition and persecution.
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