Saturday, September 28, 2013

God Undivided: Documentary ft. Bishop of Peshawar

In this documentary about the work of Bishop Mano Rumalshah in the Diocese of Peshawar, you can see the congregation of All Saint's Church worshiping.

The film gives a unique insight into the life of the Christian community in Pakistan.

PC Reports: Canada's Pakistani Christian Community Protests Peshawar Attack

On Thursday, September 26th, 2013; the Pakistani Christian community in Canada staged a protest outside the Pakistani Consulate in Vaughan, Ontario.

The protest was held against the rising persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan, specifically in response to the fatal violent attack on All Saint's Church in Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on September 22nd; that stole the lives of approximately 85 people and wounded nearly 150 others.

Claiming responsibility for Sunday's heinous attack was the Jundullah branch of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a group that has orchestrated attacks against even muslim Shia groups. On Monday however, the TTP's main spokesman denied any involvement.

The protest was one of many echoed around the world from the UK, Australia, US, India and throughout Pakistan.

Less than 200 of the large and extremely active Pakistani Christian community was able to make it to the protest itself however in a rare display of unity much of the prominent leadership in Canada from both social, religious and political groups set aside their differences to come together for this serious cause. This was seen by most as a hugely positive and necessary achievement.

Speeches were made by many including Shadab Khokhar (Awaz International), Pervez, Masih, Khalid Gill, Peter Bhatti (International Christian Voice), Raheel Raza (Muslims Facing Tomorrow), and more. Prayers were led by various pastors including Pastor Sarwar Din (Evangelical Asian Church), and Psalms were sung before the crowd was led in chants seeking freedom and justice for Christians in Pakistan; led by Shadab Khokhar and Khalid Gill.

Me personally? I think you all can do better, but so far this is a good start. My thanks to the many groups involved in organizing this including Awaz International, International Christian Voice, Canadian Christian Association, Canadian Cultural Association of South Asians, Evangelical Asian Church, Cornerstone Asian Church, Prayer Stone People's Church, and more; and was attended by other groups including my own led by Vincent Samuel (Love Thy Neighbour International).

My sincere thanks also to Raheel Raza, Muslims Facing Tomorrow, the Ahmaddiyya Muslim community for their unwaivering support of our people and for showing your solidarity with us by being at this protest and the church vigils that were held prior to it.

I was able to interview many of the participants and will be sharing that video later today. Please continue to pray for the victim's families and for those who have been gravely wounded and are still in harms way.

Vincent Samuel speaking with Toronto's first and oldest serving Pakistani Christian Pastor, Pastor Sarwar Din (Evangelical Asian Church)
Vincent with Father Manni, visiting Canada from Chalk 424 Montgomery Wala (Gojra Punjab, Pakistan).

One of the protest organizers Wasim Iqbal (Evangelical Asian Church) fixing banners for the protest.

Although the protest began later than initially expected, soon there was a crowd of near two hundred gathered in front of the Pakistani Consulate in Vaughan.
Pakistani Christian leadership standing united to protest the recent atrocities against their community in Peshawar.

Vincent Samuel of Love Thy Neighbour International wholly supported the organizations and churches that united together to protest the terrorism in Peshawar.

Pakistani Christian leadership stand united against the terrorism their community face in Pakistan.

A crowd nearing two hundred individuals from five organizations and various churches across the Greater Toronto Area gathered for the protest.

The crowd sang Psalms to the Lord, crying out for justice and thanking Him for His hand on their community.

Vincent Samuel of Love Thy Neighbour International took part in the protest wholeheartedly.

Raheel Raza of Muslim's Facing Tomorrow, her husband and friend also joined to show their solidarity with their Christian brethren.

The heat did not faze protesters, as more people continued to arrive in support until the very end.
Tabassum Iqbal and Vincent Samuel speaking at the protest.

Rawal TV reported on the protest with an hour long recording of the speeches and interviews with some Pakistani Christian leadership (see previous post for video).

Organizations involved in organizing the protest included Awaz International, International Christian Voice, Canadian Christian Association, Canadian Cultural Association of South Asians, Evangelical Asian Church, Cornerstone Asian Church, Prayer Stone People's Church, and more.

The crowd chanted "FREEDOM" for the Christian's in Pakistan, led by Shadab Khokhar (Awaz International).

Baby Petra wears her black band around her head, brought by mom and dad to protest the atrocities in Peshawar.

Although the community in Canada is enormous, and it was therefore disappointing to see less than two hundred people protesting; most in the crowd felt that uniting the leadership in Canada was a step in the right direction towards uniting the Pakistani Christian community at large.

In an attempt to ease tensions, the Pakistani Consular staff hands out cold juice and pop to the crowd protesting in the heat. This gentleman spoke briefly with Vincent Samuel stating "Aapka dukh humara dukh hai." ("Your sadness is our sadness").

Raheel Raza, Muslims Facing Tomorrow sharing her thoughts on the persecution of Christians in Pakistan.

Rawal TV's Coverage of the Canadian Pakistani Christians' Protest, Toronto, ON

Peshawar: Words Are Not Enough

Being a Canadian-Pakistani Christian blogger even I am surprised at how long it has taken for me to write about Peshawar. It's been difficult for me to come up with the right words, to find inspiration from that dark place to speak to you about what has happened to my community --another fatal, sinister terrorist attack.

On the morning of Sunday, September 22nd, 2013 nearly seven hundred people attending their local church (All Saint's Church, Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) forever had their lives altered by two unknown savages brazenly dressed as local policemen.

As the service ended, the joyous voices began to filter out of the entrance towards the courtyard before the massive old church, as is customary in our culture goodbyes are not said with quick words in rushed moments. We talk to each other, fellowship with each other. Some making meal-time plans for after church, invitations being given; hugs and smiles all around. Nearly seven hundred people began to file out to start their Sundays.

For many, that morning would be their last.

Suicide bombings are so common in Pakistan that it's just about become a pass-time for the foolish miscreants that are caught up in the religious war waged by extremist clerics; who've run the nation into it's own personal hell fire. This day was no different.

Approximately eighty-five people dead, and over one hundred and fifty people injured --many severely injured, many who I am afraid will not make it given the lack of decent health care in the country as it is.  Why? Because they believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, unashamed and wholly.

The images are shocking, but nothing compares to the reality. There in the stench of blood flowing freely from torn limbs, of singed flesh burst apart by the bombs; in the shock of seeing your father, your mother, brother or sister, aunt, uncle, grandparent, neighbour lying unmoving, wide-eyed with the pain they have suffered permanently etched on their face; this is what we --you and I are unable to see in photographs. The large majority of us have experienced nothing like it. No amount of imagination is ever going to be enough to prepare me for a trial like that. And it is the inimitable reality of every poor soul that has ever stood witness to terrorism as that in Peshawar.

Here in Canada we felt the wave go through our community, as it did all over Pakistan. Shock, sadness, anger, and then sadly for many --acceptance. After all, this is what happens to Christians who have the audacity to BE Christian in Pakistan, right? How foolish.

Just try and say to me right now that "persecution happens". YES it does. It has. It will continue. And for me that means I would be a fool not to fight against it. I am not a goat, and in the end I never want to have the need to say to my Saviour what I did for the least of these --He will know.

Remember family, faith without action is DEAD.

#PrayForThePersecuted #PrayForPakistan