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Pakistan update: Open Doors partners help victims of church bomb attack

19 December 2017

Open Doors has received an update from our partners helping the victims of the bomb attack on a church in Quetta, Pakistan, which killed at least nine Christians.

"We told the people here that we came in love and to serve,” said one of our partners. “We explained that 'We do not come because we know more than you, but because the Lord says: 'Comfort ye my people.' So here we are. Let's just sit together.'"

She continued, "We are calling our time here 'Love Quetta'. We help people going to funerals, hold hands and observe next week’s relief operation."

According to our local partner, the responses are very positive: "’We trust you,’ say the people who have lost loved ones. ‘We know you won't make trouble for us, but that you've come to wipe our tears. Thank you for being sensitive and thank you for staying with us.’

“On behalf of ALIVE and our field team in Asia, we want to thank all those who are praying for and supporting us. Without their support we would not be able to reach out to our brothers and sisters in Quetta.”

Pakistan: Nine killed, dozens wounded in bomb attack on church

18 December 2017

A local network of churches supported by Open Doors is helping victims of a bomb attack on a Methodist church in Quetta, which killed at least nine Christians and left dozens injured.

Some 400 worshippers were packed inside the church in the city of Quetta, just 40 miles from the Afghan border. Two suicide bombers were stopped by security personnel before they could enter the church. One of the men detonated their device, the other was killed. Two more attackers fled the scene. The self-proclaimed Islamic State group has said it carried out the attack.

Pakistan – which is number 4 in the Open Doors World Watch List – is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a Christian. Christians make up just 2 per cent of the population and suffer routine discrimination. Churches are frequently the subject of violent attacks, which is why guards were placed near the church in Quetta. If the bombers hadn’t been stopped by the security personnel at the door, many more lives would have been lost.

’My cousin is dead’

"I'm still outside Quetta," said one Christian who lost a cousin in the attack. "I was returning home because my brother is getting married, so I wanted to be home before Christmas… Now he's dead! I was just sleeping on the bus, when my phone kept vibrating from all the messages coming in. My cousin is dead, he’s dead. And I’m so alone here in the bus. There’s no one to hold me."

Open Doors works in Pakistan through a local network of churches called ALIVE. Among the support offered through these churches is emergency aid to victims of violent persecution, counselling and trauma therapy – services which are clearly now needed in Quetta.

"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 helping the victims. "Women and children were hiding in the vestry." She continues, "The situation in the province of Baluchistan has been getting worse. The attack today is to frighten us from not going to church this advent."

’They cannot stop us’

“Please pray for us," the ALIVE leader asked us. “Please pray for those who are trying to help the victims and their loved ones.

“It’s very hard. This is my mother’s childhood home. The members of the church are people whom we know and love. Our phones are ringing endlessly as we hear of them. 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’.

"Then she prayed: ‘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!’”

’God prepared us for something’

Thanks to the long-term support and prayers of Christians around the world, Open Doors is able to respond quickly to provide trauma counselling and emergency aid to victims of persecution. Indeed, the attack took place on the same weekend that ALIVE organised a ministry trip for a group who have just completed trauma counselling training. The trainees went to the All Saints Church in Peshawar, where scores of people were killed by terrorists in 2013 .

“The members of All Saints shared about the power of prayer and the way the attack impacted their faith,” said the ALIVE leader. “It was a prophetic time. God prepared us for something… I’m sorry, I have to go now to pray with people.”

Please pray:

  • That God will comfort and strengthen the victims
  • For strength and wisdom for the ALIVE team supported by Open Doors as they minister to the bereaved and wounded
  • For Christians in Pakistan during the Christmas period, when attacks on churches are more frequent. Pray that they will be protected by the authorities and treated with dignity and justice.

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Find out more about persecution in Pakistan