“It’s a different world over there…”
A few weeks back I was able to attend a meeting hosted by the Scottish branch of Open Doors’ – an organisation which supports Christians living in countries where their faith singles them out for discrimination. After the talk I got speaking to the Scottish Director, and, when He discovered I was from Pakistan, he mentioned he had recently visited Lahore, its second largest city.
It was then that the conversation slowed down to a stop. It was as if we had run out of the words needed to express the feelings we both shared. He just looked at me and said, “It’s a completely different world over there, isn’t it?” Yes, I’m afraid it is!
If you were a Christian growing up in Lahore today, your world would be full of unknowns. Who am I going to meet on the bus today, and how will they react? Who is going to come into my shop today, and will I be able to trust them? Will my children be safe at school? Is my job still secure? Will we be able to meet together to worship this week, and will we be safe? Growing up in such an environment, it is surprising that so many are remaining faithful to their beliefs. Even more surprising are the number of Muslims who have turned to Christianity, in full knowledge of the sacrifices involved.
Yet, while there are many uncertainties, there are some things of which you can be sure. You can be sure you will not be treated as an equal. You can be sure that if you give your Muslim neighbour cause to be envious of your home, or land, or job, or simply of your success, the law leaves you vulnerable to a false accusation of blasphemy, (for under Shariah law the word of the Muslim man counts for more than that of any other). You can be sure that if there is any dispute involving a Muslim, you will not be treated fairly, and you can be sure that if you try to protect yourself or your family you will face the wrath of the mob.
But, you can also be sure that you are not alone and not forgotten – that the Church you belong to stretches round the world and is praying for you daily. And you can be sure that “there is nothing in death or in life, nor the present nor the future, nor any powers that can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus your Lord*.”
Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Pakistan, and throughout the Muslim world.
P.S. – If you want to hear more about the work of ‘Open Doors’, please come along to Evening Worship on Sunday 10th May, when Heather Westwood will be our guest speaker.
(*from Romans 8.38)