A Pakistani pastor and his family were attacked in their home by a radical Muslim mob in response to his Gospel ministry and are now homeless, the Missionary News Network reports.
Pastor Aziz, a former church planter who is supported by FMI (formerly known as Forgotten Missionaries International) in the Balochistan province, was the target of an attack that took place on May 27 at his home.
The attack marked the third time this year that the pastor has suffered an ambush at the hands of radical Muslims angered by his growing ministry.
According to FMI executive international director Bruce Allen, 35 men beat him, his wife and college-age daughter after entering the family's home.
Fortunately for the pastor and family, the attack was said to have occurred as a police officer was patrolling the area. The officer and his colleagues were able to rescue the Christian family from the attack. But the mob seized the family’s home and they are now homeless.
“Pastor Aziz, who himself had come out of a Muslim background, has been evangelizing and church planting in the province of Balochistan,” Allen was quoted as saying. He said the pastor was targeted in order to stop his ministry from growing.
Aziz is said to have planted three churches in Balochistan, a province that borders Iran and Afghanistan. Aziz also operates outpost ministries along the border with Iran.
“These Muslim militants want to see that stopped,” Allen asserted. “But we are very glad that he is alive and he is determined to continue his ministry, even though he now has no home.”
According to Allen, Aziz’s congregations and ministries are still operating and have not been impacted by the attack. Although Aziz has faced two similar attacks already this year, it was the first time he was targeted in his home.
According to Allen, the family has previously faced persecution for their faith in Christ.
Over a decade-and-a-half ago, Allen said, Aziz’s 5-year-old son was kidnapped because of the family’s faith in Christ. Unfortunately, the family has not seen him since the abduction.
“Aziz has considered that all of his belong[ings] are lost to him, but he fully understands he is not lost to God,” Allen said. “Even though he has been crying on the phone as he pours out his heart … Aziz’s spirits remain high.”
Pakistan ranks as the fifth worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2019 World Watch List. According to Open Doors, converts from Islam — such as Pastor Aziz — face the brunt of the persecution in Pakistan.
Despite persecution against Christians and other religious minorities being carried out by angry radicals, perpetrators are often not brought to justice by local authorities.
Additionally, Open Doors warns that radicals in Pakistan seem to be gaining political power since the “new ruling government must maintain good diplomatic relationships with some radical groups.”
“Christian churches more active in outreach and youth work face stronger persecution in society,” Open Doors USA noted in a fact sheet on Pakistan.
Last December, the U.S. State Department listed Pakistan as a “country of particular concern” because the government has either “engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom.”
More recently, the Pakistani government has taken some positives steps.
Asia Bibi, a Catholic mother who was on death row for blasphemy charges, was acquitted by Pakistan’s Supreme Court last year. After months of delay, Bibi was allowed to leave Pakistan earlier this month to start a new life with her family in Canada.
Christians are not the only ones persecuted in Pakistan. Peaceful Ahmadiyya Muslims also face severe persecution. But in March, an 82-year-old Ahmadiyya Muslim prisoner of conscience Abdul Shakoor was released from prison in Pakistan after being held for three years on blasphemy charges.
Many Christians and Ahmadis flee persecution in Pakistan and seek refugee status in nations like Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Malaysia.