February 2023 Persecution Magazine

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A shepherd in Pakistan attends to

his flock. Christians in Pakistan

are often forced into doing

unwanted or dangerous jobs due

to their second-class status.

Photo: iStock.com/Wirestock


12 16 18 22



The Concerning Trend

of Persecution in





Those Who Escaped

the Taliban’s Grip Met

Harsh Conditions



Giving Students a

Second Chance for a

Brighter Future




Trauma Training for

Students in Pakistan










ICC Projects Made Possible by Supporters

Your Source for Persecution News

A Deep Dive Into the Lives of Church Planters and Pastors

Find Hope and Victory in the Messages of the Persecuted

@persecuted @persecutionnews @internationalchristianconcern International Christian Concern

OUR MISSION: Since 1996, ICC has served the global

persecuted church through a three-pronged approach of

advocacy, awareness, and assistance. ICC exists to bandage

the wounds of persecuted Christians and to build the church

in the toughest parts of the world.

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Persecution | FEBRUARY 2023

© Copyright 2023 ICC, Washington, D.C., USA. All rights reserved.

Permission to reproduce all or part of this publication is granted

provided attribution is given to ICC as the source.


Publisher Jeff King

Editor Mike Anderson

Designer Hannah Campbell

Peril in Pakistan

The reality of persecution was cemented for me, in

part, as I sat in the back seat of a car in Pakistan eons

ago. It was during an in-country visit shortly after I

took the helm of International Christian Concern (ICC). As

I glanced out the window, I felt the rage of a terrorist who

wanted to kill me (more on that later).

That incident gave me a glimpse of the dangers our persecuted

brothers and sisters face in Pakistan, but it was a

widow who pierced my heart during that same visit.

Pastor Mukhtar had a heart for serving Muslims. He witnessed

to them for Christ, cared for them, loved them. Yet

despite strangers’ repeated death threats, warnings, and

visits to his doorstep, insisting he stop, Pastor Mukhtar continued

to preach to lost and hurting souls. You’ll read more

of my encounter with his widow on page 8.

Radicals assassinated him, leaving his wife to raise six children

and survive in a community that hated her, too. My

time spent with Mrs. Mukhtar was one of the most memorable

experiences of my ministry life.

Jeff King, President

International Christian Concern

Author: The Last Words of the Martyrs and

Islam Uncensored

We cover Pakistan this month to bring special attention to

this gaping wound of a place for believers. It’s a dangerous

mess and has been for quite some time. The country’s carte

blanche endorsement of Islam and blasphemy laws bring

constant peril to followers of Jesus. It is one of the worst

places to be a Christian on our planet.

As you recall, that peril reared its ugly head about a decade

ago when two suicide bombers killed 127 people and injured

250 more at All-Saints Church. We have chronicled

that incident over the years and continue to support victims.

We will bring special attention to the massacre on its

10th anniversary later this year.

Thank you for coming alongside the persecuted and supporting

our ongoing projects in Pakistan. Please know how

much it means to us and our brothers and sisters who want

desperately to openly worship their Savior but can only do

so behind closed doors.

In Him.



Your Hands and Feet



the world,

one life at

a time.


This Changed What I

Thought My Life Was

Supposed to be About


The war disproportionately affecting Christians in the Democratic

Republic of the Congo (DRC) uprooted Kavira’s family. Her father,

mother, and three siblings survived an ambush from radical

Muslim terrorists on April 9, 2022, and fled to Beni empty-handed

after their house was set on fire.

At the time, Kavira was in college when her family was forced to

abandon everything they had known.

Kavira was faced with no other choice but to drop out of school

due to her parents’ financial situation. She hoped to continue

school, but with three years of tuition ahead of her, she wasn’t

sure if she’d be able to.

In response to her story, ICC paid for one full year at a new

university where she’ll pursue her ultimate dream of studying


“I thank ICC so much for this great support that has been given to

me, because as the time in DRC is very difficult, I had no hope that

I can get such support to go back to school. ...Now I hope that I

will be a strong person to help the suffering people in the DRC

when I complete my studies,” said Kavira.


Persecution | FEBRUARY 2023

THIS PAGE: Unsplash images used to protect the identities of our beneficiaries. Top: Photo by Stephanie Liao Bottom: Photo by Abdul Rauf Khalid.


Freed From Hospital Debt


Christians in Madhya Pradesh, India, face two major problems:

the growing hostile discrimination against Christians and the

consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. This combination pushed

many pastors into vulnerable situations, as offerings and tithes to

churches dwindled drastically.

Despite this harsh reality, Pastor Lamar continues to train local

leaders for church planting and evangelism. After his family became

ill with COVID-19, they were all admitted to the hospital, incurring a

substantial bill that pushed the pastor into financial distress.

Not only has he struggled to make ends meet but it was also incredibly

difficult for him to continue spreading the gospel as intended.

ICC heard of Pastor Lamar’s plight and decided to intervene. We

assisted the pastor in starting up a business so he could support his

family and free them of medical debt. Now the pastor can return to

spreading God’s word with more financial stability in tow.


Land Stolen, Faith Restored


Yusuf is a Christian living in Pakistan whose inherited agricultural

land was stolen from him by a Muslim tenant. Mughal, the

tenant, had leased the land from Yusuf’s father in 2012, with an

agreement that it would expire in May 2021. When Yusuf’s father

died in 2016 and ownership of the land passed to Yusuf, Mughal

falsely claimed that his father had sold him the land.

Mughal and several other radical Muslims threatened and

violently beat Yusuf when he refused to leave his rightful property.

This injustice has left him without any savings or support for

himself and his family. He faces ongoing discrimination as a

Christian which has prevented him from taking legal action to

regain possession of his land.

In order to help Yusuf get back on his feet and provide for his

family, ICC set up a first-aid clinic for him as a small business. As

an experienced medical professional, this is a way for him to earn

an honest and dignified income while continuing to pursue legal

justice for his stolen land.


ICC Newsroom


Fulani Terrorists Slaughter 70 Christians in Central Nigeria

Fulani militants viciously attacked innocent Christian

citizens in central Nigeria, killing more than 70

and injuring over 100. The sheer magnitude of

the attack displaced thousands of families from their


Benue State government officials have now spoken

out on the matter and have urged the federal

government to take measures to protect its citizens’

defense groups.

“We are standing on our request for the federal

government to give us a license for our Volunteer

Guards to bear AK-47s and other sophisticated

weapons,” said Secretary to the State Government

Anthony Ijohor, representing Benue Governor

Samuel Ortom. “The security agencies have been

overstretched, and that being the case, our people

have to defend themselves.”

Unfortunately, attacks like these are all too common

across many rural villages in Nigeria. As this violence

continues with no signs of abating any time soon,

Nigerian citizens may continue relying on themselves

for protection.

Indian Police Arrest Pastors and Newly Married Couple at Wedding Reception

Nine Christian pastors and a newly married couple were

unjustly arrested in Uttar Pradesh, India. Authorities

detained the pastors after attending a wedding reception

held in one of their homes. Police responded to pressure

from radical Hindu nationalists who alleged that the pastors

were using the gathering as an opportunity to conduct

conversion activities.

Witnesses reported that police entered the private event

and searched the property, seizing Bibles and other

Christian items. Despite no evidence of any wrongdoing,

the police arrested the group using India’s draconian anticonversion


A Christian leader told ICC, “Christians are living under

the fear of being targeted and attacked for no reason, and

police just need a complaint for them to act and send them

to jail under the anti-conversion law.”


Persecution | FEBRUARY 2023


Nine Christians

Hospitalized After

Attack in India

120 Civilians Abducted in Village Raids

Local sources report that more than 120

people, including women and children,

were kidnapped in a recent raid by

unidentified bandits in northwestern

Nigeria. According to the resident,

who wished to remain anonymous, the

bandits split into two groups and raided

four villages – Kanwa, Kwabre, Yankaba,

and Gidan Goga – kidnapping victims.

This act of violence is yet another addition

to the numerous violent incidents

throughout Nigeria that have killed or

abducted thousands and left hundreds

of thousands internally displaced. Sadly,

Christians are especially vulnerable to

this religiously motivated violence.

Nine Christians in Chhattisgarh

were brutally attacked by a group of

radical Hindu nationalists. The mob

burst into a newly built church hall

while members of the congregation

were worshiping. According to local

sources, the mob surrounded the

church and demanded that the

pastor and his brother come out

of the hall. Many members of the

congregation were seriously injured

as a result and needed to be rushed

to the hospital for treatment.

Anti-conversion laws in Chhattisgarh

are often misused by radical Hindus

as a way to persecute Christian


Christian Families Beaten Unconscious for

Refusing to Deny Their Faith

In India, a mob of radical Hindu

nationalists and their village leader

brutally beat two Christian families

for refusing to deny their faith. This

vicious attack occurred in the home of

one of the Christian families as they

were worshiping together. The violence

started when the village leader gathered

a group of people from nearby villages

and accused the Christians of converting

to a foreign religion and leading innocent

tribal people away from Hinduism.

Without warning, the mob entered

the home, assaulted the two families,

and inflicted serious injuries on three


“The incidents of persecution have

increased so much these days,” a local

pastor told ICC. “Last month, a young

Christian was beaten for refusing to

recant his faith. Though we knock on the

police station all the time, we receive

little or no justice,” the pastor explained.

Odisha was the first Indian state to have

anti-conversion laws. Today, 11 Indian

states have enacted anti-conversion

laws, with two enacting them this year.

“The incidents of

persecution have

increased so much

these days.”

- Local Pastor in India

Attack footage shows the group

of radicals surrounding the

church with sticks as weapons.


Front Lines of Ministry


P A S T O R M U K H T A R :

A Martyr for

Christ in Pakistan



Persecution | FEBRUARY 2023

When I think of struggling persecuted

Christians, I think of Mrs. Mukhtar. She

was married to a pastor in Pakistan, a

man who was incredibly bold for Christ.

In Pastor Mukhtar’s neighborhood, people heard

the Muslim call to prayer five times a day from

minarets atop the local mosques. Not to be

outdone, Pastor Mukhtar installed a loudspeaker

on the roof of his church. He planned to broadcast

short prayers and sections of Scripture to the


Pastor Mukhtar wasn’t some obnoxious rebel with

a microphone. He had a great love for Muslims

and was a compelling witness; many Muslims

came to Christ because of his outreach.

His deep love for Muslims and his success in

winning Muslims to Christ deeply bothered his

Muslim neighbors, earning him many enemies.

In fact, his effectiveness was practically a death



Strangers began to arrive at Mukhtar’s door to

politely warn him against witnessing. Over time,

the threats grew less subtle. He was told that he

would pay with his life if he did not stop converting

Muslims to Christianity.

After each visit, his wife asked him, “Who were

those people, and what did they want?” Pastor

Mukhtar kept these threats from his wife so

that she wouldn’t be afraid. He would answer by

saying things like, “Don’t worry, dear, it was only


Despite the threats, Pastor Mukhtar couldn’t stop.

God had revealed to him the key to life. He had

to share that key with all those still imprisoned.

Threats couldn’t stop him, even when his enemies

offered to let him live if he would only stop

preaching and allow the prisoners around him to

quietly rot in prison. But Pastor Mukhtar could not

accept such a small bribe. His deep love for the

Father and for the prisoners around him forced

him to keep going no matter the cost.


Pastor Mukhtar was eventually assassinated. His

murder was highly publicized. His widow feared

that the men who killed her husband would

one day return and silence her as well. After his

assassination, state security services forbade her

from speaking with foreigners. These restrictions

applied to us, so we met with her in secret.


When I met Mrs. Mukhtar, I was suffering from

extreme jet lag and exhaustion after extensive

travel. But I was there to find out how I could

help her rebuild her life after the tragic loss of her

husband, so I was eager to meet with her.

Mrs. Mukhtar had six children, including several

older daughters at home. In Muslim culture, a girl

without a father is vulnerable, so daughters stay

with the family until they marry.

The stress of losing her husband and carrying

the load of a large family left her shell-shocked.

But Mrs. Mukhtar was stoic as she recounted the

details of her living nightmare. From the outside,

there was no sign that tragedy had engulfed

her life just a few weeks earlier. Her lack of any

outward emotion made it hard for me to relate

to her at first.

When I meet someone’s unvarnished pain, I

tend to respond with empathy. If I see a person’s

tragedy and their sorrows, hurts, and scars, I

share in their suffering. So, while listening to her


story, I became ashamed of my lack of

empathy. Mrs. Mukhtar had suffered so

much. Shouldn’t I feel her pain? Shouldn’t

I feel that deep sense of compassion that I

experienced in similar meetings with other


I was able to supply financial help for her

and her family, but we had to cut our

meeting short due to security concerns.

Before we left, I asked if I could pray for

her, and she consented.

As I began to pray, I felt compelled to place

my hand on Mrs. Mukhtar’s shoulder. I

knew that would be crossing a cultural

boundary in fundamentalist Muslim

Pakistan, but I felt compelled to do so. I

followed the Spirit’s leading and began to

pray aloud:

“Father, sometimes you ask us to carry

loads that are too heavy for us. My sister

here has one of those loads. Could you

touch her and let her know the peace that

surpasses all understanding? Lord, she has

a desert to walk through, and I pray she

would feel your hand holding hers as she

journeys through it.”

As I prayed over Mrs. Mukhtar, her

shoulders began to twitch. I continued to

intercede for her, and her body started to

shake. Soon the gentle, rocking motion

turned to outright heaving and muffled

cries. I kept my hand on her shoulder after

I finished praying, and her tears turned to

uncontrolled sobbing.

In Urdu, she cried out in anguish, “How

could they murder him? All he did was

love people. He loved the Muslim people.

I cannot forget him. How am I going to

live without him? What if they kill my son,


My Pakistani associate seemed

uncomfortable with this strong display

of emotion. He patted her on the back

awkwardly, telling her, “Don’t cry.

Everything will be fine. Please don’t cry.”

But everything would not be fine. God was

still in control, and He would walk with her

in her pain, but things were not fine.

Her life had been irretrievably broken.

I sat there with my hand on her heaving

shoulder and prayed in the stillness of my

heart. Then, my tears started to flow as

well. The Word tells us to weep with those

who weep, and I did.

Mrs. Mukhtar after the loss of her

husband when Jeff met her.


Persecution | FEBRUARY 2023

Front Lines of Ministry


My tears fell freely that day. I wasn’t

ashamed, and neither was Mrs. Mukhtar.

Before I left, she took my hand in both

of her own and looked at me with her

tear-filled eyes. I will never forget the

expression on her face or the tone in her

voice when she looked up into my eyes

and thanked me.

What was she thanking me for? I knew it

was more than the money.

I wish I could capture that moment in

time. I wish you could see her eyes. Full of

sorrow but coupled with gratitude after we

cried, prayed, and cried together.

My job is simultaneously thrilling,

exhausting, and rewarding. I’ve heard

and seen too many accounts of horrific

atrocities committed against Christians,

many of which are accompanied by

graphic photos and videos. When I sit

in my D.C. office, reading a report from

halfway around the world, I don’t always

feel the pain of my brothers and sisters.

But, when I’m sitting face to face with a

victim or when my hand is on their heaving

shoulder, I feel their pain.

When I meet with the persecuted, I become

acquainted with their suffering. I consider

the effect on my heart to be a great benefit.

In the west, there is a superficial quality to

life as we strive for wealth and continual

ease and comfort. This phenomenon is

consistent with our human nature, but it

has a decidedly negative effect on us. We

face a constant pull toward narcissism and


Carrying the pain of our persecuted

brothers and sisters may be a burden, but

it is a restorative burden. I believe that it is

the cure for the frivolousness endemic to

Western life.

The pain of the persecuted needs to

become our pain. The Lord addresses this

repeatedly in the New Testament when He

refers to the Church universal as “the body

of Christ.”

On the day I met Mrs. Mukhtar, her sorrow

became my sorrow and still is. I left my

meeting with Mrs. Mukhtar knowing that

her heart had an exceedingly long desert

to walk through. I also knew she wouldn’t

be walking through that desert alone.

On that day, one exhausted and calloused

heart was softened and restored.

In short, the persecuted were changing

me. While I was paid to minister to

them, I found them discipling me in what

Christianity could or should be. They were

bringing life to my heart and leading me up

the mountain path of my spiritual journey.

I couldn’t see the path ahead, let

alone an endpoint

since the mist around

the mountain was

thick, and hid the


So, I kept watching

and listening to

the persecuted

and the martyrs,

as I followed

the master’s

footsteps – one

step at a time.

“How could

they murder

him? All he

did was

love people.

He loved

the Muslim


How am

I going to

live without

him? What if

they kill my

son, too?”



Grab your copy of Jeff’s

new and revised book at:

www.jeffkingblog.com or

scan the QR code below.


Pakistan Primer


When we think of humanitarian concerns, typically we think of Africa,

the Middle East, and maybe India. Pakistan is a nation that garners

less attention than neighboring India and Afghanistan. There is no

Islamic extremist group that has seized control of the country like

the situation in Afghanistan, nor is it governed by radical Hindu nationalists who

use “anti-conversion” laws as a means to target Christians, such as in India.

In a way, the situation in Pakistan is more egregious, as it combines the

oppressive-like nature of radical Islam with the pseudo-legitimate cover of

its nation’s laws to inflict persecution on its most vulnerable group.

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has proven intransigent to other

beliefs by enacting and abusing blasphemy laws. These laws create a

divide that marginalizes the Christian community and encourages

violence against Christians.

Despite the egregious treatment of Christians, their

faith remains firm.



I have had the pleasure of working with

Pakistani Christians from various walks of life,

and I am constantly humbled by their resilience.

Despite the abuse that Christians in Pakistan

suffer, they are some of the most gracious and

faithful people I have encountered.

I reflect on Psalm 82, where we are called to

“defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold

the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue

the weak and the needy; deliver them from the

hand of the wicked.”

Persecution | FEBRUARY 2023

These believers are anything but weak. In

fact, they are among the strongest people our

Father has graced us with. But they do need


We will do all that is in our power to keep young

girls from being kidnapped and forced to marry,

to give young believers the means to do more

than work in the sewers, and to break the cycle

of persecution in Pakistan and lift up those who

suffer because of their faith.

Quick Facts

POPULATION: 238,181,034

RELIGIOUS BREAKDOWN: 96.5% Muslim, 3.5% Other

(Christian and Hindu)

MAJOR SOURCES OF PERSECUTION: Radical Islam, government

oppression, religious nationalism, religious extremism, cultural


Forms of Persecution













MARRIAGE: Women and girls are

kidnapped from their families, married

to an assailant, and held in sexual

captivity. The perpetrators justify this

through forged marriage and conversion

documents. Investigations into these

crimes are often nonexistent and a lack of

justice encourages further victimization.


Extremists often target Christian places of

worship for deadly terrorist attacks. Many

Pakistani Christians fear the possibility

of further attacks, particularly when

celebrating major Christian holidays.


According to a 2020 report by the Center

for Social Justice (CSJ), a human rights

organization in Pakistan, at least 200

people were accused of committing

blasphemy. Blasphemy accusations often

have their roots in personal, professional,

or business disputes. These types of

comments can spark mob lynchings,

vigilante murders, and mass protests.

DISCRIMINATION: Pakistani Christians

face extreme levels of discrimination

due to their religious identity. They are

often regarded as second-class citizens,

working the filthiest jobs with no hope

of advancement. This discrimination

is frequently seen in the number

of Christians involved in Pakistan’s

sanitation workforce.






Time Line of Events

Sharia law formally incorporated

into Pakistan’s legal code

leading to a spike of persecution



Pakistan postures itself toward

the west by joining the U.S. in

its fight against the Taliban in



Election results strengthen role

of Islamist parties within the

political system.


Two pastors killed and a church

compound bombed. Police

protection is absent from these

and other cases.


A mob murders eight Christians,

leading to mass protests from the

Christian community about the

state of persecution.


Two suicide bombers kill scores

of congregants at the All-Saints

Church in Peshawar.


A ruling by Islamabad’s High

Court states that citizens must

declare their religion when

applying for ID documents,

voting, or applying for

government positions.


Gunmen assassinate a pastoral

leader at All-Saints Church;

vote of non-confidence thrusts

Pakistan into political instability.


Stifling the

Praise of God




Persecution | FEBRUARY 2023

Pakistan’s systematic suppression of religious freedom

has repeatedly earned its designation as a Country

of Particular Concern (CPC) by the U.S. Government.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at that time

that Pakistan’s designation was “for having engaged in or

tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of

religious freedom.”

Just months after this designation, Pakistan was thrust

into political turmoil following a vote of no-confidence

which ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan. No prime

minister has ever completed their term of service,

and historically, periods of political transition increase

religious minorities’ vulnerability.

Meanwhile, institutions such as the National Rehmatullil-Alameen

Authority, created to ensure education and

media adhere to Islamic values, are given increased

opportunity to function in ways that suppress human


While blasphemy laws have existed in Pakistan since

the mid-1800s, their formal usage within society has

increased steadily. These laws carry harsh sentences,

including life in prison and the death penalty. The laws

overwhelmingly penalize religious minorities for any

actions deemed offensive to Islam, and their subjective

nature magnifies the inherent religious freedom issues

contained within them. Any Christian may face blasphemy

accusations based on community perceptions rather than

any actual crime.

Women who belong to a religious minority group are

often more severely targeted for persecution. Within

the Christian context, forced marriages are a common

practice that legally compels women and girls to convert

to Islam. Often these victims are kidnapped before the

marriage. Despite laws declaring a minimum age for

marriage, law enforcement is not reliable, and therefore

perpetrators often walk away with impunity.

While these are the two predominant forms of

persecution faced by Pakistan’s Christian community,

broader trends within the community exist that actively

discourage Christians from identifying and practicing

their faith publicly. For example, a Christian clergyman

was assassinated in January 2022 while traveling home

from church. Targeting a clergyman, whose dress is often

distinctly Christian, discourages other believers from

openly identifying their faith within society. That case also

served as an example of the authorities not conducting a

serious and effective investigation into persecution cases.

The U.S. decision to designate Pakistan as a CPC was

a positive step toward acknowledging the extreme

persecution that Christians face in Pakistan. The country’s

current political instability is expected to increase the

vulnerability of Christians, requiring further detailed

human rights monitoring and a more detailed focus on

those groups regarding the status of minorities.


Pakistan made the list for one of the worst countries

to be a Christian in ICC’s Persecutor of the Year Awards

report. If you’re interested in learning more about

Pakistan or the other persecutors featured, scan the QR

code or visit www.persecution.org/poy


The Flight of

Afghan Christians

to Pakistan


Persecution | FEBRUARY 2023



Christians and other refugees looking to leave

Afghanistan have few choices. Neighboring

Pakistan had potential exit routes, but the Pakistani

government has clamped down on refugees wishing

to enter the country.

Pakistan was not equipped to manage a refugee crisis, but

thousands of refugees crossed the border after the Taliban

takeover. Once Afghan Christians step foot in Pakistan,

however, their plight and journey are far from over.


ICC found 60 Christian families that had fled Afghanistan for

Pakistan. At least three decided to return to Afghanistan after

months of turmoil as refugees in Pakistan.

Sardar and his Christian family initially had difficulty getting

into Pakistan after the Taliban takeover. He was abducted by

the Taliban en route to the border and held until his family

could pay a ransom. They managed to scrape the money

together, devastating them financially.

While Pakistan received refugees previously, the number of

families that arrived following the collapse of Afghanistan was

unprecedented. Thousands of Afghans flooded into Pakistan,

so Sardar’s family was insignificant and their struggles

commonplace. As with all the Christian refugee families,

these struggles would undoubtedly have been worse had

they been discovered as Christians.

Sardar and his family considered it better to return to

Afghanistan. The fact that he had been subjected to the

Taliban’s cruelties firsthand and still decided to go back

illustrates the dreadful state of Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

He has experienced what the Taliban is capable of and knows

how much worse it will be if the Taliban captures him again.

Despite the ever-present danger to him and his family in

Afghanistan, he felt there was a better chance of survival

hiding in the shadows of the Taliban rather than eking out a

life in Pakistan.

Once in Pakistan, Sardar and his family were not well received.

Like nearly all refugees, they faced hunger and poor living

conditions. With no means of work, they were at the mercy

of Pakistan’s refugee system.


ICC released a report detailing the experiences of Afghan

Christians after the Taliban takeover and what life looks

like in the wake of the destruction. Visit our website’s

Report Page or scan the QR code to read the report.



with Knowledge and Skills


Persecution | FEBRUARY 2023




Survivors of gruesome terrorist attacks have a long

journey ahead of them after the dust settles from

the bombs and loved ones are laid to rest. For

the All-Saints Church bombing in Pakistan that claimed

the lives of 127 and injured 250 churchgoers Sunday

morning, September 23, 2013, many children were left

to navigate the world as orphans.

The children lost parents, but ICC launched a school

program to ensure that their futures weren’t stolen,

too. ICC’s Generation Transformation program, borne

out of trial and loss, gives long-term hope through

education and job training.

Persecution, rooted in a prison of desperate poverty

and political powerlessness, stems from generational

educational deficits, job discrimination, and lack of

access to capital. Education and vocational training can

break cycles of persecution.


“I have gone through very difficult

times. Every moment I miss my

parents. However, I am thankful

to my guardians and ICC for

supporting and taking care of me.”


ICC takes the best and the brightest

persecuted Christian children and gives

them a top-notch education in private

schools or provides vocational training to

turn them into carpenters, plumbers, and


There are nearly 200 students in the

Generation Transformation program – most

are sponsored by donors. Almost ten years

after the All-Saints Church bombing, our

staff has walked with these children as they

have grown up, discovered their passions,

and developed big dreams.

“I lost my papa and mama when the [All-

Saints] Church was attacked in September

2013,” said Mariam. “I had no idea what

had happened on that day as I was just

about four years old. I have gone through

very difficult times. Every moment I miss

my parents. However, I am thankful to

my guardians and ICC for supporting and

taking care of me.”

ICC has been helping Mariam since the

church attack.

“In the future, I want to be a doctor. A part

of my professional career will be dedicated

to the uplift of the needy and deserving

people,” Mariam told ICC. “If ICC weren’t

there to support me, I would have never

gone to school because I lost my parents,

and my relatives were financially not so


ICC covers students’ tuition, books,

uniforms, travel costs, and other

educational expenses for the duration

of their enrollment – funds go directly to

the families, with heavy monitoring and


Churches, ICC staff in the country,

representatives, and colleges and

universities or peer organizations refer

students to the program.

University students typically enter the

program on a three-year degree path across

a wide range of disciplines. Vocational

students are either on a one-year or

three-year degree path. The vocations

include electrical, mechanical, welding,

refrigeration/air conditioning, information

technology, and carpentry. The funds for

the academic year are released depending

on when the students are accepted into

the Generation Transformation program.

ICC has partnered with other Christian

organizations running educational

programs and internships in Pakistan.

These partners have expanded Generation

Transformation to include vocations in

media, broadcasting, writing, and more.

There are currently 115 university and

vocational students receiving aid from

Generation Transformation. The third

intake of students is being planned for the

second half of 2022, with more than 50

applications for university, vocational, and

internship opportunities.


Persecution | FEBRUARY 2023



Persecution | FEBRUARY 2023

Healing the


Scars of




ICC recently conducted a trauma training session for students who have suffered

trauma and persecution due to their religious beliefs. This training helped equip

participants with the knowledge needed to establish a social support group,

create a work-life balance, and implement measures to mitigate trauma within

their families and lives.

“We hide our religion portion in our resume to avoid rejection. We don’t get jobs

easily if we reveal our identity no matter how qualified or capable,” said another

participant. “We are constantly made to believe that we are impure, dirty, infidels

in one way or the other by our peers, neighbors, colleagues, and friends. They

don’t drink and eat with us.”

The participating students were able to learn about the issue of trauma and its

impact on people as well as develop personal coping strategies. Many of the

students surveyed had a high level of stress and trauma. Together, in a safe

environment, they were able to share their experiences.

Art: iStock.com/stellalevi


“We are intentionally kept distressed,

disadvantaged, and vulnerable at all levels.

We don’t have any status in society. We

face unethical behavior from our law

enforcement agencies,” one student said.

“We are discriminated on the basis of our

faith, color, events, rituals, and dress code.”

One interesting note was that many of

the participants believed that some of

the issues they were experiencing in their

lives could be attributed to a plan by God.

Female students shared that they often

face gender inequality in their own families

from parents.

“Our parents start looking for our matches

for marriages instead of focusing on our

careers. They prefer if the match is from

any foreign country or aged with wealth as

they want to secure other siblings’ careers

at the cost of our choice,” said another


Male students expressed the weight they

feel to hold it all together for their families

despite the challenges they face.

“We don’t feel pain, we don’t have

emotion,” one participant expressed.

By the end of this trauma training session,

participating students had become more

informed about issues related to trauma,

had better coping mechanisms to rely on,

and understood ways in which they can

support one another when it comes to

mitigating issues within their families or

daily lives.

The trauma-informed therapist that was

conducting the two-day sessions observed,

“The meditation aspect of the training was

overwhelming for all. Each one expressed

their thoughts. There was a group who

felt connected with their loved ones, and

felt serenity, peace, calmness, joy, a divine

touch, and felt spiritually connected. Some

participants were overwhelmed with the

Holy Spirit and burst out with past trauma.

They released energy which was trapped

for years.”

Generation Transformation students gained

the knowledge, confidence, and awareness

of the impacts of direct trauma exposure,

and became empowered to explore and

utilize prevention strategies to increase

their resiliency to future persecution.

This crucial training helped many students

be better equipped to face the challenges

that come with being a minority in their

culture and future workplaces.

Photos of participants of the two-day trauma training sessions sharing their experiences.

Participants learned how to cope with the hard experiences they face as Christians.


Persecution | FEBRUARY 2023


Hope for the Present


Early in my career of serving the persecuted, I visited

Pakistan. I had dreaded going there because it is one

of the world’s most radical Islamic states and a very

dark place, especially for Christians.

The radicals are woven into all the culture of Pakistan.

Some are recognizable by their beards and dress, but

others wear the suits of businessmen, generals, and

government leaders. As a result, Pakistani Christians

must be incredibly careful about what they say and do.

One misstep can trigger a beating or cost them their

homes, jobs, their freedom, or even their lives.

Christian girls are often abducted, raped, and forced to

marry their rapists and convert to Islam, never to be

seen by their parents again. Many churches have been

bombed and pastors murdered. Pakistan is one of the few

countries in all my travels where I have felt vulnerable.

Once, in Islamabad, I was sitting at a stoplight in a state

of jet lag, dreamily pondering the plight of Christians

in Pakistan. I was thinking about how oppressed and

defenseless they were and thinking that I, too, was

defenseless, if only temporarily.

As I thought about that, I was staring out my open car


Persecution | FEBRUARY 2023

window at the surrounding traffic.

My gaze wandered from car to car as

we were boxed in and at a standstill.

I thought to myself, “If the radicals

wanted to kill me here, it would be

ridiculously easy.”

Suddenly, my eyes settled on a face

contorted with rage staring back at

me. The man’s clothing showed him

to be a radical Islamist. Leaning out

of a van 10 feet ahead us, he was

trying hard to get my attention and

there was no missing his message.

His face screamed, “You are not

welcome here, and if I could, I’d kill

you right now!”

Our eyes met for an instant before

I turned away, pretending to be

oblivious. As I looked away, my

host, Shahbaz, spotted him and

whispered repeatedly, “Do you see

him? Do you see him? Look at him,

he wants to kill you!” I let Shahbaz

know under my breath that I hadn’t

missed him, and I didn’t need to

look at him again! Within seconds

the traffic light changed, we turned

to the right, and the van went

straight, taking with it the hate-filled

eyes still locked on me.

Shahbaz relaxed when the incident

was over. Later, we sat down to eat,

and he said, “It’s not safe for you

to come here. Security is notified

every time an American comes here.

You never know if you are being

watched.” That day, at the stoplight, I

gained just a bit of an understanding

of the daily experience and mindset

of a persecuted Christian.

Walk through a dark alley at night

on the wrong side of town, and

you will get a taste of how the

persecuted Christian feels every

day. It’s a constant feeling of

vulnerability. They are keenly aware

that someone could be hiding in the

shadows, waiting to hurt them.

Christians in Pakistan are secondclass

citizens; in many restaurants,

Christians can’t eat with Muslims

or must use separate silverware. In

the Pakistani press (and society),

Christians (until recently) were

referred to as “garbage collectors.”

Consider what that would do to

“Suddenly , my

eyes settled

on a face

contorted with

rage staring

back at me. “


your psyche over time. You might

laugh at first and then feel angry,

but over time the abuse would take

its toll. You would start to think of

yourself as a “garbage collector.”

Christians are cowed, beaten down,

and always looking over their

shoulder to avoid any abuse coming

their way.


I had known Shahbaz for a couple of

years, and the curious thing about

him was that from the beginning of

our relationship, he always told me

that one day he’d be assassinated by


I never knew how to take those

comments. Pakistan is a convoluted

and corrupt mess, and I always

wondered if it was a ploy to gain

sympathy and more financial

support, or if it was real.

As our relationship grew, I saw it was

a simple declaration of an obvious

and inevitable outcome.

For years, ICC’s founder, and

then myself, had introduced

him to government leaders in

Washington, D.C. With those

connections, his reputation grew,

and over time, he rose to become

Pakistan’s highest representative

of its religious minorities. He

repeatedly stood up for the rights

of persecuted Christians against the

fundamentalists. He had a target on

his back.

As his time drew closer, he began

to distance himself from friends,

knowing that his end would be


A couple of months before his death,

I met with him in Washington, D.C.

I keep a picture we took together

then on my desk. His beaming face

reminds me that the martyr often

knows his end is coming. Shahbaz

chose to walk out his last days with

courage, serving King and Kingdom

with courage and selflessness.

Just a few months later, I read that

he had been gunned down by

radical Islamists outside his house.

This was an excerpt from Last Words

of the Martyrs. To get your copy,

visit www.jeffkingblog.com


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