PAKISTAN: 52 Days in Captivity

PAKISTAN: 52 Days in Captivity

The eight young Christians chatted excitedly in the back of their van as they headed toward far western Pakistan, near the border with Afghanistan. They had just completed a three-month discipleship course and were setting out on their first ministry trip. Then, on Dec. 24, 2017, their van had a flat tire near a local market. 

Knowing that people who lived in the area were Muslims and that many struggled with drug abuse, they distributed leaflets about Jesus Christ while their tire was being repaired. As a group of men gathered around a believer named Haroon, he eagerly told them about Christ’s love for them and encouraged them to place their faith in Him. Several people stepped forward to receive literature, but then one of the other Christians, Atish, noticed several men pushing their way through the crowd toward them.

“Come with us now!” the men demanded. They were members of the secret police. 

After ransacking the van, the authorities put five of the eight Christians (all of the men) into a car and drove them to a local police station. The rest of the group, three Christian women, followed in another vehicle. 

Police took all of the Christians’ belongings — their bags, computers, Bibles and SD cards. Scared and shocked, the young Christians began to pray. This was the first time they had experienced such opposition for their faith. 


Police led the five men into a room and began to interrogate them. “Did you come to spread Christianity here?” one of them asked. “You want all people to become Christians!” 

After an hour of verbal abuse, some armed soldiers arrived and repeated the same accusations: “You came here to spread Christianity!” they insisted. Then, compounding the Christians’ fear, the soldiers put burlap bags over their heads and loaded them into a truck, leaving the women at the police station. At about midnight, they arrived at a new location, where, still blindfolded, the interrogations continued for several more hours. 

In the early hours of the morning, around 4 a.m., the young men were loaded back into the truck and taken to yet another location. There, the soldiers hit their legs with a stick to make them talk. 

Haroon was scared. As the group’s leader, he was responsible for the students. “Please help us, God,” he prayed. After several more hours of one-on-one interrogation, the five believers were led into a room and ordered to sit down.

Each following day was the same — interrogations and beatings. “If you accept Islam, I will forgive you,” the interrogator told Haroon. “But if you don’t accept Islam, we will kill you. We will cut you up with a knife and throw you in the river.”  

Haroon was unfazed by the interrogator’s threats. “I am ready to die,” he replied. “I will not leave Jesus Christ. He is my Savior, and I am His son, and He will get me free.”

The five men were kept in dark cells, where they slept on a hot concrete floor. They were whipped, beaten with sticks, kicked, and forced to stand on one leg or remain in one position for hours at a time. During their beatings, they could hear the cries and screams of another captive in a nearby room. When they insisted during the torture that they would remain faithful to the Lord, they were beaten more severely.  

“We were very scared,” Atish said. “They told us we would spend six or seven years in the prison, and our families didn’t know where we were.” 

They got up at 5 a.m. each morning to pray together, and they maintained a regular schedule of fasting, with a different man fasting each day. They prayed for the people of Pakistan, for their parents’ comfort and strength, for perseverance and for freedom. “We were praying to the Lord, ‘We don’t know where we are, but please release Your favor so that we can go out,’” Atish recalled. They also worried about what might happen to the three women in their group. “We were praying for our sisters,” he added. 

Count to 500

After 52 days, the authorities again placed bags over the Christians’ heads and loaded them into trucks. They drove up a mountain, stopped the trucks, pulled the men out and ordered them to kneel. Atish thought they were about to be killed. Instead, however, the soldiers told them to count to 500, climbed back into their trucks and drove away. After waiting a minute, Atish lifted the bag from his head and saw that all of their captors were gone!

“We started praising and worshiping God,” Haroon said. “That day was very exciting for me. God helped us and answered our prayers.”

After flagging down a passerby on the road, the five young men soon returned home. They were thankful to learn that, although the women had been kept at the police station for a week, they suffered only verbal abuse.

Haroon and Atish returned to ministry work after their release, but Haroon struggled with anxiety for months and both men still deal with fear as a result of their ordeal. “I had bad dreams and worried that the same thing will happen to us,” Haroon said.

Atish said he relies on faith and prayer to overcome his fear. “Sometimes I become courageous, and sometimes it haunts me,” Atish said. “I would say that only prayer gives you strength in these trials.” And although Haroon’s family tried to dissuade him from returning to mission work, he too is unequivocal in his commitment to serving the Lord: “I am ready to die for Jesus Christ.”     

Secret police detained a group of young evangelists in Pakistan who were distributing leaflets about Christ. After their release, they returned to their ministry work.