Thursday, April 21, 2011

Speaking out against persecution could paint target on believers

VOM’s Greg Musselman recently spoke with Mission Network News (MNN) about increasing persecution in Pakistan and the targeting of believers who speak out against persecution.

Musselman told MNN that Pakistan has always been a difficult place for believers to live, but as the blasphemy law (in which anyone can be sentenced to death for negatively portraying the prophet Muhammad or Islam) has come to international attention, tension has dramatically increased.

The case of Asia Bibi—a woman sentenced to death for allegedly blaspheming Muhammad while sharing her faith—has created particular outrage among Muslim and Christian communities alike, albeit often for opposing reasons. Believers are so perturbed by the injustice that they are willing to hold a vigil, but Musselman says this could be asking for trouble.

"You could be painting a target on yourself, and that could give the militant Islamists an opportunity—especially when they know that this event is coming."

It would seem that believers in Pakistan are in the midst of a catch-22. If no one speaks out against their persecution, attacks will continue unchecked.

Musselman anticipates many more church bombings (like the one that went off in Sarhadi Lutheran Church in Mardan) in the future. But if Pakistani believers do speak out against the injustice being done to them, they will also be persecuted further. Consider both Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who were assassinated for their positions on the blasphemy law.

As a result, some believers have already started to flee the country or go into hiding. Musselman says new converts live in extreme caution. "Those that come to Christ from Muslim backgrounds have to be very careful. They come late to the [church] service and leave early."

Pakistani Christians have always had to live under the radar, but now it seems as though "anybody that comes out against the blasphemy law or speaks out against Muslims and the treatment of Christians—they will find themselves in difficulty," explains Musselman.

Read the full story here.

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Pakistan. Pray any vigils that occur on Asia Bibi’s behalf would not incite more violence but would be an effective time of prayer and peaceful protest. Pray the Lord would guide each believer as to whether he should stay in the country or flee, and as to when he should speak up or be silent. Pray our fellow kingdom workers would courageously continue to live out Christ's love, reaching out even to those who persecute them the most.

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