Date: March 24, 2015
Pakistan (MNN) — We’ve been telling you about the Islamic State’s presence in Pakistan for months. Now, ISIS is officially launching its terror campaign.
Before and after bombing a Shi’ite mosque on Friday, the Islamic State handed out hundreds of notices on official ISIS letterhead. National pastors shared a copy of one with Forgotten Missionaries International’s Bruce Allen.
“‘You must embrace Islam or be ready to be killed.’ That is the message going out in Pakistan in recent hours from ISIS,” he reports.
Believers from Youhanabad are already on the run.
Translated as “John’s Land” (named for the John of the Gospels, Allen says), Youhanabad is reportedly the largest Christian community in Lahore, Pakistan.
“Youhanabad is about 300,000 people; 97% of the people are Christian,” says Allen. “80% of the population has fled–they’ve left the city. Some are staying with relatives in other towns while others have just left.”
Those remaining in the city are likely staying close to loved ones who survived last week’s attack, Allen adds. The death toll is now up to 44, and approximately 20 victims are on life-support in the hospital.
FMI’s National Director in Pakistan, *Nehemiah, is on the ground in Youhanabad and has been sharing regular updates with Allen.
“I know some stories now from the survivors of the blast, the people who have lost loved ones in the attack,” Allen shares. One of those stories centers on a young man serving as a church security guard.
“He saw the suicide bomber coming, and he pulled him back out from the church area so the blast would occur more in the street [instead of within the church],” Allen says.
“He was the sole provider of income…. He lives with his parents, along with many other siblings. They’re dealing with the emotional loss of a son or a brother, as well as with the loss of income.”
Violent terrorist attacks like this one have long-term, traumatic effects, especially on young children.
“They do not speak for weeks or months,” shares Allen.
“It’s not because there was some physical trauma to their vocal cords, but emotionally and mentally their psyche has just been so damaged that they cannot speak.”
FMI is giving them a voice by sharing their story — will you help? Share this article with your friends on Facebook or other social media.
Forgotten Missionaries International (FMI) exists to support indigenous pastors in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Pakistan who are telling unreached people groups about Christ and planting churches in these communities.
Because they focus on unreached, usually rural, communities, FMI-supported Gospel workers have been largely unaffected by terrorist attacks targeting Christians. But, that doesn’t mean the national believers are unprepared.
“They’re coming to grips with that [the ISIS operation], and they’re leading their congregations through Bible study saying, ‘This is how Christ wants us to respond to our enemies. This is how we prepare for opposition. This is the hope that Christ gives us,'” Allen shares.
“Someday in the future–maybe not too far in the future–if the threats of the Islamic State are realized, if they take over the country, the Christians that live there will have a very, very difficult time.”
FMI-supported missionaries are finding ways to share Christ’s love with the families of people killed in last week’s attack. You can support their efforts here.
“We want to reach out, whether it’s to Muslims or to other Christians in this society, and help nurture them,” says Allen.
* Name changed for security