Missions and Martyrs

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By Chaplain Farris Robertson.

During the Sunday morning Protestant services at St. Dominic's Church in Behawalpur, Pakistan, four bearded, masked murderers entered the front door after killing the armed guard who had been hired to protect the c

With automatic assault rifles and bags of ammunition in hand, for several minutes the cowardly men sprayed gunfire across the congregation of fifty or sixty believers, killing the pastor, four children, four women, and six men. Shamoon Masih, a congregant who was twice shot but still helped the wounded children, described the evil act, "They had no mercy for the children. They had no mercy for the women. They could see that small children were being hit by bullets, but they kept firing."

While there have been few arrests, blame should be properly focused on Islamic fundamentalist religious leaders who continue to fuel the fire of hatred toward America and her predominant faith in God. Since October 7, various Pakistani religious leaders have issued a fatwah (decree) that there should be "two Pakistani Christians killed for each Afghan killed by United States air strikes".While the latest excuse for Christian persecution is the American bombing in Afghanistan, it is nothing new for Pakistani Christians to be abused, beaten, arrested, and even put to death.

Three years ago in Nowshera, Pakistan, a family of nine Christians, including two babies, were found hacked to death in their home with this slogan painted on the wall in their blood, "No more black magic in Nowshera". Also in 1998, in protest, the Roman Catholic bishop of Faisalabad, John Joseph, publicly committed suicide to protest against a blasphemy law under which several Christians have been condemned to death. Although the verdicts were overturned on appeal, Christians charged with blasphemy against Islam have been murdered by Islamic fundamentalists before their cases reached the courts. In 1997, a retired judge, Mr. Justice Arif Iqbal Husain Bhatti of Lahore, Pakistan, was shot three times in the head for having overturned a blasphemy conviction against a Christian who had been convicted while Justice Bhatti was still sitting on the bench.

Just last August; militant Muslims for proselytizing have killed a 23-year-old Bible college student. He got in an argument with, and was then kidnapped by, radical Muslims. His body was found a week later in front of the gate of his church with a letter attached that read, "Stop Preaching to Muslims."

In Rawalpindi, Pakistan, five Christian families were dragged from their homes and savagely beaten during anti-American protests. Few of those persecuted have been Americans, but Christianity is associated with America, and that creates sufficient delusions for the Muslim extremists to justify their evil acts.

While Pakistan's constitution guarantees religious freedom, there is a steady stream of attacks on Christians by Muslim zealots, usually in the poor areas of Punjab where the country's Christians are concentrated. In Pakistan today, there are about 4 million Christians in this country of 140 million. With recent events in Afghanistan and Pakistan, many of those brothers and sisters are nervous.

The Taliban's Mullah Omar continues to cry out against America as the Great Satan. Pakistani Muslim clerics heed the call and repeat it. Both countries use their "legal" systems to keep their population enslaved to Islamic doctrine. Propaganda is rampant in almost all media outlets as Muslims around the world are purposely deceived and told that America persecutes Muslims. These lies being spread about the western world originate in evil, prejudice and ignorance, all at the expense of those new Christian believers who have earnestly sought the Truth.

The stories of religious intolerance are common, but not just in Pakistan. Throughout the world Christians go about sharing the Gospel with some measures of great success, and sometimes with serious consequences. We must remember to be bonded with those who suffer, especially those who suffer for our Lord: "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body." (Hebrews13: 3)

If we accept and share their difficulties, if we pray constantly for their relief, we benefit not only them and the entire world, but also ourselves.

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