For Christians in Pakistan, the New Year has begun with attacks on their worship places, including one church being set on fire.
On 7th January, a church roof was set on fire in Manga Mandi, on the outskirts of Lahore. The Apostolic Church is in the village of Baath, where about 50 Christian families live.
The catechist, Dildar Masih, told World Watch Monitor: “The fire gutted the roof, but it could not enter the building because the iron doors were closed.”
“The police were called, who initially said it was a short circuit, but there were no electric wires near the fire and none were burned. Also, the church boundary wall had footprints, suggesting someone had scaled it. None of us saw anyone entering or leaving the church, so the suspect remains unidentified.”
Five hours later, at the Victory Church in Sandha Phatak, an intruder set fire to bibles and hymn books, before he was caught and locked inside.
Saddiqa Bibi discovered the man at about 6.30am, when she came for morning worship. She rushed back to tell her husband, John Masih.
“My wife and I immediately returned to the church and I locked the door from outside,” Masih told World Watch Monitor.
“We gathered other Christians, who informed the police, who arrived in about half an hour. Until then, the man first threatened us and then tried to bribe us. He also said that he was quite influential and that nothing could be done to him … The police took him into custody the same day, pending a medical assessment for mental health, and we hope justice will be done.”
Human rights activists Khalid Shahzad and Napoleon Qayyum told World Watch Monitor that the police suggested the suspect might have been insane and lit a fire to keep warm.
“It is unbelievable that the man came 200 kilometres to warm himself in very foggy weather, and entered a church where he only burned religious books,” they said. “Imagine if it happened in a mosque and the suspect had been a Christian. Imagine then how the police might have treated him and how others would have treated the suspect, and how Christians of the area would have suffered too.”
- Pray for Christians in Pakistan, who face growing hostility and opposition because of their faith.
- Pray for the Pakistan Church, to grow strong, despite the problems and opposition towards it.
- Pray for a move of the Holy Spirit across Pakistan, for many to encounter Christ through dreams and visions, as well as through the witness of Christians in the country.
- Pray that the Pakistan government will take seriously its responsibility and promises to protect Christians and other ethnic minorities in the country.
John 16 vs 33: “I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!’ “