Pakistani Christians are asking for prayers over the latest critical confrontation between the government and the Taliban. As the Taliban prepares to submit a list of prisoners that they want released by the government, rising violence seems a warning of things to come. Though this news has major national ramifications, the fallout will most directly impact Christians and the church.
In essence, there are three types of Christian groups in Pakistan: the traditional churches, such as Catholics or Anglicans which have been in the country since the late 18th century, the non-traditional Protestant groups, and Christian converts from a Muslim background (MBB). MBBs, if discovered, face the strongest opposition, and therefore, will keep their conversion secret or even relocate for security reasons. But if a rumor on blasphemy spreads, mobs frequently target Christians without caring about denominations.
Pakistan ranks #8 on the 2014 World Watch List, a rise from 2013 when it ranked #14. In previous years, the position of Christians did not change much, but they continued to be under enormous pressure by government and social groups. The actual increase in 2014 is partly due to an increased level of violence, but also due to a sharp increase in a hostile attitude of society towards Christians.
This is reflected in the 2013 update report on “Global Restrictions on Religion” by Pew Forum saying that the sharp rise can be partially explained by the 2013 general elections where most candidates courted Islamic extremist groups.
Believers in Pakistan ask that we please keep praying against the agenda of the Taliban and other groups who are now openly making their case for the implementation of Sharia Law saying, “We greatly appreciate your prayers at this time.”
Father, in the brewing tension in Pakistan we pray for Pakistani Christians and church leaders as they prepare for violence that is on the rise. Strengthen them as they await the government’s response to Taliban demands. We pray against implementation of Sharia Law, and we pray that You will strengthen Christians to stand boldly for the truth of the gospel, even while reaching out in compassion to their Muslim neighbors. We lift up church leaders- that You will guide them in responding to whatever circumstances arise in ways that honor You. Father, grant them discernment to know what that looks like in each situation. In the name of Jesus who calls and empowers His church to love and serve Him well, Amen.