Pakistan (MNN) — A 140-foot bulletproof cross is towering over skyscrapers in the most unlikely of places: Pakistan.
According to Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI), more than 95% of the Pakistani population is Muslim and less than 1% is Christian, leaving the community unbalanced and vulnerable.
For years, believers have faced intense and gruesome persecution from ISIS, the government, and Muslim extremists. On the Open Doors World Watch List, Pakistan stands at #8.
Hope or Division?
Pervez Henry Gill, the donor and man who had the dream of building the monument in the first place, told the Washington Post he wanted it to be a beacon of hope for Christians, letting them know they have a brighter future.
He’s having it built in the country’s capital, Karachi, which is known for its ruthlessness and lawless violence.
“It will be a symbol of God, and everybody who sees it will be worry-free,” he said.
But, will this cross actually help the persecution subside, or will it make attacks skyrocket?
Bruce Allen of FMI says, “Tensions are at an all-time high in terms of the division between Muslims and other religious minorities in the country…. It could end up backfiring, not becoming a symbol of hope but almost a target and a challenge.”
Allen adds that the FMI Pakistan Director has been hearing more conversations between Muslims in the streets about eradicating minority religions in Pakistan.
“I hope it doesn’t encourage division. I know it’s not Mr. Gill’s intention to encourage division.”
In some cases, Gill prevented divisions by hiring both Muslims and Christians to build it. Gill said there was trouble at first when about 20 Muslims quit in protest. But surprisingly, others stayed.
Right now, Muslims and Christians are working alongside each other to build what will be the largest cross in Asia.
Practical or Novelty?
Though the cross does reach out to persecuted Christians, some are wondering about its practicality. Could there have been a better way to reach out to help hurting believers?
“While this is a nice, novel thing that is going to bring high visibility to that cross itself, I’m not sure what it’s going to do for the people of Pakistan in general.” Allen says, pointing out that Gill has an expendable income.
“I think there would’ve been more effective ways of instilling hope. He could be doing some things in a much more tangible way to relay Christ’s compassion to the people who have been persecuted, to fortify churches and pastors in their roles and their communities.”
Allen believes if persecution escalates in the country, Christians will need more than a symbol.
“FMI, for example, operates a network of safe houses where people from persecuted situations…can get medical attention, counseling, theological training.”
Their budget is limited, though. Trying to provide utilities, groceries, and medical supplies for all 3 safe houses is nearly impossible. You can help with the expenses by clicking here. Your support will help meet basic needs and provide Bibles in Pakistani languages.
Pray for Christians in Pakistan to find acceptance and encouragement in the cross. Pray also for their safety.