Ramadan begins, church ministry continues
News Alert: 100 million people are in the path of Tropical Cyclone Fani, which is expected to be India’s strongest cyclone in 20 years. Storm surges and flooding threaten large sections of the coast of India and Bangladesh. The storm made landfall on Friday. Several MNN partners are ready to begin damage assessments and mobilize the response. We will have more details tomorrow. Please pray for wisdom for them and ask God to make these ministries effective in this time of need.
Pakistan (MNN) – Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, began last night. This month-long festival is a time when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset and then feast at night to mark the moment when Allah gave the Prophet Muhammad the first chapters of the Quran in 610 AD. Learn more about Ramadan here.
Ramadan in Pakistan
Pakistan* is the second largest country with a Muslim majority. During Ramadan, it is illegal in pakistan eat or drink publicly during fasting hours. This places minorities, such as Christians, in the reticle of the majority of the nation. After all, the Ramadan season brings together a starving society mixed with sectarian strife, adding fuel to an already tense situation.
“[Pakistani] society as a whole is very antagonistic towards Christians. That’s why they have a low social status,” MFIsaid Bruce Allen.
Pakistani society is no stranger to terrorist attacks, suicide bombings and even arson attacks on churches. There have even been scenarios where, after a church bombing, people enter the situation posing as first responders and then kidnap children under the guise of taking them to a safe house. These children were coerced into human trafficking, forced to change their religion, and more.
IMF churches survive closures
But, earlier this year, Christian churches were threatened with closure if they did not meet the security requirements before March 31. The IMF was planning to fortify Pakistani churches ahead of the government announcement. Fortunately, the resources were provided in time to turn the 12 month project into a 3 month process. All IMF-supported churches in Pakistan were fortified in time to avoid closures.
“By the grace of God and with the help of mission network information partners, we have been able to strengthen about 15 percent more churches than our original plan,” says Bruce Allen of FMI.
Security changes IMF has made to churches include installing CCTV, training congregation members on security, training in crisis response, installing metal detectors and providing first aid kits. quality care. However, non-IMF-supported churches have already begun to be closed for failing to meet inspection standards.
“We need to pray that church members whose congregations, churches can draw closer to the Lord will provide them with exceptional insight for creative ways that they can still meet maybe, in small groups, maybe in houses, things like that, flying under the radar so they can commune and worship and pray and encourage each other,” 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 that opportunities will arise 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 people and to use his church in the process.
“Ministry should be done creatively, carefully, gently and respectfully, as the Bible tells us. And the [FMI] our partners are learning what it means, what it will be like in a place like Pakistan,” says Allen.
Pray also that ministering churches will be led by the Holy Spirit to share the gospel in wisdom and meekness. Also pray for the creativity of these churches in ministry.
To concretely help the churches supported by the IMF, Click here.
* Pakistan is ranked No. 5 on the Open Doors USA Global Watch List. The World Watch List is a ranking of the top 50 countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian. Find the World Watch List here.
Header photo courtesy of IMF.