Name | Khalida, Pakistan
On a September morning, Khalida Marriam, eight months pregnant with a baby boy, went to All Saints Church in the old quarter of Peshawar, Pakistan. As is customary, she left her shoes at the door and went inside to join her fellow believers in worship. No one sitting with her could have anticipated or even imagined the violent acts that soon would change Khalida’s life and the lives of many other Jesus followers.
As the crowd of worshippers exited the building, many found their shoes and headed toward the courtyard for a meal. There, two suicide bombers detonated enough explosives to leave more than a hundred people dead. Another 150 were injured. Severed limbs and bloody clothing littered the scene.
It was the deadliest known attack on Pakistani Christians in history. That night many of the world’s largest newspapers covered this tragedy, as did television stations, websites, and blogs. But by the next day, journalists and bloggers had moved on to other news stories.
Khalida will never forget that day. A ball bearing—shrapnel from one of the bombs—ripped through her abdomen, instantly killing her unborn child. She also suffered a broken left arm and multiple fractures in both legs.
At the hospital, the doctor performed a C-section to deliver Khalida’s son, who never drew his first breath. The doctor treated her arm and put rods in her legs to help them heal. The care was substandard, however. Two weeks after the bombing, the rods began rusting, endangering her life.
As Khalida cried tears of pain and frustration in the hospital, Christians stepped in and offered financial help to get her moved into a better medical facility. When she heard why they had come, she cried tears of joy.
“When God heals me and I leave the hospital,” she said, “my first stop will be at the church to say thanks to God.”
Accompanied by her husband and mother, Khalida then bowed in prayer with these supportive Christians. After she was transported to the other hospital, her mother said, “I heard angels are in heaven, but I see angels standing right before me. We never thought about going to this kind of expensive hospital.”
When she learned that thousands of brothers and sisters in America were praying for her, Khalida said,
“They are all saints. They are all angels.”
Some people might argue that Khalida and the others who attended that church are the true saints, the true angels. After all, they courageously worship in a country where many people stridently oppose their faith in Jesus. They put their lives on the line sacrificially in order to worship the one true God.
Even after such terrible attacks, survivors such as Khalida still trust God wholeheartedly. They still place their hope in him. They still praise him. They still thank members of the body of Christ who help them.
“We pray every day to the Lord,” Khalida said of her mother, husband, and daughters. “We read the Bible every evening and pray to the Lord for my healing and to bless the people who are helping me.”
Jesus followers throughout the world are all indeed blessed to get to know people such as Khalida. To us, they are not “yesterday’s news.” They are in our minds, hearts, and prayers day and night because they are our sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers in the global family of Jesus.
Paul reminds us that as a body of believers, we are to take on one another’s joys and sorrows: “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:26).
This is true no matter where we live. No matter how different our life circumstances may be. No matter how great or small our needs may be.
If God’s church is truly a worldwide family, then of course we suffer when another Jesus follower is suffering—whether that person lives in our home or many time zones away. Of course we want to extend a helping hand when another Jesus follower is in need. Of course we want to pray for this person as we do for the person across from us in our Bible study group. And of course we rejoice when we see the mighty power of God at work in that person’s life.
Pray that God will continue to use the worldwide persecution of Christians to bind us together in a tapestry of Spirit-filled unity so we can truly experience what it means to be members of one body, joint heirs in the family of God.
© 2016 Voice of the Martyrs. I Am N is published by David C Cook. All rights reserved.