Pakistan (MNN) — Nehemiah*, an FMI ministry leader in Pakistan, was beaten by police, but has been released and is now free. Read more about Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws here. Nehemiah has run afoul of these laws before.
Bruce Allen of FMI explains, “A few years ago he was charged falsely with blasphemy speaking against the Quran [and] Muhammad. This carries a death penalty. And amazingly, he was acquitted by the courts because they said, ‘You know, there’s a lack of evidence here.’ But that still did not deter his accusers. They wanted him dead.”
“So they’ve issued two fatwas against him through a mosque and madrassa that essentially say, ‘Wherever you find him, hunt him down and killed him.’ It gives impunity to any Pakistani citizen in the country to actually murder Nehemiah.”
Allen has just returned from an FMI trip to Pakistan, and Nehemiah stayed behind to finish filming a video. Then, he was summoned to a police station for a meeting. Nehemiah suspected the meeting was false, but he knew the police could prevent him from leaving the country, so he went anyway.
His lawyer went with him, but the police separated the two. Allen says, “During that time he was tortured, beaten with a rubber pipe across the back. I’ve seen photos of the welts, the bruises, the bleeding from his back. They were trying to get him to confess to blasphemy, which he did not commit. And to use that recording of such a confession as evidence then to kill him.”
Nehemiah confessed to being a follower of Jesus Christ during the beatings, but not to any blasphemy charges. Finally, his lawyer got the courts involved and retrieved him safely. Nehemiah was hurt, of course, but described himself as “stronger in spirit.”
Christian troubles in Pakistan
Still, it is a setback for Nehemiah, who is leaving the country. He had hoped to continue ministry in Pakistan after being acquitted of the blasphemy charges. Allen says, “He was moving around with complete freedom while I was there. But we didn’t know that there was this meeting. So we are alerted to the fact that people are still hunting for him and people in places of positions of authority and power. So, we would like to keep him in his safe place for a while longer.”
Allen says Pakistan is cracking down against churches and parachurch ministries in the country. He says of the new churches they visited, “I was amazed to see how courageous these young believers are people who’ve only placed the faith in Jesus Christ in the last two or three years.”
Continue praying that the Holy Spirit would empower these Christians and would break the hostile forces opposing them in Pakistan.
Allen recognizes this struggle. “I continue to be astounded. God is at work, and yet, the enemy is taking notice of this and trying to squash Gospel ministry. But the gates of hell will not prevail against the advance of the Church.”
Nehemiah’s back is sore, he told Allen. He still feels a lot of pain. Pray that he will recover quickly and will be encouraged by Christ.
*name changed for security purposes
Katpana Desert in Pakistan, the highest cold desert in the world. (Header image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)