Pakistan (MNN) — Fire destroyed a Christian TV station in Karachi, Pakistan, last week. Christians in the area are concerned it was more than an accident.
“It is rare to have indigenous Christian media in Pakistan,” says Bruce Allen of Forgotten Missionaries International. Gospel workers in the predominantly-Muslim nation have to be careful. Pakistan is listed as a country with an extremely high level of persecution, according to Open Doors World Watch List. The country’s blasphemy laws create a tense environment for those not of the Muslim faith, but Allen said the Christian-oriented shows broadcast on the Gawahi Mission Trust television station never ridiculed Islam or in any way violated the law.
When the station employees came to the scene after the fire, they found their means of outreach to the community was destroyed. Police said the fire appeared to be an accident: a short circuit in the wiring or the station’s equipment. But Allen says the Christian TV station staff felt the police did not thoroughly investigate the possibility that the fire was set intentionally.
First, the lock on the door was cut, Allen explains. The police could not explain that, nor why the fire seemed to be contained to specific areas of the building.
“No draperies, no wooden infrastructure was burned. Only certain valuable equipment, CDs, and literature were burned,” he says. While GMT staff was looking through the charred remains, they also noticed some of the equipment was missing. “The cameras used for the broadcasts were missing, suggesting they were actually stolen…torching certain elements to cover the theft,” he said.
The loss of the television station is a disappointment, but the police’s response to the fire is particularly disheartening to Allen. “It’s a real problem when things like this happen for Christians and police say, ‘There was no theft here. It must have been a short circuit.’”
Because of the lack of government intervention, it is not just groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda and the Taliban that Christians have to be concerned about,” Allen laments. Individuals begin to see that they can act against Christians with impunity.
The trust that operates the station will have to decide whether to continue this ministry, he says. Often, when Christians decide to rebuild a ministry that was damaged like this station, they go back and try to put it back together, and it is just vandalized again a week or a month later. The trust will have to decide if they could use their funds better somewhere else.
But, whether the Christian TV station reopens or not, Allen says the FMI partners in Pakistan are still sharing the Gospel with the community.
“Most of the people of Pakistan are ambivalent to terrorism and are looking for hope,” he shares. “And Jesus draws people to situations and to people like that.”
Prayers for organizations like FMI and GMT are crucial as they try to find the best ways to share the Good News in such an environment. While Christians are told they need to be careful of how they behave, Allen says they also need to be committed and to be bold with the Gospel. “It’s a very dark place–Pakistan, but the light shines brightest against a dark sky.”
For details on FMI’s work in Pakistan, click here.