Pakistan (MNN) — One hundred and ninety million… that’s a big number. When you put it in terms of people, it’s impossible to picture in your mind. And yet this number represents the 99 percent of Pakistan’s population in general, and also the number who don’t know Jesus and instead practice Islam.
These numbers, as reported by The Joshua Project, only give us a glimpse of the challenge the Church faces in this country. The other challenge? Persecution.
Pakistan is number six on the Open Doors World Watch List for Christian persecution. As we count down to the International Day of Prayer for the persecuted Church, we wanted to remind you how to pray for Pakistan.
Just last month, a new chapter in Asia Bibi’s story began when the court delayed her appeal once more. The horrors of honor killings of people who have converted to Christianity are regular news. Terrorism against Christians is applauded by many.
Forgotten Missionaries International works within Pakistan to support the Church in this country any way they can.
Bruce Allen of FMI says, “Pakistan is the sixth most dangerous place in the world to live as a Christian, based on levels of persecution.”
This persecution manifests in a couple of ways. One is on a social level. It’s random action against Christians in general. This includes daily discrimination and terror attacks. But then there’s the more personal level. This happens when a believer is persecuted by their family and friends for choosing to follow Christ.
Allen says the reality for minorities in Pakistan today is sort of ironic given that the country was created to protect a minority — Muslims in a region of Hindus. “They don’t extend that safe haven attitude towards existing minorities in their realms, even minority Muslims,” Allen says.
Despite the fact that the government views Christians as a threat, Allen says, “The Christians in Pakistan are very dedicated. They love their countrymen, they love God. So they’re very eager in their service of planting Churches and discipling people.”
FMI partners with indigenous church planters to increase this work. They support the church leaders with a monthly income so they can stay in the ministry, they help provide the resources to build churches, and they even are supporting a safe home network for Christians who are in danger.
They operate through 120 ministry sites with eight added just in this last year. FMI also works in Bangladesh and Indonesia — two other Muslim majority countries where persecution exists, but it isn’t as harsh. In fact, while they are in the top 50 of Open Doors World Watch List, Pakistan remains in the top ten.
“What’s really encouraging, even though it can sound kind of ironic that Pakistan is one of the hardest places to live as a Christian, this is the place where more evangelism is being done and more people are coming to Christ than we’re seeing the in the other countries where we operate combined.”
There are several ways to help the Pakistani Church. The first is to pray. Allen leads us:
“Lord Jesus, we recognize that You are the Sovereign of all nations. From our own homeland to nations that are on the other side of the planet, You are the one who is in control. We praise You for that, and the faithfulness that You have shown across generations and that You are working your plan out for the nations.
“Right now, we just lift up the nation of Pakistan and the Christians who do live there under some very difficult circumstances. We pray for their encouragement, that they would be fortified by You, by the love that is demonstrated by Christians around the world for them so they would be empowered to advance the Gospel in their communities and change the face of their nation.
“We pray for the government, that You would convict its leadership regarding the anti-blasphemy laws, about the injustice being perpetrated against people who are imprisoned unjustly.
“And for those who are persecuted in a more invisible way — by their own family. We lift those people up to You, that You would bring healing, that You would touch their bodies and restore the broken bones, the broken hearts and mend them and provide for them safe places to live and to thrive and to be Your beacon of hope and truth and grace in that nation. We pray these things in the name of Christ and for the sake of His name, Amen.”
If you’d like to support the Pakistan Church financially, click here.
We’ll leave you with this thought from Allen: “We are members of one another. If one suffers, we all suffer. So, as the Body of Christ, we have an obligation to help each other even if we’re geographically distant from people. And we give strong testimony to the fact that we are one in the Lord.”