Pakistan (MNN) – There’s no love lost between Pakistan and India and that was glaringly obvious this week at the G20 economic summit, hosted by China.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi essentially threw Pakistan under the bus. Without naming names, he claimed that “one single nation in South Asia is spreading these agents of terror in countries of our region.” Bruce Allen of Forgotten Missionaries International says,”There’s cause for people to say that because they look at Pakistan and say ‘yes, you are helping us’, but at other times, ‘it looks like you’re helping the terrorists.’ People go back a few years and they’ll say ‘it looked like Osama bin Laden was hiding in the backyard of the military, so to speak, and you guys were doing nothing about it’.”
Pakistan hit back and accused India of financing terror, claiming “open evidence is available of India’s involvement in subversive activities”. These phrases could cost millions in foreign aid. The war of words has the potential to evolve into much more. It’s a volatile situation that groups like FMI are monitoring closely. “They’re both nuclear powers. We should be concerned about terrorism in that area of the world. It has India on the one side with some poor relations, but on the other side, they have Afghanistan and a very porous border in which terrorists are coming across that border into Pakistan.”
Global pressure in the form of foreign aid dollars could further increase Pakistan’s isolation. Does it change anything? For the ones most affected by the extremist terrorists, the Christians, the answer is ‘not really’, says Allen. “Socially, they already feel intense discrimination and persecution, but they also feel like they get no help, as Pakistani citizens, from their own government. They’re left to fend for themselves. They often don’t feel like they’re going to get justice n the courts.”
Religious freedom has been waning due to the Islamic extremists operating with near impunity throughout Pakistan. And yet, “The Gospel is spreading. Muslims are coming to know Christ. They are the ones who are eager to share their faith with the rest of their families, or people in their village.”
For example, Allen met with a new believer this summer, a rickshaw driver named Saladin*, who shared what happened after he took on a Christian passenger one day. They started talking and became friends. Over time, the Christian shared the Gospel with him and gave him a JESUS Film DVD and a New Testament. As a result, he now says, “’I want to be trained in how to share the Gospel with my family, with other colleagues and the people in the street that I pick up in my rickshaw.’” FMI wants to come alongside those evangelists, those church planters, the people who are discipling people like Saladin, the rickshaw driver, Allen says. “We want to help you disciple these people because they’re the ones who are then further radiating the Gospel in the really dark corners of society.”
Is there risk? Definitely. New attacks take place on a near daily basis, but the hope of Christ draws people who are searching for Yaweh. Even with a blasphemy law in place, FMI says they’re still seeing growth. “We provided the funds for the construction of two new churches in Pakistan just this summer. We have plans to fund construction for two more for the rest of 2016.” It doesn’t take millions of dollars in foreign aid to put a dent in the darkness that is pressing down on Pakistan, Allen notes. (Click here for ways you can come alongside) It only takes a commitment of $100 each month to propel a local church planter, empowering him to impact the lives of hundreds of Pakistanis in four or five villages at a time. “In a dark place, hope dazzles brightly.”
*Not his real name