The persecution to Christians in Pakistan is nothing new, but it became something personal to me back in 1998. Kashif* was a colleague from a school in Dakar and son of the Pakistanese Ambassador to Senegal. A few months of living daily with them and he became more than a colleague, now he was a friend and a brother in Cristo. He even gifted me with a Bible; a symbol of his conviction and the transformation that had happened in his life. However his joy lasted a few months, the pressure coming from his family pushed him to deny his faith and turn back to islam. I can’t imagine the amount of pressure and abuse he might had suffered. From what I know, he has never been able to overcome the shame he had towards me and our friendship faded away.
When I asked Pastor Latif about the attacks that recently happened in Lahore, Pakistan, he had been travelling to Thailand visiting a few Pakistanese christians that were suffering in that nation. They flee persecution from their country and as they arrive in the neighrbooring country they’re treated as unwanted and taken away their most basic human rights, education, housing and any dignity. The government of Thailand as much as UNHCR have said that there is not recorded religious persecution in Pakistan and state that people move from nation to nation based only on economical interest.
Pastor Latif answered my question about the attacks in Pakistan by asking me another one back: “How can the Thai government say that it was not persecution that has brought these people here?” We, that are blessed not to live amongst the context of persecution are challenged to think, imagine and somehow attempt to give a logical answer to Latif’s question. His heart was torn with so many deaths in Lahore and the inhumane situation that Pakistanese in Thailand are having to endure.
The truth is that, even with the guarantee of refugee status by the international law, the end of the persecution to our brothers and sisters will never be considered an international priority. We persist on battling, yes, for what we call an institutional justice. However, as body of Christ we have the opportunity to walk close enough, to our brothers and sisters, to the point where our hearts will also be broken for Lahore and Pakistan, for Thailand and many other places that the church of Christ is suffering. I don’t believe that pastor Latif was looking for an answer to his question. I believe he was looking for comfort and support from the body of Christ. My prayer is that we can be the answer to his cry.
*Ficticious names have been used for safety