Featured OW News Updates

Praying for Pakistan – Jaranwala Attacks

On 16 August, a mob of Muslims attacked churches and Christian homes in Jaranwala, a district of the city of Faisalabad in Pakistan’s Punjab province. Local clerics mobilized crowds of men and boys following allegations against two Christians accused of desecrating the Quran.

Pakistan’s volatile and violent religious environment, exacerbated by the rise of Islamist far-right political parties, was once again demonstrated last week. The blasphemy accusations began circulating quickly, including via mosque broadcasts, leading to an angry mob of thousands armed with metal rods and other weapons converging on the Christian enclave. Some claim the attacks were planned and premeditated. Fires were started at churches and Christian homes, crosses were Bibles were burned, and even a Christian cemetery was vandalized. Footage shows the entire contents of homes burned to a crisp, the fires so hot that even concrete and brickwork were ruined. Many Christians were forced to flee for their lives, sleeping that night in the fields or wherever they might find shelter.

Estimates still vary, but it appears that dozens of churches and the homes of hundreds of Christians were damaged or destroyed. The mob appeared indiscriminate in their rage – the 30-plus churches that are confirmed to have been attacked include Catholic, Presbyterian, Salvation Army, Full Gospel, Church of God, and several smaller Protestant or Independent congregations.

Police arrived at the scene early on but failed to disperse the crowds or prevent any destruction from occurring, essentially functioning as bystanders until the worst of the violence had been done. The next day, over 100 were arrested in connection with the attacks, including the two originally accused of blasphemy. However, arrests by no means indicate that any charges will be laid against those who instigated or perpetrated such violence. Similar incidents in recent history saw zero convictions.

In Pakistan, desecrating the Quran or insulting Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, are violations of the country’s blasphemy law, which can be punishable by death. Passed down from British colonial rule, these laws have been routinely abused through false accusations by those with personal vendettas. Even more, the laws have been weaponized against vulnerable minorities – mainly Christians, but also Shi’a Muslims and Hindus. Those accused, as well as their legal representatives, often suffer lynching or assassination rather than court convictions. The fact that a mere accusation of blasphemy against two private citizens results in a mob destroying scores of churches and homes, burning large numbers of Bibles, and plundering personal possessions underscores the religious climate and the struggle for due process in the legal system.

Pakistan’s Christians, who number around 2% of the country’s 240 million, have long been targets for persecution. Christians tend to be poor, from lower castes Hindu backgrounds, and routinely face discrimination and injustice. The Jaranwala incident is only the most recent of such attacks. Within a couple of days, Christians from other areas were arriving at the scene to offer emergency supplies and food to their brethren who were left destitute.

It appears that the Pakistani government intends to rebuild the destroyed churches quickly, and our sources convey that even the destroyed homes may be restored by the government. This would be an encouraging development. In the meantime, those affected are left destitute. Many South Asians keep their wealth in the form of gold or jewelry; those were taken by the mob from Christian homes. The school year in Pakistan begins in August, and a number of Christian students who lived in the attacked community are left completely without belongings, never mind school supplies. Identification and other vital documents were burned. Most of the Christians affected undoubtedly suffered acute personal trauma.

Through its ministry connections with national Christian networks in Pakistan, the IPC can channel support and help to the believers in Jaranwala via a 501(c)3 charity. If you would like to be a part of ministering to Pakistani brothers and sisters whose homes and belongings were attacked or destroyed, write to  and ask for details of the charity.


Pray for those Christians directly affected by these attacks. Pray that the Lord might minister healing to their trauma (Ps 147:3), and that the peace that passes understanding would guard their hearts and minds (Phi 4:7). May God restore to them a double portion instead of shame (Isa 61:7), and may they experience God working all things together for their good (Rom 8:28).

Pray that Pakistani Christians, who often see themselves as powerless, might experience the power of forgiveness (Luke 6:27, Matt 18:21-22). Pray that they might learn the New Testament response to personal attack (Rom 12:17-21), by overcoming evil with good and leaving the wrath part up to God. (Christian history is full of powerful testimonies of how godly responses to persecution end up with the persecutors coming to faith. The spread of the gospel in recent years in Egypt and Indonesia was accelerated when Christians forgave and loved their Muslim persecutors)

Pray for the unity of the body of Christ in Pakistan. Attacks against it do not appear to discriminate, but Christians in Pakistan experience significant internal divisions, strife, and rivalries. This harms their own testimony to their Muslim compatriots, but is also unworthy of those who are Christ’s disciples (Phil 1:27, 2:1-3). May they make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Eph 4:3).

Pray for Pakistan’s Christian leaders. These are delicate and dangerous times for the Church. May they have a blameless testimony, a desire for unity, and a shepherd’s heart (I Pet 5:1-4, Acts 20:28). In engaging with government and the Muslim majority, may they know how to strike a balance between meekness and advocacy (Matt 10:16).

Pray for the 200 million Muslims in Pakistan – probably the world’s largest Muslim population. If we believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father, then we must redouble our prayers that Pakistani Muslims might encounter Isa al-Masih, who offers the assurance of salvation.

Pray for the ‘men of peace’ in Pakistan who desire godliness and righteousness. After the Jaranwala attacks, reports emerged of local Muslims sheltering Christians in their homes and displaying Quranic verses to indicate that these were Muslim households, thereby avoiding the wrath of the mob. May God reward these peace- and neighbour-loving Muslims with a revelation of Himself (Luke 10:6, Matt 5:6).

Pray for the violent Islamists. Some may simply use Islamism as a channel for their own violent nature, but others have been deceived into thinking that such practices are the way to salvation. They have been taken captive by the devil to do his will (2 Tim 2:26). Pray that they will come to their senses. May God bring disillusionment to radical Muslims who seek the death of others and lead them to the one who brings life. Pray that they might forsake their ways and discover the mercy of God (Isa 55:7).

Pray for the government of Pakistan. While its track record has not always been very good, restoring the destroyed churches and Christian homes is a just response. God has established the governing authorities so that people may live quietly and so that wrongdoers will be punished. (Rom 13:1-5, 1 Timothy 2:1-4). May those currently responsible for Pakistan’s governance have the wisdom to know how to guide this troubled nation, and the courage and integrity to do the right thing.