Pakistan (MNN) — Stabilizing a volatile ally is a major concern in US-Pakistan relations.
The chaos triggered by Benazir Bhutto's death led to the postponement of the parliamentary elections to February 18.
There was concern that an election too soon would benefit the two main opposition parties: the Pakistan Peoples Party and the pro-government Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam. Additional logistics and security issues forced the decision to a head.
Evangelist Sammy Tippit says they have partners working there. We asked if the upheaval was hurting ministry. "It's affected the church, only in the sense of the general population. There are some real concerns that our particular friends have, because of the work that they are doing. So many people coming to Christ are not from a Christian background, and that has caused them great concern."
For Tippit, the concern is personal. In 2005, extremists kidnapped and murdered Babar Shamoun, the man who had been translating Tippit's evangelistic and discipleship messages into the Pashtun language.
Shamoun had been translating for several Christian ministries in addition to STM, and he was an active pastor in the Christian community. His assistant, Daniel Emanuel, was also killed.
Instability in the region has often led to a surge of nationalist thinking, which could be dangerous for believers. Christians have often been associated with the West. Tippit says, of the church in Pakistan, "When they tell us to be praying for them, we know that that's a serious thing, that they really need us to be praying for them because we have seen friends who have been killed and murdered because of their work in reaching the non-Christian population."
While evangelism is difficult, Tippit says it's not impossible. "We've had broadcasts into Iran, Pakistan, India and that whole region of the world. So there are ways for them to hear the Gospel, and we need to just pray that the seed would be planted in fertile soil. I believe that soil is made fertile as we pray for people."
Tippit is looking into another visit into Pakistan this year as part of the follow-up of some earlier work. Pray that the situation would settle down enough for the discipleship and encouragement to be scheduled. Pray, too, for those involved in evangelistic work, that they would be bold in their faith.