SAD NEWS OUT OF PAKISTAN
A dear sister and Sahiwal Church of Christ member in Pakistan passed away. She is preceded in death by her husband and has worked hard to support the four children she leaves behind, two boys and two girls. Brother Naeem reports that she was a faithful believer, baptized many years ago. Please pray for these children and our brothers and sisters at Sahiwal.
CHRISTIANS IN PAKISTAN
All Pakistani Christians face difficulties, discrimination, and persecution because of their Christian identity. Like Naeem Sabir of Sahiwal Church of Christ, Evangelists take significant risks to witness to Muslims, baptize converts, and gather them into the church. Many Christians are working tirelessly to equip, encourage and educate Christian youth. Some Christians boldly share the gospel and distribute God's Word in radicalized Muslim neighborhoods and cities, some home to Islamic extremist groups like the Taliban. However, most Christians are treated as second-class citizens forced to work long hours in labor-intensive jobs while oppressed by schemes that keep them in bondage to their employers.
Approximately 98 percent of Pakistanis are Sunni and Sufi Muslims. Unfortunately, Pakistan underreports its Christian population, so accurate statistics are unavailable. However, there are roughly 4 million Pakistani Christians, nearly 2 percent of the nation's population.
Christian converts from Islam and Pakistanis born into Christian families are persecuted by their communities, Islamic extremist groups, and the government.
WHAT IT MEANS TO FOLLOW CHRIST IN PAKISTAN
Because of Pakistan's blasphemy laws, Christians are at constant risk of being falsely accused of blaspheming Islam, the Quran, or Muhammad, and they receive harsh punishments when convicted. Street evangelism is legal under Pakistani law, and several bold evangelists take advantage of the opportunity to share the gospel publicly. Many Christians live together in closed neighborhoods known as colonies, which provide a measure of security amid the widespread oppression. Still, several large-scale attacks have occurred in these areas in recent years, including some during Christmas. Most Christians are trapped in a cycle of poor education and poverty. Often, they can only get jobs that result in indentured servitude in brick kilns or as street sweepers or sewage workers. Christians can be imprisoned for years under the country's blasphemy laws, and many have been killed or forced to flee the country upon release.
ACCESS TO BIBLES
Bibles can be legally printed and distributed in Pakistan. However, some Islamist groups oppose the Bible. As a result, those living in rural, tribal, and mountainous areas have little access to God's Word. Translation efforts are ongoing.
Pray for impoverished believers and those imprisoned for their faith. Pray for the overturning of blasphemy laws, and religious freedom will flourish. Pray that believers will understand who they are in Christ and be unashamed of the gospel. Finally, pray for believers' courage, wisdom, and protection when sharing the Good News.