Pakistan (MNN) — The Easter Day bombing in Pakistan was the bloodiest attack on Christians since the 2013 Peshawar church bombing that killed more than 80 people.
It also revealed a festering extremism in Punjab, the home province of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The government decided to go all-out against the terrorist group with ties to ISIS. On April 6, orders for were issued and military operations began. Civil and military law enforcement agencies, including Rangers, police, and Counter-Terrorism Department, are carrying out the offensive.
Bruce Allen with Forgotten Missionaries International, says first, “With Pakistan, if the military gets involved, it seems to have more teeth.”
Explaining that comment, he added, “Many common citizens in Pakistan are saying, ‘Yes. Let’s have sharia law. ISIS doesn’t sound too bad. Let’s have a caliphate.’ The government doesn’t want that, but has been ineffective in the past. They’ve never really put teeth to their pledge to rout out the radicals.”
Even with the intensive effort underway, Brother Nehemiah, Forgotten Missionaries International-Pakistan national director, warns that “Jama’at-ul-Ahrar, the brutal Taliban faction that claimed responsibility for the deadly Easter Day attack in Pakistan, has announced more attacks on the Pakistani Christians.”
Allen asked, “Do they specify cities or areas such as schools, churches, parks, hospitals, etc., that they are targeting?” Nehemiah replied, “Soft targets,” which means public places with little existing security.
Christians make up an estimated 1.6% of Pakistan’s 200 million people and have long faced discrimination. But they’ve proven they’re a resilient people, especially now. “Many of our partners serve in Lahore. They’re in the throes of counseling grieving families, performing funerals, just coming together as a wider Christian community and saying, ‘We need to support each other. We need to process.’”
Plus, in a city like Peshawar, Pakistan, where there have been suicide bombing attacks against churches and schools killing hundreds of people, Allen says hundreds of people are also finding new life through a relationship with Jesus Christ. “There are many Muslims who do not like what they see happening, and they are willing to engage in conversation with our evangelists, with people in the churches who are FMI-supported partners, who are teaching them how to engage in evangelism within their own culture.”
Their partners are seeing an 80% positive response rate to the Gospel when Bibles in print or audio are distributed. “Those who are ready to share the Gospel with respect and gentleness, they’re having a voice, and opportunity to radiate light in a very dark place.” That’s why FMI would like to further empower their indigenous partners by providing 1000 printed Bibles across all their fields of operations, with a breakdown as follows: 600 pieces in Pakistan, 300 in Indonesia, and 100 in Bangladesh.
For Pakistan, where literacy rates are low, they want to distribute another 500 Scripture audio CDs as well as produce the master recording of an exciting new Q&A-format evangelistic CD. This Pashto-language evangelism CD would include the recording of a question-and-answer forum in which about three well-versed, theologically-credible Muslim-Background Believers [MBBs] will participate.
“Queries will be chosen to shake the souls of non-Christians,” according to Nehemiah, “provide solid Christian apologetics, and nourish their quest to know Truth.” Following recording, FMI partners would distribute an initial run of 500 copies of the CD to pair with the audio Scripture CD.
In each of field of operations, printed Bibles typically cost $6 each; audio CDs run about $1.25 per in addition to the expense of making the master recording ($500). Contributions for these expenses should be made to FMI’s Tangible Resources account.