blasphemy

Pakistan (MNN) — Last Friday morning in Pakistan, Ahmed, a co-laborer for the Gospel, had to appear in court for his blasphemy trial.

Preparing for the Worst

Leading up to the trial, Ahmed and his advocates were certain he’d face an ambush either while traveling to court or during the hearing. In preparation for a worst-case scenario, Ahmed sent FMI’s Bruce Allen a recording of what could possibly have been his last words to his friend.

“He said, ‘All the accusations and charges of blasphemy against me are completely false and baseless. Christianity doesn’t teach us to humiliate others, even though of a different faith. Christ is known as the Prince of Peace, and being his follower, I’m spreading this message, and will keep spreading it until death,’” Allen shares.

“’I am deeply grateful to all the brothers and sisters who are with me in this crucial time. Fasting and praying for me and my family. I am delighted to be a part of Christ’s Body with you all. It gives a lot of encouragement and strength to know that I’m not alone in this death-dealing situation, but blessed by compassionated brothers and sisters in Christ. Continue to uplift me in your prayers, and my family—for the Lord to grant me strength, power, and wisdom. Amen.’”

In his message to Allen, Ahmed ended by quoting Scripture which said, “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you a crown of life. *Jay ho.” Even as Ahmed prepared to approach death’s doorstep, he still saw and focused on the victory that was won in Christ’s death and resurrection.

Ahmed Attacked in Court

Then, just after midnight during Friday’s earliest hour in the Eastern Time Zone, Bruce got word on the outcome of Ahmed’s trial.

Ahmed’s bloody shirt from attack in court. (Photo Courtesy FMI)

“I received word that Ahmed was indeed attacked, by ten men, as soon as he was called into the courtroom for his legal proceedings on charges of blasphemy against Islam,” Allen shares. “He suffered two head injuries, but there were friends with him who were able to take him to the hospital for emergency treatment.”

Ahmed also suffered bruised ribs and is currently on painkillers.

A team of lawyers accompanied Ahmed and his attorney to the court that morning. These individuals served as eyes and ears to help document the events if there was an attack. Furthermore, Christian friends of Ahmed’s, one who serves on the police force and the other, an EMT worker, joined Ahmed as well. The EMT worker remained outside the courtroom in case of an emergency requiring his medical expertise.

In fact, it was the EMT friend who rushed Ahmed to the hospital and saw to it that he was treated for his injuries. Ahmed wasn’t allowed to take his phone into court with him, even though his attackers could bring in their weapons. Without his phone, Ahmed had to wait until his attorney brought it to the hospital to contact his wife.

Power of Prayer

“We were so grateful for the Body of Christ at that time, who we knew were interceding around the world, for Ahmed. And [we were] so grateful for the Holy Spirit who knows how to translate even just groans and tears into prayers, and the knowledge that our pain is not foreign to God,” Allen says.

“We thank the Mission Network News listeners who have poured out their hearts to the Lord. Who have fasted, who have shared words of encouragement, and written out prayers for Ahmed and his family. We’ve relayed [the prayers] to the family.”

Is There No Justice?

However, it has come to light that the judge and legal assistant hearing Ahmed’s case were complicit in the attack. These men knew the weapons, which would be used to attack Ahmed, were in the courtroom. In fact, Allen says the legal assistant was involved with Ahmed’s accusers and attackers. The assistant waited to have Ahmed brought into the courtroom until the attackers were ready to strike.

But, it doesn’t end there.

“Once the attack by those ten militants had started, the judge simply winked, got up and left the courtroom for his chambers,” Allen shares. “He’s winking at, what was conspiring, and confident that ‘Okay, I’m not needed here today. There’s really going to be no legal proceeding in the case today, it’s just an ambush. And he thinks it over.”

Pakistan street scene. (Photo Courtesy FMI)

The judge was expecting Ahmed to be killed that morning. But God delivered him through the trial instead. As quickly as possible, Ahmed’s friends intervened, and one of the lawyers dragged him out of the courtroom. Ahmed’s lawyer, Rizvam, and the other individuals with him locked the courtroom from the inside to prevent the attackers from chasing after Ahmed.

Once left alone, the attackers verbally argued with the attorneys and the police officer. However, these men were unwilling to risk physically attacking the group.

“We are so grateful for the way the Lord orchestrated who could be present with Ahmed during this scenario,” Allen says.

“From someone with medical expertise and the ability to transport him to the hospital, to all these lawyers, who are willing to put their lives on the line and be present with Ahmed, and this uniformed police officer being there.”

A Looming Cloud

But aside from the court case, there’s the fact that Ahmed still has the fatwa against him. The fatwa calls for all Pakistani Muslims to hunt him down, and kill him. And because of this fatwa, these men, including the judge, will most likely face no repercussions for their actions.

“It’s very clear that the accusers, and the man who brought the charge against Ahmed, don’t even know him. This is such a bogus and contrived affair. But, they are intent on killing him,” Allen explains. “If not through the court system… where they can get capital punishment, then definitely through the fatwa. So, that is still their aim.”

Furthermore, if hospital personnel had known there was a fatwa against Ahmed, even this trip could have proven deadly. By God’s grace, it didn’t.

Rizvam has filed a petition to allow Ahmed not to be present during future hearings since the court cannot secure his safety. It is Ahmed’s constitutional right to be represented by his lawyer in court, rather than personally being present.

Home at Last

Thankfully, Ahmed is now home with his wife and children. And Allen says they’ve had a joyful reunion. That morning, Ahmed’s wife, Amir, cried from anguish of the unknown. Then, upon finding out her husband was alive, her tears continued with joy.

Allen has spoken with Ahmed since he’s returned home, and shares that after this attack,  Ahmed has even more passion for sharing the Gospel and conducting ministry. For Ahmed, he sees what God has brought him through and he knows what God has done for him. Christ saved him when he was the enemy, and he wants his country people to know Christ’s overwhelming love and forgiveness, too.

A woman being baptized in Pakistan (Photo Courtesy of FMI)

“[Ahmed] says, ‘I’m honored to have spilled some of my blood for the glory of the Lord,” Allen recounts.

Ahmed doesn’t know or understand why his accusers are so bent on getting rid of him. Even when he does ministry, Ahmed takes 1 Peter 3:15 seriously, which says:

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Allen shares that Ahmed doesn’t want to degrade people or bully them into believing in Christ. He respects them and is gentle.

But, despite the spiritual darkness in Pakistan, FMI’s ministry continues to see thousands of Pakistanis place their faith in Jesus. And it’s because God is working through people like Ahmed to bring the Pakistanis to himself. Yet, as we’ve seen, with the great fruit also comes great resistance.

Be Prayerful, Be Active

So please, keep praying for Ahmed, his physical healing, and his family. Pray for his children, their faith, and for them to not live in fear, but confidence in God. Ask God to speak to the heart of this judge. Pray for Ahmed’s acquittal. And pray for Rizvam’s safety. Ask God to intimately touch his life, and for him to continue to courageously fight for justice on Ahmed’s behalf.

Also, pray specifically for Amir. She has developed an eye infection from the intense crying and eye rubbing on the day of Ahmed’s trial. Pray for this family’s courage, wisdom, joy, and ministry.

And pray for Ahmed’s rising medical costs and attorney fees. FMI is assisting Ahmed in these costs by collecting donations for him through its “Project Advocacy” fund. This fund was specifically set up to financially help Ahmed and his family during this time of trial.

Come alongside Ahmed tangibly by giving to FMI’s “Project Advocacy” fund here!

Learn more about Ahmed’s blasphemy trial in Pakistan here!

Finally, praise God for delivering Ahmed through this trial. Praise Him for His faithfulness, His love, and the work He is doing in Pakistan through His people.

“As much as I say it was a long tearful night, I can agree with Scripture and say, joy came in the morning,” Allen shares.

*Jay Ho: an Urdu expression of victory.
**Pakistan is ranked #5 on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List (WWL). The WWL is a ranking of the 50 countries where Christians face the most severe persecution.
***Blasphemy trials take an average of three years in Pakistan. Ahmed’s has been taking place since November 2017.