Pakistani Christians agonize over state’s church demolition
For the longsuffering Christians in Nayya Sarabah (Chak 336) village, Toba Tek Singh district near Faisalabad in Pakistan, life has thrown a difficult challenge as they have been told to remove their properties and quit the church.
The Christians have since been agonizing over the pending plan to demolish the church building in the village and the restriction from worshipping there.
Since December 2017, they were warned not to hold any service in the church building as well as in any house in the village because the village is dominated by Muslims. A Muslim villager had said, “Muslims are in the majority in the village, we can’t allow a church here.”
The Police said that they could no longer protect the congregation during church service as the church is not part of the authorized list of churches to be provided security.
In Pakistan, churches are provided security on Sunday or any other day that Christians request police protection due to activities of terrorists in the country.
At the moment, Pastor Samuel Masih who runs the church as well as the congregation is worried that no specific place has been approved for the construction of another church.
The church belongs to Full Gospel Assemblies, an evangelical group working in Pakistan, and was built on land belonging to Rafiq Masih, a 70-year-old Christian.
Pakistan introduced the Punjab Security of Vulnerable Establishment Ordinance in 2015 to impose security measures on worship places, including church buildings after the Army Public School in Peshawar, was attacked in December 2014, when 141 people – mainly children – were killed.
The Ordinance says that “a committee, constituted under the law, will inspect vulnerable establishments on a quarterly basis and issue advice, in writing, to the manager of a vulnerable establishment for such security arrangements as may be necessary on the basis of threat perception”.
Rafaqat Masih, has been at the forefront of the struggle to resolve the matter.
Following a meeting between Christian and Muslim villagers on Saturday, 2 June, held in the presence of Deputy Superintendent of Police Muhammad Tahir, Rafaqat Masih said that they (Christians) were being forced to demolish the existing church structure.
He said that “they would let us build a church. They haven’t given any documentary proof that this piece of land would be transferred to Christians. The civil administration tells us that they cannot provide us security, so it is in our benefit that they have stopped us from holding a church service.”
A villager (prefers anonymity) said the Christians were not being treated equally. He explained that he had met with some senior government officials but could not get desired result.
The Full Gospel Assemblies remarked that it would not protest because it desired peaceful resolution on the matter.
Living Hope magazine is of the view that God is love, 1 John 4:16. Mankind is expected to show God’s type of love that is devoid of hatred, denial or persecution. And since we all desire peace for the world to progress, we encourage all mankind to live in love and have the fear of God, the almighty.
We are the sheep of His pasture and our rewards are with Him. Therefore, let us live in harmony for our world to be a better place.