Published: 00:01 GMT Standard Time - Friday 19 March 2010
Praying for the Persecuted Church in Lent - Pakistan
Project(s): 41-331, 41-432, 41-465, 41-499, 41-697, 41-839
Tradition traces the beginnings of Christianity in Pakistan to the apostle Thomas, and some churches in the Indian subcontinent have a long history. But the Church in what is now Pakistan was wiped out by Islam in the 14th century, and did not re-establish a presence until the 16th century. An increase in missionary activity from the 19th century led to the conversion of many people, mainly Hindus, between 1890 and 1930, and missions continued to operate even after Pakistan’s independence in 1947. Christians are now the largest non-Muslim religious group in the country, but the approximately 4 million people comprise only about 2.5% of the population. Pakistan is 96% Muslim.
The history of Pakistan since independence in 1947 has been one of slow and gradual Islamisation. Sharia law has been partially implemented, and has a significant place in the legal and taxation systems and in public life generally. The “blasphemy law” prescribes the death penalty for “defiling the name of” Muhammad, and a life sentence is mandatory for desecration of the Qur‘an. Many false and malicious accusations of blasphemy are made, and Christians are very vulnerable to accusations by Muslims.
Social, political and even legal discrimination against Christians is widespread. As a result most can get only menial and low-paid jobs, and therefore live in poverty, despised by their Muslim neighbours. Their testimony in court may be treated as of less worth than a Muslim’s. Many Christian girls are abducted and forced to convert to Islam. Last year saw an unprecedented number of violent incidents against Christian communities, in which many homes and churches were burned by Muslim mobs and some Christians died.
Feeding needy Christian families (Ref. 41-331)
Support for Pakistani evangelists (Ref. 41-432)
Legal team defending Christian victims (Ref. 41-465)
Christian school (Ref. 41-499)
Women’s health and education project (Ref. 41-697)
Victims of mob violence in Gojra and Korian (Ref. 41-839)
Christians in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan are coming under increasing pressure to live according to Islamic customs, and in some places sharia is being strictly enforced.
- Pray for our brothers and sisters, that the Lord will keep them safe in the midst of violence and instability, and ask that they may find strength and hope in the Lord Jesus.
- Pray too that the progress of Islamist groups in Pakistan will be checked and then reversed, and that mob violence against Christians will cease.