Our vision is to create a network of Pakistanis united in Christ, focused on better quality of life, fellowship and religious freedom for Christians in Pakistan and the UK.
Brave Christians across Pakistan have attended their Christmas Eve services despite knowing they are the primary target for Islamist hatred during this
Read this Breitbart article (click here) and this one from CBN News (click here)
Today during the Christmas service at Bethel Memorial Methodist Church the atmosphere was one of sombre reflection as the church gathered together for the first time since 9 members of their congregation were slain by Islamist assassins. The attack which occurred on Sunday 17th December caused 62 casualties in addition to those who lost their lives, many of whom are still in critical condition as doctors attempt to keep the death toll below double figures.
Doctors battled to save lives.
Pastor Simon Bashir was advised to take some time off due having to counsel so many of his congregation through the brutal slaying and violence meted out on them and family members. However he refused to stay at home and joined the flock he serves to the great pleasure of all. The congregation can be seen singing in video below:
The bravery of those who are in attendance cannot be ignored, many of them have lost their loved ones or have had to patch themselves up in time to attend the service, desperate to do their perceived duty to God. Over 300 parishioners attended the service despite the political machinations and urgent repairs to the building that meant a final decision was only made yesterday. Michael Masih said:
"This is the most holy day in the Christmas Calendar, nothing man-made, no bomb or gun could keep God's people away. We have all been rearing to get back to church despite our losses, knowing full well it is our duty to celebrate the birth of Christ that gives us hope.
"It is through His birth that we are able to one day see all of those who have been martyred again.
"Besides Jesus Christ died the most brutal death possible so that we might have eternal life beyond this frail mortal existence."
The Christmas Eve service was presided over by Bishop Daniel Sadiq, with the local Pastor Simon Bashir providing assistance. Many of the parishioners would have preferred for Pastor Bashir to lead the service but that is another story and the number of TV cameras at the venue was surely a deciding factor.
At the beginning of the service Bishop Daniel thanked the many young people who committed themselves to cleaning and repairing the church in time for the service, a process that would have meant for many that they were removing and clearing the blood and body parts of close relatives.
Mehwish Bhatti our lead Pakistan officer attended the service after flying to Quetta early in the morning, she said:
"It was wonderful to be part of this important service and to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who have suffered so much pain over the last week. To join them and celebrate the birth of Christ was for me an amazing experience.
"The service was opened with a worship song titled 'We are nothing without you Lord' words that Pakistani Christians understand intimately.
"Bishop Daniel preached using the Christmas Message in Luke 2:8-20 to guide his sermon and retold the wonderful birth of Christ that changed the future of our planet.
"It was so surreal attending a church with bullet holes and the residual effects from the blast of an explosive device. But I have done this before after the Lahore twin church attack and will no doubt be required to attend similar services soon after future attacks.
"Despite the military presence outside the church I did not feel safe and I am sure many others were equally anxious. Like them I prayed to God for safety and he ensured I was safe.
The 'Islamic State' a group who intend to bring the world to the submission of Islam later during the evening of the day of the attack claimed responsibility for this latest Pak-Church terrorist strike, in what is being described as their first targeting of Christians. This news caused caused great anxiety amongst the trustees of the BPCA who for some time had been challenging the Government of Pakistan to curb the proliferation of groups purporting to be affiliated to IS. Many of these groups have been writing threatening letters to churches in their communities since 2015, demanding their congregations convert to Islam or face Iraq and Syria style beheadings.
At the time BPCA instructed threatened churches to contact their local army officials to see if any help would be forthcoming. Sadly the response from
the army was pathetic and puerile. The Pak-army began to write to local churches warning them that attacks from IS were imminent and that they were
purging IS sympathisers from their ranks. An article made it into Christian Today (click here) our original report can be found (here).
Instead of offering protection the army in their tacit recognition of the utterly vulnerable state of Christians and Christian institutions in Pakistan, caused great panic and anxiety. Most churches just buried their heads in the sand hoping the problem would somehow just naturally disappear. But BPCA continued to warn the Government a process which we stepped up after a smaller timed explosive device killed a 7 year old and injured a 4 year old in the province of Quetta on the 1st of December. An attack that the government attempted to prevent media attention for (click here).
Tomorrow on Christmas day the parishioners return for their Christmas service. The church is expected to have an even bigger attendance and parishioners and Mehwish are asking for your prayers for their safety.
Mehwish was newly married in October and may have to spend Christmas without her husband after the airline made a late cancellation of his flight form Lahore to Quetta. It is hoped he might be able to join her tomorrow and she has asked for people to pray for the flights to reopen tomorrow.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, said:
"We have been praying for the church to be ready in time for the local parishioners, as we knew it was what the congregation wanted. They desired a time to grieve together and to worship their Lord Jesus Christ who they know is the only one that can bring any solace.
"That the youth in the church have been able to restore the church so rapidly and magnificently is a testament to their efforts and their love of God. They are a beacon of hope for Christians across the globe.
"The brave people of this church have returned triumphantly back to their spiritual home despite only last Sunday having been subjected to a brutal unwarranted attack. They have proven themselves to be brave beyond measure and an example to anyone who has ever faced any bullying or persecution before. No words can express the complete admiration I have for them - I thank God that they have made my own struggles seem so miniscule."
Our emergency appeal is still open as we have only met a fraction of the victims and have already committed most of the donations raised towards funeral fees and medical costs, if you can help please donate by using one these options (here)
Images of service
Mehwish Bhatti wearing her chequered coat attends the service.
Two sets of funerals were held only days earlier
Tears have been shed for those lost to this latest Islamist brutality.
Pastor Adil has visited the funerals and counselled bereaved families.
Pastor Adil provided flowers for every victim.