Pakistan (MNN) — Christmas is very often accompanied by celebrations with friends and family. But in a number of countries, the holiday also means a spike in persecution.
Last year, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia saw brutal violence spread during the season and on Christmas Day. Children in Baghdad were killed in horrible ways. Iran hung seven Christians on Christmas morning, and Jihadists killed and tortured numerous amounts of Christians. Gatestone Institute shares several reports of cruel acts against Christians last year.
“The risk increases around the holidays because the congregations like to have large celebrations.” Bruce Allen of Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI) explains that kids will often be returning from school or a city job for a family Christmas celebration.
The swell in population attracts unwanted attention from radicals and extremists so that Christians become a larger target.
Many Christians flee or avoid the areas where persecution is high, particularly on Christmas Day. But in Pakistan (ranked #8 on the Open Doors WorldWatchList), Christian Churches are celebrating the birth of Christ under tight security, hiring thousands of policemen or security guards.
Last year in Peshawar alone, 2,000 policemen were deployed for Church and Christian protection, according to Dawn News.
As a result, the hiring of protective services has proven to be effective in more ways than one. It’s not only kept the Christian community safe, but it’s also introduced a ministry opportunity.
The surrounding celebration has helped make connections between churches and police, opening doors to dig deeper. Dawn News reports churches prayed over police and lives lost in militant attacks on last year’s Army Public School and 2013’s attack on All Saint Church.
Further, because the Christmas story is told at celebrations, “a lot of people who are not from Christian backgrounds–whether they’re helping security or other situations–have opportunity to hear the Gospel.”
Allen says churches want to plan specific outreaches during this Christmas time, including outreach to police forces, but they don’t have the necessary provisions.
FMI wants to assist them. “We’d like to be able to give a Christmas love gift to our partnering church planters and evangelists at Christmas time. The congregation, the people they serve, may not be able to do that at all. So it’s really a blessing to be able to help those dedicated servants at this time of year.”
FMI and Pakistani churches need your prayer and financial support this Christmas, to reach out, make connections, and share the Gospel story with someone who’s never heard it. Click here and select “Overseas Partners.”