A persecution conference in London heard about the long-term impact on Christians in Pakistan, of the Lahore bomb attack and the growing violence against the Christian community in Pakistan.
Release International staged the conference, ‘Blessed are the Persecuted?’ at the Emmanuel Centre, Marsham Street, London, in June.
Release is sending counsellors to Pakistan to help victims traumatised by the Easter bomb blast, which claimed more than 70 lives and maimed and injured around 300.
Release has also launched a petition on Change.org, calling for the repeal of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which are often used to attack Christians. Release describes the laws as ‘a root of persecution’.
A pastor from Pakistan, who has been helping grieving families, described the devastation in the Christian community after the Lahore bomb attack. The suicide bomber had packed ball bearings around the explosives to maximise injuries to families celebrating Easter near a play area in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park.
Pastor Waseem wept openly as he told the stories of some of the victims, including a child: ‘This young boy, Samuel, went to the park with his bat and ball to enjoy the Easter celebrations. The ball bearings went through him. He now has ball bearings in his bladder. Yesterday my team took him to the hospital for an operation’.
Pain and forgiveness
‘A lady, Sara, had a ball bearing in her brain. She’s under treatment. A man also has a ball bearing in his brain and is losing his memory. Twenty-five people are under treatment. We are praying for them, meeting with them’.
Kate Ward, conference organiser and head of Release’s ministry to women, said: ‘Christians are coming to terms with the fact that this kind of pain is part and parcel of the Christian life in Pakistan. The amazing thing is that they understand the Bible’s teaching and somehow many find it in their hearts to forgive’.
Also speaking at the conference was Tabitha (not her real name), a young woman from Egypt. She talked about the hostility and violence from a man who threatened the future of the family’s business and verbally abused Tabitha and her younger sister.
Tabitha said, ‘My father locked himself in a room for 10 days and cried like a baby. He hated the fact he could not protect his family nor provide for us’. However, she added, ‘But I knew such depth of peace in this time. Yes, I cried, but I knew Jesus in a very deep and comforting way’.
Teaching on the profound biblical lesson of blessing in persecution, Christian apologist and member of Release’s Council of Reference Amy Orr-Ewing, said, ‘I have never experienced such worship as that of being alongside Chinese church leaders facing incredible hardship and persecution!’
Release’s petition, ‘Repeal Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws’, can be signed online at Change.org or through the Release website.