In the aftermath of violent attacks in Pakistan, Azlan is a Christian worker supporting vulnerable believers with practical help and spiritual encouragement.
The aftermath of the horrific violence in Jaranwala, Pakistan, continues to affect Christians living there. After hundreds of men attacked churches and Christian homes in a coordinated attack, believers in the town are really scared. Azlan* is a Christian worker – part of the HOPE Community, an Open Doors local partner – who went to help those he saw in desperate need.
The courageous Christians living in Jaranwala haven’t been allowed to forget about the dangers facing them. Muslims in the community continue to threaten them. Azlan was himself approached by an angry man, shouting threats.
“As I walked through the streets, I heard someone mock me,” Azlan remembers. “He said, ‘How much longer will you come? You will forget. We will be here, and we won’t stop till each one of them becomes a Muslim like us.’”
Azlan was fearful too. He knew he was in a dangerous neighbourhood – but he couldn’t leave now. He was in this town to serve his vulnerable brothers and sisters. ‘No turning back, no turning back,’ he hummed to encourage himself.
Azlan says: “In the madrassas [Islamic schools] across the road, there were high walls, electric fences and other forms of security. But, somehow, the Christian homes which had nothing looked safer and more protected to me.”
What was it that made these buildings seem protected, to Azlan’s eyes? It was not the walls or the safeguards that protected these people, he thought to himself. God walked here. God saved His people. God stood before the mobs for the people of this town, the real church, the living stones. Azlan felt a sense of God’s peace flood over him.
As Azlan mulled over these thoughts, a woman called Hameeda* came to him and asked him to come to their home and help her husband with putting up their windows. He wasn’t a stranger in this community, now. Azlan has been to visit several times, and Christians in the town recognise him. They know that he is there to help them – Azlan is a handyman, and has the necessary skills to help believers rebuild damaged homes.
"Jesus has been everything to us and sustained us in these days." Hameeda, Jaranwala
Some houses were destroyed utterly, but others can be restored with the help of people like Azlan. Often, the believers can’t afford to pay him, but he is willing to help those who need the support.
In the course of their conversation, Azlan asked Hameeda, “Sister, how many people are there in your home?”
“Four,” she replied, “Me, my husband, my son – and Jesus. I cannot exclude Jesus. He has been everything to us and sustained us in these days.”
In the evening, when Azlan had helped the little family to install the new windows in their home, they invited him to stay for dinner. Cross-legged on the floor, wrapping lentils into flat breads, Hameeda’s son was thankful the windows would be closed that night. It would block out some of the signs of antagonism from the people nearby who hate them. He said: “The neighbours play their threatening sermons and I cannot sleep most nights. Thank you for coming and being with us.”
Azlan hopes to keep visiting the believers in Jaranwala. He offers not just practical assistance but fellowship and hope. Your prayers do that too – thank you for keeping this vulnerable community in your prayers.
*Names changed for security reasons
So many of you have given generously to the emergency appeal for victims of these devastating attacks. Thank you! There is still time to give, with your gifts contributing towards both the immediate and long-term needs of families.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.