(Voice of the Persecuted) While verifying events in Pakistan, I’ve heard reports that church’s are being threatened, and Christians are fleeing Yohanabad for fear of reprisal. The latter we know to be true and verified by those on the ground. Christians in the Middle East, Africa and Asia are under a mammoth attack. Beheadings, crucifixion’s, burning alive, rape, false imprisonments and more, only because they are believers in Jesus. These Christians flee to safety or at least what they think is safety, to be met with more abuse.
Many Pakistani Christians have fled extreme persecution to Thailand seeking religious asylum with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). After their case is filed they are given an Asylum Seekers Certificate and wait for an interview, which can take up to 3 years. Due to the fact that the Thailand government does not recognize this certificate, when their visa’s expire they are considered illegal immigrants. The authorities arrest and imprison them in detention centers where they are forced to live in hideous conditions—while the world is deciding if they should step in to help.
A recent religious liberty conference was held in Thailand, this week. A conference we were invited to, but foregone based on saving funds for our active aid missions. Some of the NGO’s who attended the conference from the United States, Germany and the Netherlands took the opportunity to visit with Christian refugees. These desperate Christians fearing arrest and deportation felt a glimmer of hope that finally something may be done for their rescue. We were briefed on some of these meetings and pray actions will be taken to secure their protection, sooner than later…time is of the essence.
The International Society For Human Rights has done a recent report citing 8,000 Christians have fled Pakistan to Thailand. They describe their journey as “From Hell to Hell.” This is also the way those we speak with describe it and it’s heartbreaking. Heartbreaking to hear it in their voices and see it on their faces. A thought flashes through our minds each time, “Where are the NGO’s with large donation fund accounts? Where is the Body?” It is clear governments do not feel an urgency to do much for their aid or protection. If our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ are to be helped, it must come from the family. We must be the hands and feet of Christ. As the 1st century Christians did, we must step up to help our brethren or no one will.
Quoting the report, “The Christian refugees from Pakistan were subjected to unacceptable conditions before the wave of arrests by the Thai police and the military. The average four-person families must live together in the living room usually only 15 m². Paid employment is forbidden to refugees and brought savings often rapidly depleted.” Read the full report here. If you would like an English translation of the report, email your request to email@example.com. Your eyes will be opened wide. Take this report to your church and tell your Pastor how concerned you are for these brethren. Ask him to pray for them with the congregation and to help you encourage them to start an aid mission for the suffering.
The MSM has used the refugees for gain and then abandoned them, refusing to cover the darkness that has now enveloped those suffering. While Christians are dying in genocidal numbers from the Middle East, Africa and Asia, the world has been blinded by a sinister veil that covers persecution against Christians. The Church has also been blinded, most specifically the Western Church. The Pope has recently cried out against the treatment of Christians in Pakistan, and France has made Asia Bibi, a Christian woman awaiting a death sentence for blasphemy, an honorary citizen. But why is the world/Body continually silent and blind?
In Pakistan, arrests are being made in the aftermath of the recent murderous bombing attacks on Christian Churches. An angry mob attacked and killed 2 men who they said took part in the attacks. The milieu that the government and media has created in Pakistan has done nothing but breed fear, and a climate of violence. It then turned into a Muslim/Christian rivalry ignoring the situation of survivors in the recent attacks on the churches. Read this report of survivors being forgotten and forsaken.
In the increasing persecution against minorities, Christians have been burned alive, woman and children kidnapped and abused in unspeakable ways, targets of bombers, murdered in heinous ways, and threatened with death or conversion until they are forced into hiding. The bonded labor program many Pakistani Christians have been forced into is barbaric in itself. Christians are forced to drink from different water fountains because their faith brands them as dirty. Pakistani Christians cry, “We want to live peacefully with all our neighbors and fellow citizens. What have we done? Why are we treated like animals? Why is there so much hatred against us?” They say they don’t recognize their own country anymore. We have been told the tension is now extremely high in Pakistan and the police are ‘everywhere.’
Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – Political and religious leaders are asking the government in Punjab to set up a special Commission of inquiry regarding the massacre in Youhanabad, which deals with both the terrorist attack on March 15, and the two Christian churches (18 dead and 91 wounded), and to identify those responsible for the lynching following the massacre, when a crowd of Christians killed two suspected terrorists.
As Fides learns, a group of Christian leaders remarked the negligence in preventing terrorist violence and riots which followed. Anger and frustration grew because of impunity that exists in a number of cases of violence against Christians, they noted. In recent days, the police arrested more than 150 suspects in the lynching, many of whom “falsely accused”.
Christian leaders have criticized the Prime Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif for not having visited the Christian families after the attack. In the following days, many Christian residents had fled their homes in Youhanabad for fear of reprisals, instigated by the nearby mosques in revenge for the lynching. “The government should take care of Christians and religious minorities”, they said.
“People are gradually returning to Youhanabad”, says to Fides Joseph Nadeem, a Christian living in the suburb, head of the “Renaissance Education Foundation”, which deals with the education of poor families. “Police are releasing many of those arrested. The situation is now calm. We hope to live a peaceful Easter”.
As we approach the time that our Lord and Savior died on the Cross to give us life, and celebrate His resurrection, let’s remember those suffering persecution because they have accepted this wonderful gift. Pray through suffering and persecution, the world will see the light of Christ.
C. Refsland, VOP Advocate/News Anaylst