Pakistan (MNN) – Ramadan, the most sacred month in the Islamic calendar, began last night. This month-long holiday is a period where Muslims fast from sun-up to sun-down and then feast at night in celebration to mark when Allah gave the Prophet Muhammad the first chapters of the Koran in 610 A.D. Learn more about Ramadan here.
Ramadan in Pakistan
Pakistan* is the second largest Muslim majority nation. During Ramadan, it is illegal in Pakistan to publicly eat or drink during the fasting hours. This puts minorities, like Christians, in the cross-hairs of the nation’s majority. After all, the season of Ramadan brings together a hangry society mixed with sectarian strife, throwing fuel on an already tense situation.
“[Pakistani] society as a whole is very antagonistic toward Christians. That’s why they have a low social status,” FMI’s Bruce Allen says.
Pakistani society is no stranger to terror attacks, suicide bombings, and even arson against churches. There have even been scenarios when after a church bombing, people will enter the situation posed as first responders and then kidnap children under the guise of taking them to a safe house. These kids have been forced into human trafficking, forced to convert faiths, and more.
FMI Churches Survive Shutdowns
But, earlier this year, Christian churches were threatened with closure if they did not meet security requirements by March 31. FMI planned to fortify Pakistani churches prior to the government announcement. Fortunately, resources were supplied in time to turn the 12-month project into a 3-month process. All FMI-supported churches in Pakistan were fortified in time to prevent shutdowns.
“By God’s grace, and the help of mission network news partners, we were able to fortify about 15% more churches than our original plan,” FMI’s Bruce Allen says.
The security changes FMI made to churches include CCTV installation, training congregation members for security, crisis response training, metal detector installations, and supplying quality first aid kits. However, churches not supported by FMI have already begun to be shut down for failing to meet inspection standards.
“We need to pray that church members whose congregations, churches may get close to the Lord would provide them with exceptional insight for creative ways that they can still meet together maybe, in small groups, maybe in homes, things like that, fly under the radar so that they can fellowship and worship, pray and encourage one another,” Allen says.
Be Prayerful, Be Active
As the month of Ramadan continues and churches in Pakistan struggle to meet inspection requirements, will you pray? Pray for the safety and protection of Christians in Pakistan. Pray opportunities would present themselves for the truth of the Gospel and the love of Christ to be shared. Ask God to use this season in Pakistani society to reveal Himself to the people and to use His church in the process.
“Ministry needs to be done creatively, carefully, with gentleness and respect as the Bible would tell us to do. And, the [FMI] partners are learning what that means, what that will look like in a place like Pakistan,” Allen says.
Pray also for the churches doing ministry to be led by the Holy Spirit so that through wisdom and gentleness they will make the Gospel known. Pray for these churches’ creativity in ministry as well.
To tangibly help FMI supported churches, click here.
*Pakistan is ranked #5 on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List. The World Watch List is a ranking of the top 50 countries where it is most severe to live as a Christian. Find the World Watch List here.
Header photo courtesy of FMI.