OVERVIEW: Pakistani churches include believers from diverse faith backgrounds, including both traditional and evangelical denominations. All Pakistani Christians face difficulty, discrimination and persecution because of their Christian identity. Some evangelicals take great risks to witness to Muslims, baptize converts and gather them into churches, and many Christians are working tirelessly to equip, encourage and educate Christian youth. Some Christians are bold in evangelizing and distributing God’s Word in radical Muslim neighborhoods and cities, some of which are home to extremist groups like the Taliban. Many Christians belong to the lower castes of society and are forced to work long hours in harsh jobs.
MAJOR RELIGIONS: Approximately 98 percent of Pakistanis are Sunni and Sufi Muslim. There are roughly 4 million Pakistani Christians, which is nearly 2 percent of the nation’s population.
PERSECUTOR: Pakistanis of Christian heritage are widely persecuted by society. Family members, radical Islamist groups and the government also persecute Christians.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN IN PAKISTAN: Because of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, Christians are at constant risk of being accused of blaspheming Islam, the Quran or Muhammad. Though there is often little evidence of these “crimes,” Christians receive harsh punishments when convicted. Many Christians live together in closed neighborhoods known as colonies, which provide a measure of security. Still, several large-scale attacks have occurred on these colonies in the past. The only schooling option for Christian children is government schools that teach Islam; Christian children often face harsh treatment in these schools, causing them to drop out before they complete their studies. In general, Christians are trapped in a cycle of poor education and poverty. Most are employed as indentured servants in brick kilns, as street sweepers and as sewage workers. There are a handful of long-term Christian prisoners, with others cycling in and out of prison due to blasphemy laws.
ACCESS TO BIBLES: Bibles can be printed and distributed legally in Pakistan. However, Muslim groups oppose the Bible. Those living in rural, tribal and mountainous areas have little access to God’s Word and translation efforts are ongoing.
VOM WORK: VOM provides outreach in difficult areas, training for local pastors and evangelists and immediate aid to persecution victims. VOM also supports distributions of God’s Word in various formats.