From the News—On Wednesday, March 02, 2011, in Pakistan, the lone Christian on the Pakistani Cabinet was murdered outside his home. Armed men littered Shahbaz Bhatti’s vehicle with bullets as he left for work in the morning. Shortly thereafter the Taliban claimed responsibility for the killing.
Bhatti served on the Cabinet as the Minister of Minority Affairs and was outspoken in his opposition to the blasphemy laws of Pakistan that are frequently used to persecute religious minorities, usually Christians.
Typically those accused of blaspheming the Quran or Mohammed don’t live to see trial, as thugs take matters into their own hands by killing them in transit to the courthouse or at their homes if they post bail. Those who’ve been fortunate to live long enough to receive a pardon or see the charges dropped are still in danger and have to flee the country or face almost certain death at the hands of “vigilantes.”
Pakistan has come under intense international pressure to takes its blasphemy laws off the books, but the nation has yet to make any changes. Those who push for change, like Bhatti, often receive death threats which are then carried out.
We must remember to pray for our brothers and sisters living in Pakistan and other nations where they are persecuted for their faith. Tertullian said that the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church, meaning that the gospel goes forth at the cost of believers’ lives. While we pray for peace and safety, our ultimate concern must be the advancement of the gospel
We must also remember to pray for the people of Pakistan and other nations. In addition to the numerous instances in Scripture where we are called to pray for our enemies, we are reminded that it is out of the mass of ungodly that God calls His people. When Paul was suffering persecution and wondered what was going to happen to Him, he had a special encounter with God where he was told, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people,” (Acts 18:9-10, ESV).