A deadly attack on a Methodist church in Pakistan killed at least nine people, the BBC reports. According to witnesses, two militants from the Islamic State entered Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta—about 40 miles from the Afghan border—with two suicide vests on Sunday, December 17. Security stopped the attackers at the entrance where one man detonated his suicide vest, and the other man fled from police. At the moment of writing, the police had confirmed sixteen people were injured, of whom at least two are in critical condition. In Pakistan, many churches have increased security in the days leading up to Christmas. And in this case, the bombing could've been even worse if the militants had made it inside where a gathering of 400 church members worshipped. Open Doors works in Pakistan (#4 on the 2017 World Watch List) through a local network of churches called ALIVE. None of the team members of our partners were injured, but some had family members inside during the attack. "Obviously the situation is very chaotic and we fear more lives have been lost than the news is reporting," says one of the ALIVE leaders. "Perhaps as many as 20. Over 40 have sustained serious injuries. Women and children were hiding in the vestry." The ALIVE worker also said the attack was meant to frighten Christians in Pakistan away from their churches during advent. “It’s very hard. This is my mother’s childhood home," The ALIVE worker said. "The members of the church are people whom we know and love. Our phones are ringing endlessly. Some of our Bible College students have lost family members too. Just now, a woman wept on my shoulder. She just kept repeating ‘Lord, have mercy, have mercy, have mercy’, and then, ‘Lord enable us to lift our voices and cry out ‘Jesus is Lord!’ so that we may stand and not be stopped from being in church. They cannot stop us!’” Thanks to the long-term support and prayers of Christians around the world, Open Doors is able to respond quickly to provide trauma counseling and emergency aid to victims of persecution. The attack took place on the same weekend that ALIVE organized a ministry trip for a group who have just completed trauma counseling training. The trainees went to the All Saints Church in Peshawar, where scores of people were killed by terrorists in 2013. For more context on what it's like to be a Christian in Pakistan, watch this CNN special report.
Ask God to comfort the members of Bethel Memorial Methodist Church. Pray that they will be able to hold on to Jesus with all their might.
Ask God to encourage and equip the ALIVE team in Pakistan that is supported by Open Doors. Pray that God will use them as His instruments— and give them the strength necessary to minister.
Pray for the Christians in Pakistan. Pray for their physical and spiritual protection. Pray that their faith and determination to follow Jesus will be strengthened. Pray that they won’t allow the fear of terrorists to stop them from worshipping together.