February 2023 Persecution Magazine

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FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong><br />












Contents<br />

FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong><br />


A shepherd in Pakistan attends to<br />

his flock. Christians in Pakistan<br />

are often forced into doing<br />

unwanted or dangerous jobs due<br />

to their second-class status.<br />

Photo: iStock.com/Wirestock<br />


12 16 18 22<br />



The Concerning Trend<br />

of <strong>Persecution</strong> in<br />

Pakistan<br />




Those Who Escaped<br />

the Taliban’s Grip Met<br />

Harsh Conditions<br />



Giving Students a<br />

Second Chance for a<br />

Brighter Future<br />




Trauma Training for<br />

Students in Pakistan<br />


04<br />

06<br />

08<br />

26<br />





ICC Projects Made Possible by Supporters<br />

Your Source for <strong>Persecution</strong> News<br />

A Deep Dive Into the Lives of Church Planters and Pastors<br />

Find Hope and Victory in the Messages of the Persecuted<br />

@persecuted @persecutionnews @internationalchristianconcern International Christian Concern<br />

OUR MISSION: Since 1996, ICC has served the global<br />

persecuted church through a three-pronged approach of<br />

advocacy, awareness, and assistance. ICC exists to bandage<br />

the wounds of persecuted Christians and to build the church<br />

in the toughest parts of the world.<br />

DONATIONS: International Christian Concern (ICC) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) (all<br />

donations tax-deductible). ICC makes every effort to honor donor wishes in regards to<br />

their gifts. Occasionally, a situation will arise where a project is no longer viable. ICC<br />

will redirect those donated funds to one of our other funds that is most similar to the<br />

donor’s original wishes.<br />

2<br />

MEMBER<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong><br />

© Copyright <strong>2023</strong> ICC, Washington, D.C., USA. All rights reserved.<br />

Permission to reproduce all or part of this publication is granted<br />

provided attribution is given to ICC as the source.<br />

STAFF<br />

Publisher Jeff King<br />

Editor Mike Anderson<br />

Designer Hannah Campbell

Peril in Pakistan<br />

The reality of persecution was cemented for me, in<br />

part, as I sat in the back seat of a car in Pakistan eons<br />

ago. It was during an in-country visit shortly after I<br />

took the helm of International Christian Concern (ICC). As<br />

I glanced out the window, I felt the rage of a terrorist who<br />

wanted to kill me (more on that later).<br />

That incident gave me a glimpse of the dangers our persecuted<br />

brothers and sisters face in Pakistan, but it was a<br />

widow who pierced my heart during that same visit.<br />

Pastor Mukhtar had a heart for serving Muslims. He witnessed<br />

to them for Christ, cared for them, loved them. Yet<br />

despite strangers’ repeated death threats, warnings, and<br />

visits to his doorstep, insisting he stop, Pastor Mukhtar continued<br />

to preach to lost and hurting souls. You’ll read more<br />

of my encounter with his widow on page 8.<br />

Radicals assassinated him, leaving his wife to raise six children<br />

and survive in a community that hated her, too. My<br />

time spent with Mrs. Mukhtar was one of the most memorable<br />

experiences of my ministry life.<br />

Jeff King, President<br />

International Christian Concern<br />

Author: The Last Words of the Martyrs and<br />

Islam Uncensored<br />

We cover Pakistan this month to bring special attention to<br />

this gaping wound of a place for believers. It’s a dangerous<br />

mess and has been for quite some time. The country’s carte<br />

blanche endorsement of Islam and blasphemy laws bring<br />

constant peril to followers of Jesus. It is one of the worst<br />

places to be a Christian on our planet.<br />

As you recall, that peril reared its ugly head about a decade<br />

ago when two suicide bombers killed 127 people and injured<br />

250 more at All-Saints Church. We have chronicled<br />

that incident over the years and continue to support victims.<br />

We will bring special attention to the massacre on its<br />

10th anniversary later this year.<br />

Thank you for coming alongside the persecuted and supporting<br />

our ongoing projects in Pakistan. Please know how<br />

much it means to us and our brothers and sisters who want<br />

desperately to openly worship their Savior but can only do<br />

so behind closed doors.<br />

In Him.<br />

- JEFF<br />


Your Hands and Feet<br />


Changing<br />

the world,<br />

one life at<br />

a time.<br />

AFRICA<br />

This Changed What I<br />

Thought My Life Was<br />

Supposed to be About<br />


The war disproportionately affecting Christians in the Democratic<br />

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

mother, and three siblings survived an ambush from radical<br />

Muslim terrorists on April 9, 2022, and fled to Beni empty-handed<br />

after their house was set on fire.<br />

At the time, Kavira was in college when her family was forced to<br />

abandon everything they had known.<br />

Kavira was faced with no other choice but to drop out of school<br />

due to her parents’ financial situation. She hoped to continue<br />

school, but with three years of tuition ahead of her, she wasn’t<br />

sure if she’d be able to.<br />

In response to her story, ICC paid for one full year at a new<br />

university where she’ll pursue her ultimate dream of studying<br />

medicine.<br />

“I thank ICC so much for this great support that has been given to<br />

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

I can get such support to go back to school. ...Now I hope that I<br />

will be a strong person to help the suffering people in the DRC<br />

when I complete my studies,” said Kavira.<br />

4<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

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


Freed From Hospital Debt<br />


Christians in Madhya Pradesh, India, face two major problems:<br />

the growing hostile discrimination against Christians and the<br />

consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. This combination pushed<br />

many pastors into vulnerable situations, as offerings and tithes to<br />

churches dwindled drastically.<br />

Despite this harsh reality, Pastor Lamar continues to train local<br />

leaders for church planting and evangelism. After his family became<br />

ill with COVID-19, they were all admitted to the hospital, incurring a<br />

substantial bill that pushed the pastor into financial distress.<br />

Not only has he struggled to make ends meet but it was also incredibly<br />

difficult for him to continue spreading the gospel as intended.<br />

ICC heard of Pastor Lamar’s plight and decided to intervene. We<br />

assisted the pastor in starting up a business so he could support his<br />

family and free them of medical debt. Now the pastor can return to<br />

spreading God’s word with more financial stability in tow.<br />


Land Stolen, Faith Restored<br />


Yusuf is a Christian living in Pakistan whose inherited agricultural<br />

land was stolen from him by a Muslim tenant. Mughal, the<br />

tenant, had leased the land from Yusuf’s father in 2012, with an<br />

agreement that it would expire in May 2021. When Yusuf’s father<br />

died in 2016 and ownership of the land passed to Yusuf, Mughal<br />

falsely claimed that his father had sold him the land.<br />

Mughal and several other radical Muslims threatened and<br />

violently beat Yusuf when he refused to leave his rightful property.<br />

This injustice has left him without any savings or support for<br />

himself and his family. He faces ongoing discrimination as a<br />

Christian which has prevented him from taking legal action to<br />

regain possession of his land.<br />

In order to help Yusuf get back on his feet and provide for his<br />

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

an experienced medical professional, this is a way for him to earn<br />

an honest and dignified income while continuing to pursue legal<br />

justice for his stolen land.<br />


ICC Newsroom<br />


Fulani Terrorists Slaughter 70 Christians in Central Nigeria<br />

Fulani militants viciously attacked innocent Christian<br />

citizens in central Nigeria, killing more than 70<br />

and injuring over 100. The sheer magnitude of<br />

the attack displaced thousands of families from their<br />

homes.<br />

Benue State government officials have now spoken<br />

out on the matter and have urged the federal<br />

government to take measures to protect its citizens’<br />

defense groups.<br />

“We are standing on our request for the federal<br />

government to give us a license for our Volunteer<br />

Guards to bear AK-47s and other sophisticated<br />

weapons,” said Secretary to the State Government<br />

Anthony Ijohor, representing Benue Governor<br />

Samuel Ortom. “The security agencies have been<br />

overstretched, and that being the case, our people<br />

have to defend themselves.”<br />

Unfortunately, attacks like these are all too common<br />

across many rural villages in Nigeria. As this violence<br />

continues with no signs of abating any time soon,<br />

Nigerian citizens may continue relying on themselves<br />

for protection.<br />

Indian Police Arrest Pastors and Newly Married Couple at Wedding Reception<br />

Nine Christian pastors and a newly married couple were<br />

unjustly arrested in Uttar Pradesh, India. Authorities<br />

detained the pastors after attending a wedding reception<br />

held in one of their homes. Police responded to pressure<br />

from radical Hindu nationalists who alleged that the pastors<br />

were using the gathering as an opportunity to conduct<br />

conversion activities.<br />

Witnesses reported that police entered the private event<br />

and searched the property, seizing Bibles and other<br />

Christian items. Despite no evidence of any wrongdoing,<br />

the police arrested the group using India’s draconian anticonversion<br />

laws.<br />

A Christian leader told ICC, “Christians are living under<br />

the fear of being targeted and attacked for no reason, and<br />

police just need a complaint for them to act and send them<br />

to jail under the anti-conversion law.”<br />

6<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>


Nine Christians<br />

Hospitalized After<br />

Attack in India<br />

120 Civilians Abducted in Village Raids<br />

Local sources report that more than 120<br />

people, including women and children,<br />

were kidnapped in a recent raid by<br />

unidentified bandits in northwestern<br />

Nigeria. According to the resident,<br />

who wished to remain anonymous, the<br />

bandits split into two groups and raided<br />

four villages – Kanwa, Kwabre, Yankaba,<br />

and Gidan Goga – kidnapping victims.<br />

This act of violence is yet another addition<br />

to the numerous violent incidents<br />

throughout Nigeria that have killed or<br />

abducted thousands and left hundreds<br />

of thousands internally displaced. Sadly,<br />

Christians are especially vulnerable to<br />

this religiously motivated violence.<br />

Nine Christians in Chhattisgarh<br />

were brutally attacked by a group of<br />

radical Hindu nationalists. The mob<br />

burst into a newly built church hall<br />

while members of the congregation<br />

were worshiping. According to local<br />

sources, the mob surrounded the<br />

church and demanded that the<br />

pastor and his brother come out<br />

of the hall. Many members of the<br />

congregation were seriously injured<br />

as a result and needed to be rushed<br />

to the hospital for treatment.<br />

Anti-conversion laws in Chhattisgarh<br />

are often misused by radical Hindus<br />

as a way to persecute Christian<br />

minorities.<br />

Christian Families Beaten Unconscious for<br />

Refusing to Deny Their Faith<br />

In India, a mob of radical Hindu<br />

nationalists and their village leader<br />

brutally beat two Christian families<br />

for refusing to deny their faith. This<br />

vicious attack occurred in the home of<br />

one of the Christian families as they<br />

were worshiping together. The violence<br />

started when the village leader gathered<br />

a group of people from nearby villages<br />

and accused the Christians of converting<br />

to a foreign religion and leading innocent<br />

tribal people away from Hinduism.<br />

Without warning, the mob entered<br />

the home, assaulted the two families,<br />

and inflicted serious injuries on three<br />

members.<br />

“The incidents of persecution have<br />

increased so much these days,” a local<br />

pastor told ICC. “Last month, a young<br />

Christian was beaten for refusing to<br />

recant his faith. Though we knock on the<br />

police station all the time, we receive<br />

little or no justice,” the pastor explained.<br />

Odisha was the first Indian state to have<br />

anti-conversion laws. Today, 11 Indian<br />

states have enacted anti-conversion<br />

laws, with two enacting them this year.<br />

“The incidents of<br />

persecution have<br />

increased so much<br />

these days.”<br />

- Local Pastor in India<br />

Attack footage shows the group<br />

of radicals surrounding the<br />

church with sticks as weapons.<br />


Front Lines of Ministry<br />


P A S T O R M U K H T A R :<br />

A Martyr for<br />

Christ in Pakistan<br />


8<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

When I think of struggling persecuted<br />

Christians, I think of Mrs. Mukhtar. She<br />

was married to a pastor in Pakistan, a<br />

man who was incredibly bold for Christ.<br />

In Pastor Mukhtar’s neighborhood, people heard<br />

the Muslim call to prayer five times a day from<br />

minarets atop the local mosques. Not to be<br />

outdone, Pastor Mukhtar installed a loudspeaker<br />

on the roof of his church. He planned to broadcast<br />

short prayers and sections of Scripture to the<br />

neighborhood.<br />

Pastor Mukhtar wasn’t some obnoxious rebel with<br />

a microphone. He had a great love for Muslims<br />

and was a compelling witness; many Muslims<br />

came to Christ because of his outreach.<br />

His deep love for Muslims and his success in<br />

winning Muslims to Christ deeply bothered his<br />

Muslim neighbors, earning him many enemies.<br />

In fact, his effectiveness was practically a death<br />

sentence.<br />

“DON’T WORRY”<br />

Strangers began to arrive at Mukhtar’s door to<br />

politely warn him against witnessing. Over time,<br />

the threats grew less subtle. He was told that he<br />

would pay with his life if he did not stop converting<br />

Muslims to Christianity.<br />

After each visit, his wife asked him, “Who were<br />

those people, and what did they want?” Pastor<br />

Mukhtar kept these threats from his wife so<br />

that she wouldn’t be afraid. He would answer by<br />

saying things like, “Don’t worry, dear, it was only<br />

business.”<br />

Despite the threats, Pastor Mukhtar couldn’t stop.<br />

God had revealed to him the key to life. He had<br />

to share that key with all those still imprisoned.<br />

Threats couldn’t stop him, even when his enemies<br />

offered to let him live if he would only stop<br />

preaching and allow the prisoners around him to<br />

quietly rot in prison. But Pastor Mukhtar could not<br />

accept such a small bribe. His deep love for the<br />

Father and for the prisoners around him forced<br />

him to keep going no matter the cost.<br />


Pastor Mukhtar was eventually assassinated. His<br />

murder was highly publicized. His widow feared<br />

that the men who killed her husband would<br />

one day return and silence her as well. After his<br />

assassination, state security services forbade her<br />

from speaking with foreigners. These restrictions<br />

applied to us, so we met with her in secret.<br />


When I met Mrs. Mukhtar, I was suffering from<br />

extreme jet lag and exhaustion after extensive<br />

travel. But I was there to find out how I could<br />

help her rebuild her life after the tragic loss of her<br />

husband, so I was eager to meet with her.<br />

Mrs. Mukhtar had six children, including several<br />

older daughters at home. In Muslim culture, a girl<br />

without a father is vulnerable, so daughters stay<br />

with the family until they marry.<br />

The stress of losing her husband and carrying<br />

the load of a large family left her shell-shocked.<br />

But Mrs. Mukhtar was stoic as she recounted the<br />

details of her living nightmare. From the outside,<br />

there was no sign that tragedy had engulfed<br />

her life just a few weeks earlier. Her lack of any<br />

outward emotion made it hard for me to relate<br />

to her at first.<br />

When I meet someone’s unvarnished pain, I<br />

tend to respond with empathy. If I see a person’s<br />

tragedy and their sorrows, hurts, and scars, I<br />

share in their suffering. So, while listening to her<br />


story, I became ashamed of my lack of<br />

empathy. Mrs. Mukhtar had suffered so<br />

much. Shouldn’t I feel her pain? Shouldn’t<br />

I feel that deep sense of compassion that I<br />

experienced in similar meetings with other<br />

victims?<br />

I was able to supply financial help for her<br />

and her family, but we had to cut our<br />

meeting short due to security concerns.<br />

Before we left, I asked if I could pray for<br />

her, and she consented.<br />

As I began to pray, I felt compelled to place<br />

my hand on Mrs. Mukhtar’s shoulder. I<br />

knew that would be crossing a cultural<br />

boundary in fundamentalist Muslim<br />

Pakistan, but I felt compelled to do so. I<br />

followed the Spirit’s leading and began to<br />

pray aloud:<br />

“Father, sometimes you ask us to carry<br />

loads that are too heavy for us. My sister<br />

here has one of those loads. Could you<br />

touch her and let her know the peace that<br />

surpasses all understanding? Lord, she has<br />

a desert to walk through, and I pray she<br />

would feel your hand holding hers as she<br />

journeys through it.”<br />

As I prayed over Mrs. Mukhtar, her<br />

shoulders began to twitch. I continued to<br />

intercede for her, and her body started to<br />

shake. Soon the gentle, rocking motion<br />

turned to outright heaving and muffled<br />

cries. I kept my hand on her shoulder after<br />

I finished praying, and her tears turned to<br />

uncontrolled sobbing.<br />

In Urdu, she cried out in anguish, “How<br />

could they murder him? All he did was<br />

love people. He loved the Muslim people.<br />

I cannot forget him. How am I going to<br />

live without him? What if they kill my son,<br />

too?”<br />

My Pakistani associate seemed<br />

uncomfortable with this strong display<br />

of emotion. He patted her on the back<br />

awkwardly, telling her, “Don’t cry.<br />

Everything will be fine. Please don’t cry.”<br />

But everything would not be fine. God was<br />

still in control, and He would walk with her<br />

in her pain, but things were not fine.<br />

Her life had been irretrievably broken.<br />

I sat there with my hand on her heaving<br />

shoulder and prayed in the stillness of my<br />

heart. Then, my tears started to flow as<br />

well. The Word tells us to weep with those<br />

who weep, and I did.<br />

Mrs. Mukhtar after the loss of her<br />

husband when Jeff met her.<br />

10<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

Front Lines of Ministry<br />


My tears fell freely that day. I wasn’t<br />

ashamed, and neither was Mrs. Mukhtar.<br />

Before I left, she took my hand in both<br />

of her own and looked at me with her<br />

tear-filled eyes. I will never forget the<br />

expression on her face or the tone in her<br />

voice when she looked up into my eyes<br />

and thanked me.<br />

What was she thanking me for? I knew it<br />

was more than the money.<br />

I wish I could capture that moment in<br />

time. I wish you could see her eyes. Full of<br />

sorrow but coupled with gratitude after we<br />

cried, prayed, and cried together.<br />

My job is simultaneously thrilling,<br />

exhausting, and rewarding. I’ve heard<br />

and seen too many accounts of horrific<br />

atrocities committed against Christians,<br />

many of which are accompanied by<br />

graphic photos and videos. When I sit<br />

in my D.C. office, reading a report from<br />

halfway around the world, I don’t always<br />

feel the pain of my brothers and sisters.<br />

But, when I’m sitting face to face with a<br />

victim or when my hand is on their heaving<br />

shoulder, I feel their pain.<br />

When I meet with the persecuted, I become<br />

acquainted with their suffering. I consider<br />

the effect on my heart to be a great benefit.<br />

In the west, there is a superficial quality to<br />

life as we strive for wealth and continual<br />

ease and comfort. This phenomenon is<br />

consistent with our human nature, but it<br />

has a decidedly negative effect on us. We<br />

face a constant pull toward narcissism and<br />

self-absorption.<br />

Carrying the pain of our persecuted<br />

brothers and sisters may be a burden, but<br />

it is a restorative burden. I believe that it is<br />

the cure for the frivolousness endemic to<br />

Western life.<br />

The pain of the persecuted needs to<br />

become our pain. The Lord addresses this<br />

repeatedly in the New Testament when He<br />

refers to the Church universal as “the body<br />

of Christ.”<br />

On the day I met Mrs. Mukhtar, her sorrow<br />

became my sorrow and still is. I left my<br />

meeting with Mrs. Mukhtar knowing that<br />

her heart had an exceedingly long desert<br />

to walk through. I also knew she wouldn’t<br />

be walking through that desert alone.<br />

On that day, one exhausted and calloused<br />

heart was softened and restored.<br />

In short, the persecuted were changing<br />

me. While I was paid to minister to<br />

them, I found them discipling me in what<br />

Christianity could or should be. They were<br />

bringing life to my heart and leading me up<br />

the mountain path of my spiritual journey.<br />

I couldn’t see the path ahead, let<br />

alone an endpoint<br />

since the mist around<br />

the mountain was<br />

thick, and hid the<br />

way.<br />

So, I kept watching<br />

and listening to<br />

the persecuted<br />

and the martyrs,<br />

as I followed<br />

the master’s<br />

footsteps – one<br />

step at a time.<br />

“How could<br />

they murder<br />

him? All he<br />

did was<br />

love people.<br />

He loved<br />

the Muslim<br />

people...<br />

How am<br />

I going to<br />

live without<br />

him? What if<br />

they kill my<br />

son, too?”<br />

- MRS. MUKHTAR<br />


Grab your copy of Jeff’s<br />

new and revised book at:<br />

www.jeffkingblog.com or<br />

scan the QR code below.<br />


Pakistan Primer<br />


When we think of humanitarian concerns, typically we think of Africa,<br />

the Middle East, and maybe India. Pakistan is a nation that garners<br />

less attention than neighboring India and Afghanistan. There is no<br />

Islamic extremist group that has seized control of the country like<br />

the situation in Afghanistan, nor is it governed by radical Hindu nationalists who<br />

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

In a way, the situation in Pakistan is more egregious, as it combines the<br />

oppressive-like nature of radical Islam with the pseudo-legitimate cover of<br />

its nation’s laws to inflict persecution on its most vulnerable group.<br />

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has proven intransigent to other<br />

beliefs by enacting and abusing blasphemy laws. These laws create a<br />

divide that marginalizes the Christian community and encourages<br />

violence against Christians.<br />

Despite the egregious treatment of Christians, their<br />

faith remains firm.<br />


12<br />

I have had the pleasure of working with<br />

Pakistani Christians from various walks of life,<br />

and I am constantly humbled by their resilience.<br />

Despite the abuse that Christians in Pakistan<br />

suffer, they are some of the most gracious and<br />

faithful people I have encountered.<br />

I reflect on Psalm 82, where we are called to<br />

“defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold<br />

the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue<br />

the weak and the needy; deliver them from the<br />

hand of the wicked.”<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong><br />

These believers are anything but weak. In<br />

fact, they are among the strongest people our<br />

Father has graced us with. But they do need<br />

help.<br />

We will do all that is in our power to keep young<br />

girls from being kidnapped and forced to marry,<br />

to give young believers the means to do more<br />

than work in the sewers, and to break the cycle<br />

of persecution in Pakistan and lift up those who<br />

suffer because of their faith.

Quick Facts<br />

POPULATION: 238,181,034<br />

RELIGIOUS BREAKDOWN: 96.5% Muslim, 3.5% Other<br />

(Christian and Hindu)<br />

MAJOR SOURCES OF PERSECUTION: Radical Islam, government<br />

oppression, religious nationalism, religious extremism, cultural<br />

threat.<br />

Forms of <strong>Persecution</strong><br />

DIRECT<br />

FORCED<br />











MARRIAGE: Women and girls are<br />

kidnapped from their families, married<br />

to an assailant, and held in sexual<br />

captivity. The perpetrators justify this<br />

through forged marriage and conversion<br />

documents. Investigations into these<br />

crimes are often nonexistent and a lack of<br />

justice encourages further victimization.<br />


Extremists often target Christian places of<br />

worship for deadly terrorist attacks. Many<br />

Pakistani Christians fear the possibility<br />

of further attacks, particularly when<br />

celebrating major Christian holidays.<br />


According to a 2020 report by the Center<br />

for Social Justice (CSJ), a human rights<br />

organization in Pakistan, at least 200<br />

people were accused of committing<br />

blasphemy. Blasphemy accusations often<br />

have their roots in personal, professional,<br />

or business disputes. These types of<br />

comments can spark mob lynchings,<br />

vigilante murders, and mass protests.<br />

DISCRIMINATION: Pakistani Christians<br />

face extreme levels of discrimination<br />

due to their religious identity. They are<br />

often regarded as second-class citizens,<br />

working the filthiest jobs with no hope<br />

of advancement. This discrimination<br />

is frequently seen in the number<br />

of Christians involved in Pakistan’s<br />

sanitation workforce.<br />

1990<br />

1991<br />

2000<br />

2010<br />

2020<br />

Time Line of Events<br />

Sharia law formally incorporated<br />

into Pakistan’s legal code<br />

leading to a spike of persecution<br />

incidents.<br />

2001<br />

Pakistan postures itself toward<br />

the west by joining the U.S. in<br />

its fight against the Taliban in<br />

Afghanistan.<br />

2002<br />

Election results strengthen role<br />

of Islamist parties within the<br />

political system.<br />

2004<br />

Two pastors killed and a church<br />

compound bombed. Police<br />

protection is absent from these<br />

and other cases.<br />

2009<br />

A mob murders eight Christians,<br />

leading to mass protests from the<br />

Christian community about the<br />

state of persecution.<br />

2013<br />

Two suicide bombers kill scores<br />

of congregants at the All-Saints<br />

Church in Peshawar.<br />

2018<br />

A ruling by Islamabad’s High<br />

Court states that citizens must<br />

declare their religion when<br />

applying for ID documents,<br />

voting, or applying for<br />

government positions.<br />

2022<br />

Gunmen assassinate a pastoral<br />

leader at All-Saints Church;<br />

vote of non-confidence thrusts<br />

Pakistan into political instability.<br />


Stifling the<br />

Praise of God<br />



14<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

Pakistan’s systematic suppression of religious freedom<br />

has repeatedly earned its designation as a Country<br />

of Particular Concern (CPC) by the U.S. Government.<br />

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at that time<br />

that Pakistan’s designation was “for having engaged in or<br />

tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of<br />

religious freedom.”<br />

Just months after this designation, Pakistan was thrust<br />

into political turmoil following a vote of no-confidence<br />

which ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan. No prime<br />

minister has ever completed their term of service,<br />

and historically, periods of political transition increase<br />

religious minorities’ vulnerability.<br />

Meanwhile, institutions such as the National Rehmatullil-Alameen<br />

Authority, created to ensure education and<br />

media adhere to Islamic values, are given increased<br />

opportunity to function in ways that suppress human<br />

rights.<br />

While blasphemy laws have existed in Pakistan since<br />

the mid-1800s, their formal usage within society has<br />

increased steadily. These laws carry harsh sentences,<br />

including life in prison and the death penalty. The laws<br />

overwhelmingly penalize religious minorities for any<br />

actions deemed offensive to Islam, and their subjective<br />

nature magnifies the inherent religious freedom issues<br />

contained within them. Any Christian may face blasphemy<br />

accusations based on community perceptions rather than<br />

any actual crime.<br />

Women who belong to a religious minority group are<br />

often more severely targeted for persecution. Within<br />

the Christian context, forced marriages are a common<br />

practice that legally compels women and girls to convert<br />

to Islam. Often these victims are kidnapped before the<br />

marriage. Despite laws declaring a minimum age for<br />

marriage, law enforcement is not reliable, and therefore<br />

perpetrators often walk away with impunity.<br />

While these are the two predominant forms of<br />

persecution faced by Pakistan’s Christian community,<br />

broader trends within the community exist that actively<br />

discourage Christians from identifying and practicing<br />

their faith publicly. For example, a Christian clergyman<br />

was assassinated in January 2022 while traveling home<br />

from church. Targeting a clergyman, whose dress is often<br />

distinctly Christian, discourages other believers from<br />

openly identifying their faith within society. That case also<br />

served as an example of the authorities not conducting a<br />

serious and effective investigation into persecution cases.<br />

The U.S. decision to designate Pakistan as a CPC was<br />

a positive step toward acknowledging the extreme<br />

persecution that Christians face in Pakistan. The country’s<br />

current political instability is expected to increase the<br />

vulnerability of Christians, requiring further detailed<br />

human rights monitoring and a more detailed focus on<br />

those groups regarding the status of minorities.<br />


Pakistan made the list for one of the worst countries<br />

to be a Christian in ICC’s Persecutor of the Year Awards<br />

report. If you’re interested in learning more about<br />

Pakistan or the other persecutors featured, scan the QR<br />

code or visit www.persecution.org/poy<br />


The Flight of<br />

Afghan Christians<br />

to Pakistan<br />

16<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>



Christians and other refugees looking to leave<br />

Afghanistan have few choices. Neighboring<br />

Pakistan had potential exit routes, but the Pakistani<br />

government has clamped down on refugees wishing<br />

to enter the country.<br />

Pakistan was not equipped to manage a refugee crisis, but<br />

thousands of refugees crossed the border after the Taliban<br />

takeover. Once Afghan Christians step foot in Pakistan,<br />

however, their plight and journey are far from over.<br />


ICC found 60 Christian families that had fled Afghanistan for<br />

Pakistan. At least three decided to return to Afghanistan after<br />

months of turmoil as refugees in Pakistan.<br />

Sardar and his Christian family initially had difficulty getting<br />

into Pakistan after the Taliban takeover. He was abducted by<br />

the Taliban en route to the border and held until his family<br />

could pay a ransom. They managed to scrape the money<br />

together, devastating them financially.<br />

While Pakistan received refugees previously, the number of<br />

families that arrived following the collapse of Afghanistan was<br />

unprecedented. Thousands of Afghans flooded into Pakistan,<br />

so Sardar’s family was insignificant and their struggles<br />

commonplace. As with all the Christian refugee families,<br />

these struggles would undoubtedly have been worse had<br />

they been discovered as Christians.<br />

Sardar and his family considered it better to return to<br />

Afghanistan. The fact that he had been subjected to the<br />

Taliban’s cruelties firsthand and still decided to go back<br />

illustrates the dreadful state of Afghan refugees in Pakistan.<br />

He has experienced what the Taliban is capable of and knows<br />

how much worse it will be if the Taliban captures him again.<br />

Despite the ever-present danger to him and his family in<br />

Afghanistan, he felt there was a better chance of survival<br />

hiding in the shadows of the Taliban rather than eking out a<br />

life in Pakistan.<br />

Once in Pakistan, Sardar and his family were not well received.<br />

Like nearly all refugees, they faced hunger and poor living<br />

conditions. With no means of work, they were at the mercy<br />

of Pakistan’s refugee system.<br />


ICC released a report detailing the experiences of Afghan<br />

Christians after the Taliban takeover and what life looks<br />

like in the wake of the destruction. Visit our website’s<br />

Report Page or scan the QR code to read the report.<br />



with Knowledge and Skills<br />

18<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>




Survivors of gruesome terrorist attacks have a long<br />

journey ahead of them after the dust settles from<br />

the bombs and loved ones are laid to rest. For<br />

the All-Saints Church bombing in Pakistan that claimed<br />

the lives of 127 and injured 250 churchgoers Sunday<br />

morning, September 23, 2013, many children were left<br />

to navigate the world as orphans.<br />

The children lost parents, but ICC launched a school<br />

program to ensure that their futures weren’t stolen,<br />

too. ICC’s Generation Transformation program, borne<br />

out of trial and loss, gives long-term hope through<br />

education and job training.<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong>, rooted in a prison of desperate poverty<br />

and political powerlessness, stems from generational<br />

educational deficits, job discrimination, and lack of<br />

access to capital. Education and vocational training can<br />

break cycles of persecution.<br />


“I have gone through very difficult<br />

times. Every moment I miss my<br />

parents. However, I am thankful<br />

to my guardians and ICC for<br />

supporting and taking care of me.”<br />


ICC takes the best and the brightest<br />

persecuted Christian children and gives<br />

them a top-notch education in private<br />

schools or provides vocational training to<br />

turn them into carpenters, plumbers, and<br />

electricians.<br />

There are nearly 200 students in the<br />

Generation Transformation program – most<br />

are sponsored by donors. Almost ten years<br />

after the All-Saints Church bombing, our<br />

staff has walked with these children as they<br />

have grown up, discovered their passions,<br />

and developed big dreams.<br />

“I lost my papa and mama when the [All-<br />

Saints] Church was attacked in September<br />

2013,” said Mariam. “I had no idea what<br />

had happened on that day as I was just<br />

about four years old. I have gone through<br />

very difficult times. Every moment I miss<br />

my parents. However, I am thankful to<br />

my guardians and ICC for supporting and<br />

taking care of me.”<br />

ICC has been helping Mariam since the<br />

church attack.<br />

“In the future, I want to be a doctor. A part<br />

of my professional career will be dedicated<br />

to the uplift of the needy and deserving<br />

people,” Mariam told ICC. “If ICC weren’t<br />

there to support me, I would have never<br />

gone to school because I lost my parents,<br />

and my relatives were financially not so<br />

good.”<br />

ICC covers students’ tuition, books,<br />

uniforms, travel costs, and other<br />

educational expenses for the duration<br />

of their enrollment – funds go directly to<br />

the families, with heavy monitoring and<br />

reporting.<br />

Churches, ICC staff in the country,<br />

representatives, and colleges and<br />

universities or peer organizations refer<br />

students to the program.<br />

University students typically enter the<br />

program on a three-year degree path across<br />

a wide range of disciplines. Vocational<br />

students are either on a one-year or<br />

three-year degree path. The vocations<br />

include electrical, mechanical, welding,<br />

refrigeration/air conditioning, information<br />

technology, and carpentry. The funds for<br />

the academic year are released depending<br />

on when the students are accepted into<br />

the Generation Transformation program.<br />

ICC has partnered with other Christian<br />

organizations running educational<br />

programs and internships in Pakistan.<br />

These partners have expanded Generation<br />

Transformation to include vocations in<br />

media, broadcasting, writing, and more.<br />

There are currently 115 university and<br />

vocational students receiving aid from<br />

Generation Transformation. The third<br />

intake of students is being planned for the<br />

second half of 2022, with more than 50<br />

applications for university, vocational, and<br />

internship opportunities.<br />

20<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>


22<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

Healing the<br />

Invisible<br />

Scars of<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong><br />



ICC recently conducted a trauma training session for students who have suffered<br />

trauma and persecution due to their religious beliefs. This training helped equip<br />

participants with the knowledge needed to establish a social support group,<br />

create a work-life balance, and implement measures to mitigate trauma within<br />

their families and lives.<br />

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

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

participant. “We are constantly made to believe that we are impure, dirty, infidels<br />

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

don’t drink and eat with us.”<br />

The participating students were able to learn about the issue of trauma and its<br />

impact on people as well as develop personal coping strategies. Many of the<br />

students surveyed had a high level of stress and trauma. Together, in a safe<br />

environment, they were able to share their experiences.<br />

Art: iStock.com/stellalevi<br />


“We are intentionally kept distressed,<br />

disadvantaged, and vulnerable at all levels.<br />

We don’t have any status in society. We<br />

face unethical behavior from our law<br />

enforcement agencies,” one student said.<br />

“We are discriminated on the basis of our<br />

faith, color, events, rituals, and dress code.”<br />

One interesting note was that many of<br />

the participants believed that some of<br />

the issues they were experiencing in their<br />

lives could be attributed to a plan by God.<br />

Female students shared that they often<br />

face gender inequality in their own families<br />

from parents.<br />

“Our parents start looking for our matches<br />

for marriages instead of focusing on our<br />

careers. They prefer if the match is from<br />

any foreign country or aged with wealth as<br />

they want to secure other siblings’ careers<br />

at the cost of our choice,” said another<br />

participant.<br />

Male students expressed the weight they<br />

feel to hold it all together for their families<br />

despite the challenges they face.<br />

“We don’t feel pain, we don’t have<br />

emotion,” one participant expressed.<br />

By the end of this trauma training session,<br />

participating students had become more<br />

informed about issues related to trauma,<br />

had better coping mechanisms to rely on,<br />

and understood ways in which they can<br />

support one another when it comes to<br />

mitigating issues within their families or<br />

daily lives.<br />

The trauma-informed therapist that was<br />

conducting the two-day sessions observed,<br />

“The meditation aspect of the training was<br />

overwhelming for all. Each one expressed<br />

their thoughts. There was a group who<br />

felt connected with their loved ones, and<br />

felt serenity, peace, calmness, joy, a divine<br />

touch, and felt spiritually connected. Some<br />

participants were overwhelmed with the<br />

Holy Spirit and burst out with past trauma.<br />

They released energy which was trapped<br />

for years.”<br />

Generation Transformation students gained<br />

the knowledge, confidence, and awareness<br />

of the impacts of direct trauma exposure,<br />

and became empowered to explore and<br />

utilize prevention strategies to increase<br />

their resiliency to future persecution.<br />

This crucial training helped many students<br />

be better equipped to face the challenges<br />

that come with being a minority in their<br />

culture and future workplaces.<br />

Photos of participants of the two-day trauma training sessions sharing their experiences.<br />

Participants learned how to cope with the hard experiences they face as Christians.<br />

24<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>


Hope for the Present<br />


Early in my career of serving the persecuted, I visited<br />

Pakistan. I had dreaded going there because it is one<br />

of the world’s most radical Islamic states and a very<br />

dark place, especially for Christians.<br />

The radicals are woven into all the culture of Pakistan.<br />

Some are recognizable by their beards and dress, but<br />

others wear the suits of businessmen, generals, and<br />

government leaders. As a result, Pakistani Christians<br />

must be incredibly careful about what they say and do.<br />

One misstep can trigger a beating or cost them their<br />

homes, jobs, their freedom, or even their lives.<br />

Christian girls are often abducted, raped, and forced to<br />

marry their rapists and convert to Islam, never to be<br />

seen by their parents again. Many churches have been<br />

bombed and pastors murdered. Pakistan is one of the few<br />

countries in all my travels where I have felt vulnerable.<br />

Once, in Islamabad, I was sitting at a stoplight in a state<br />

of jet lag, dreamily pondering the plight of Christians<br />

in Pakistan. I was thinking about how oppressed and<br />

defenseless they were and thinking that I, too, was<br />

defenseless, if only temporarily.<br />

As I thought about that, I was staring out my open car<br />

26<br />

<strong>Persecution</strong> | FEBRUARY <strong>2023</strong>

window at the surrounding traffic.<br />

My gaze wandered from car to car as<br />

we were boxed in and at a standstill.<br />

I thought to myself, “If the radicals<br />

wanted to kill me here, it would be<br />

ridiculously easy.”<br />

Suddenly, my eyes settled on a face<br />

contorted with rage staring back at<br />

me. The man’s clothing showed him<br />

to be a radical Islamist. Leaning out<br />

of a van 10 feet ahead us, he was<br />

trying hard to get my attention and<br />

there was no missing his message.<br />

His face screamed, “You are not<br />

welcome here, and if I could, I’d kill<br />

you right now!”<br />

Our eyes met for an instant before<br />

I turned away, pretending to be<br />

oblivious. As I looked away, my<br />

host, Shahbaz, spotted him and<br />

whispered repeatedly, “Do you see<br />

him? Do you see him? Look at him,<br />

he wants to kill you!” I let Shahbaz<br />

know under my breath that I hadn’t<br />

missed him, and I didn’t need to<br />

look at him again! Within seconds<br />

the traffic light changed, we turned<br />

to the right, and the van went<br />

straight, taking with it the hate-filled<br />

eyes still locked on me.<br />

Shahbaz relaxed when the incident<br />

was over. Later, we sat down to eat,<br />

and he said, “It’s not safe for you<br />

to come here. Security is notified<br />

every time an American comes here.<br />

You never know if you are being<br />

watched.” That day, at the stoplight, I<br />

gained just a bit of an understanding<br />

of the daily experience and mindset<br />

of a persecuted Christian.<br />

Walk through a dark alley at night<br />

on the wrong side of town, and<br />

you will get a taste of how the<br />

persecuted Christian feels every<br />

day. It’s a constant feeling of<br />

vulnerability. They are keenly aware<br />

that someone could be hiding in the<br />

shadows, waiting to hurt them.<br />

Christians in Pakistan are secondclass<br />

citizens; in many restaurants,<br />

Christians can’t eat with Muslims<br />

or must use separate silverware. In<br />

the Pakistani press (and society),<br />

Christians (until recently) were<br />

referred to as “garbage collectors.”<br />

Consider what that would do to<br />

“Suddenly , my<br />

eyes settled<br />

on a face<br />

contorted with<br />

rage staring<br />

back at me. “<br />

- JEFF KING<br />

your psyche over time. You might<br />

laugh at first and then feel angry,<br />

but over time the abuse would take<br />

its toll. You would start to think of<br />

yourself as a “garbage collector.”<br />

Christians are cowed, beaten down,<br />

and always looking over their<br />

shoulder to avoid any abuse coming<br />

their way.<br />


I had known Shahbaz for a couple of<br />

years, and the curious thing about<br />

him was that from the beginning of<br />

our relationship, he always told me<br />

that one day he’d be assassinated by<br />

Islamists.<br />

I never knew how to take those<br />

comments. Pakistan is a convoluted<br />

and corrupt mess, and I always<br />

wondered if it was a ploy to gain<br />

sympathy and more financial<br />

support, or if it was real.<br />

As our relationship grew, I saw it was<br />

a simple declaration of an obvious<br />

and inevitable outcome.<br />

For years, ICC’s founder, and<br />

then myself, had introduced<br />

him to government leaders in<br />

Washington, D.C. With those<br />

connections, his reputation grew,<br />

and over time, he rose to become<br />

Pakistan’s highest representative<br />

of its religious minorities. He<br />

repeatedly stood up for the rights<br />

of persecuted Christians against the<br />

fundamentalists. He had a target on<br />

his back.<br />

As his time drew closer, he began<br />

to distance himself from friends,<br />

knowing that his end would be<br />

violent.<br />

A couple of months before his death,<br />

I met with him in Washington, D.C.<br />

I keep a picture we took together<br />

then on my desk. His beaming face<br />

reminds me that the martyr often<br />

knows his end is coming. Shahbaz<br />

chose to walk out his last days with<br />

courage, serving King and Kingdom<br />

with courage and selflessness.<br />

Just a few months later, I read that<br />

he had been gunned down by<br />

radical Islamists outside his house.<br />

This was an excerpt from Last Words<br />

of the Martyrs. To get your copy,<br />

visit www.jeffkingblog.com<br />


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