When Even Children Face Unspeakable Persecution
The Bible tells us that persecution will come to all who follow Christ, but it is especially difficult to believe when even children are persecuted.
Mikal* is a seven-year-old boy who attended a public school in Pakistan. Though it is a public school, 80% of students’ time was spent on Islamic studies and only 20% of the school day was spent on other subjects such as math, history and science. Even these subjects were taught using textbooks that promoted Islam. Some of the textbooks went so far as to attack Christians and other religious minorities, stating that “they could not be trusted.”
Beyond being forced to spend most of his school day studying the Quran, Mikal encountered constant bullying from his classmates because of his Christian faith. He was ostracized by other students; he was never invited to parties and did not have a single friend.
Almost every day at recess, his classmates would circle around him calling him an “infidel” or “kafir” (which means unclean). They would tell him that all Christians are pigs and monkeys. Due to the constant bullying, Mikal began to believe that there was something wrong with him and his religion and became increasingly depressed.
The bullying extended outside of the schoolyard when the parents of his classmates began harassing Mikal’s family. Soon the Taliban, which is very prominent in his city, heard about this Christian family. They began to threaten Mikal’s family and left threatening messages saying, “If you do not convert, we will kidnap your two sons.” The family was afraid to leave their home. They only ventured outside when it was completely necessary, and Mikal’s father made them lie down flat in their car so no one could see them.
The Taliban continued to harass Mikal’s family and intensified their threats. One day, Mikal’s father received a message while he was at his office that the Taliban was going to kill his family and attack other Christians the next day.
As Mikal’s father was driving home, he struggled with what he should do. “I wanted to buy a gun to defend my family, but I was conflicted because Jesus tells us to ‘turn the other cheek’ and I didn’t know what to do.” He prayed fervently for God’s wisdom and protection.
The Lord heard his cry, and the Taliban was unable to carry out the attack the next day. However, Mikal’s father knew he had to move his family from the area as their lives were at risk. That night, they took a few of their belongings and fled.
Please pray for Mikal and his family. Though he is only seven, he has seen more persecution than many of us will experience in a lifetime. Pray for God’s wisdom and protection as this family decides what do to next.
*Name changed for security reasons
Father, our hearts break for Mikal and his whole family. As Christians, even in our own country, we struggle with what it means to forgive and to turn the other cheek. Please grant Mikal and his family much wisdom as they move to a new village. Show them what it means to live as followers of Jesus in a hostile land. You know their suffering; You hear the cry of their hearts. Show them when to speak up and when to remain silent. Give them courage to stand in faith and to reach out in compassion to those around them living in spiritual darkness. Protect them and give them opportunities to share with their lives and with words the presence of Christ in them and His words of truth. In the name of Jesus, who has sent the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to teach us and guide us through this life, Amen.