Read His Words Before Ours!
Oppression: an unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power. (Merriam-Webster) Often, oppression includes a cluster of feeling heavily burdened and mentally or physically troubled, which may lead to adverse conditions and anxiety.
Oppression has existed since sin first entered the world. As we read the works of Old Testament writers, we find their lament of the suffering humanity experiences.
“My joy has flown away;
grief has settled on me.
My heart is sick.
Listen–the cry of my dear people
from a faraway land,
‘Is the LORD no longer in Zion,
her King not within her?’ [. . .]
I am broken by the brokenness
of my dear people.
I mourn; horror has taken hold of me.
Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
So why has the healing of my dear people
not come about?”
Over time, some people throughout the world have fought oppression, providing fundamental rights to others and organizing to work for the protection of those suffering unjustly. Yet sadly, people in many countries are still oppressed today.
Today, I’m going to share about oppression in my home country, Pakistan.
In the midst of our struggles, we strongly believe God has good plans for Pakistan and He cares for His people here.
The Pakistani Christian community has been an important part of Pakistan since its creation, but remains a minority in the predominately Muslim country. While the white stripe on the hoist end of the Pakistani flag is meant to represent those of minority faiths, Pakistani Christians face significant oppression.
Challenges include finding jobs and providing quality education to our children. While the education system of Pakistan was rooted in Christian missionary schools, current literacy rates remain very low in Christian communities.
Furthermore, in some areas, our churches are under threat of sudden attack at all times.
In 2005, a mob set fire to churches and Christian schools in Faisalabad, forcing Christians to flee.
In 2009, a mob set fire to about 40 houses and a church in Gojra, burning eight people alive.
On 22 September 2013, a twin suicide bomb attack took place at All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan, in which 127 people were killed and over 250 injured.
On 15 March 2015, two blasts took place at a Roman Catholic Church and Christ Church
during Sunday service in the Youhanabad area of Lahore. At least 15 people were killed and seventy were wounded in the attacks.
A church in Quetta was bombed and 9 people were killed. The Islamic State took responsibility for the attack.
According to an Open Doors claim in November 2017, Pakistan had the highest number of Christians killed in the world during the 12 months from 1 November 2015 to 31 October 2016. Pakistan also topped the list of most documented church attacks during the same time period.
During the COVID-19 pandemic in Pakistan, reports emerged that rations were being denied to minority Hindus and Christians in the coastal areas of Karachi. Thankfully, several organizations, including Edhi Foundation, JDC Welfare Organization, and Jamaat-e-Islami, are reported to have stepped forward to provide relief to the minorities.
As you can see, recent years have seen an intensification of violent persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan.
The Lord Jesus told us Christians would face tribulation, and we must stand firm in our faith, knowing our sacrifices are right before God and will increase His Kingdom.
“If anyone wants to follow after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34)
Christ made it very clear the road to which He is calling us is full of trials and challenges. As Pakistani Christians suffer for their faith, sometimes imprisoned and tortured for years, they are sustained by God’s promise there is a reward kept for them and they are sharing in the sufferings of Christ.
You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven.” (Matthew 5:10-12)
No stranger to suffering for the Gospel, the Apostle Peter confirms,
“Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you, as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you also may rejoice with great glory when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:12-13)
Today, if you are oppressed, remember 1 Peter 4:16,
“But if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed but let him glorify God[.]”
God bless each one of you.
*Written by Neriah Khan, whose name has been changed to protect her identity
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!