The Episcopal News Service has just published a story on the challenges and resilience of Christians, a persecuted minority in Pakistan – just 1.5 percent of a population of 180 million, many imprisoned, falsely accused, harrassed and killed by extremist elements of a Muslim majority. Particularly recently:
Last month, two bomb blasts in a Christian neighborhood of the Pakistani city of Lahore killed 17 people and wounded more than 70 as worshipers attended Sunday Mass at St. John’s Roman Catholic Church and Christ Church, a Church of Pakistan church and a member of the Anglican Communion.
Response and support have come from the Anglican and Episcopal churches:
Bishop Irfan Jamil of the Diocese of Lahore talked about the priorities for his church and community after the bombings.
Jamil and his team have been visiting the bereaved and those injured by the bomb blasts, the release said. Episcopal Relief & Development has sent a solidarity grant to enable the church to respond to those in need following the attacks.
The Church of Pakistan (United) and the Roman Catholic Church held a joint funeral service for the victims. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby joined the service by phone and his prayers were translated and shared with the mourners.
The Very Reverend Patrick Augustine, Pakistani by birth, rector of Christ Episcopal in La Crosse, Wisconsin, preached in January at All Saints Anglican Church in Peshawar, the site of a bombing in 2012 that took 127 lives (pictured above).
“The terrorists believe they have a cause to impose Islam by violent force, beheadings and detonating explosives to kill those whose belief systems differ,” he added. “Suffering is everywhere and it has overwhelmed our humanity.”
Christians in Pakistan are “pounded by Islamists in brutal suicide bombings, daily harassment and imprisonments,” Augustine said.
Yet the faith and history of these congregations is what sustains them:
The Rev. Canon Robert Edmunds, Middle East partnership officer for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, said: “We sometimes hear the term ‘Christian presence’ in the Middle East and it sounds passive and lacking in vitality when the truth of the matter for those who live there is quite different. The Christian presence throughout the region is about Christians whose family and religious roots reach back to the time of Christ. These are not sojourners in a strange and foreign land, but people whose lives are an integral part of the landscape, the history, the culture and the traditions which have and continue to shape each generation.”
Posted by Cara Ellen Modisett