In our world today (2019), Pakistan is ranked by World Watch List at #5 of the top 50 nations where "it is most dangerous to follow Jesus," ahead of Sudan (#6), Eritrea (#7), and Yemen (#8).
Muslim extremists regularly force conversions, so when believers refuse to convert, they are routinely attacked, beaten, kidnapped, their homes are burned, and some have even been rounded up and executed. Local police won't get involved, which means families have nowhere to turn for help. To date, 11,500 have fled to Thailand and Malaysia. As Canadians, we are in a position to help our brothers and sisters in Christ who have had to flee for their lives.
The church in Bangkok has been working hard since the situation first began to unfold about 8 years ago. Today, the evangelical Thai churches are overwhelmed by the sheer number of people arriving in their cities looking for help and by the protracted nature of the crisis.
Why have so many have fled to Thailand? Hope.
Once it has been alleged that an individual has spoken ill of Islam, there is an all out vendetta to bring the individual and his/her family to "justice." The police are notorious for not getting involved. Extremists have people in every city. Wherever the accused runs, they will be found. Watch this documentary about one family's experience after being accused of blasphemy.
After being physically persecuted with torture and death, a 60-day tourist visa to Thailand is the quickest, cheapest way to escape. Also, there is a UN refugee headquarters in Bangkok, and by mandate, the UN will try to find a new country to host any who receive official refugee status.
Unfortunately, the reality is very different. Although those things are true, the process can take 5 - 10 years. Worse, as soon as their tourist visa expires, refugees are regularly arrested and thrown in prison. If captured, they could be imprisoned indefinitely, have large fines to pay, or could be sent back to Pakistan. Please watch the August 2016 documentary the BBC did on the situation in Bangkok.
Families are forced to live in the shadows, forbidden from working, unable to speak the language (and not given the opportunity to learn), risking arrest anytime they go out, desperately seeking resources that will allow them to survive.
Over the past year, we have corresponded by email and Facebook with dozens of dear believers who are simply trying to survive. If they return to Pakistan, they will be tortured or killed. They cannot integrate into the Thai society, and yet they have no means to leave.
Thankfully today, we live in a time when we can connect with people on the other side of the world in meaningful conversations, and even provide practical help. As individual believers in Jesus, we can "each one reach one" and make a difference in the lives of thousands!
Tim and Susan have a list of several families who are alone and looking for hope as they wait on God to deliver them. We would love to connect our AGC people with a stranded family or individual - to pray for them, to correspond with them via email or Facebook, and to encourage them in their situation. As God's children, we have a duty to help our brothers and sisters in need. We have the resources and the means to do that. When we read in God's word, "For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home," and we know the heart of our Saviour, then how can we not do something? How can we not do what we can?
Please contact us for more information, or to be connected with a family today.