“They piled up Bibles and hymn books and set them on fire” – three stories from Pakistan attacks

Last month, thousands of Muslim extremists brought devastation to Christians in Jaranwala, Pakistan, by attacking more than 20 churches and almost a hundred homes in response to allegations that two believers had desecrated the Quran. The three stories below highlight the horror experienced by some of the victims. The awful incident has affected more than 1,600 people – thank you for your continued prayers and support for them.

Prayers of desperation as mob encroached

“Our church is very small,” says Sara*. “We normally must split our church into those who sit outside and those who can fit inside. Our musicians and the pastor must speak loud enough so that those outside can also hear. We have a few Christian families linked to our church building itself. We all donated a small part of the land from our homes to start the church. Our homes are directly connected with the church building.”

The church is near to a mosque where thousands had gathered to attack. It meant that Sara and others couldn’t flee. “We only had each other,” she says. 

“Hundreds rushed to the church, and we watched in horror from our homes as they destroyed each part of the church,” she recalls.  “Some had mallets, sledgehammers, pickaxes and axes, and others had metal rods and wooden sticks. They piled up the Bibles and hymn books and set them on fire. They smashed the furniture and poured fuel over the small worship area.”

“In that moment of terror, we held onto each other and prayed…”SARA

A group headed for the metal cross on the church’s roof. “We heard them running on the roof as our home was connected to the roof of the church,” continues Sara. “We heard them running, and with each thump, we heard more people on the roof. We just prayed, ‘Lord, keep us safe.’ My daughter was crying, and my son stood at the doorway with a stick – just in case the protesters decided to break in.”

The mob reached the family’s front door, banging on it whilst shouting verbal abuse. “In that moment of terror, we held onto each other and prayed, ‘Dear God, You are our high tower and our fortress. Please save us.’ The banging got worse. For over 20 minutes, a group of about 15 men tried but the door held, so they gave up and left with my son’s motorbike which was parked in the alleyway.”

The family was safe, but many were not. “We wandered the streets and met with neighbours who had left their homes to the mob,” she says. “Everything was gone, even the dowries of daughters about to be married, worth a lifetime of saving.

“We know our world was shattered, but not destroyed; our lives were saved. Our dignity is still found at the cross of Calvary; our faith is still in the Living Word, Jesus Christ, who brings us joy in our tears. We belong to a God who truly cares for His church.”

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