The priest from Pakistan: Hearing the blast, I immediately ran to the place of tragedy
Yesterday we were with my mother at the liturgy in our church. When we returned home in the evening, I went out into the yard and heard the noise, both from the Big Bang, because my house is not far from the park, Gulshan-e-Iqbal in Lahore, where the tragedy occurred. We were separated less than one kilometer.
I immediately went down the street, saw people running. People on the day was very much in Pakistan celebrated Easter. I have seen the bodies of dead and wounded, it is now known that killed more than 70 and wounded more than 300 people. Many are in a critical situation in a hospital. We already know that most of the dead and injured were Christians: Protestants, and Orthodox (although there were not many) were in the park that day. Day in Pakistan is very hot, most families went for a walk with the children is in the evening, and then tragedy struck.
Unfortunately, I do not think that the Christian Church in Pakistan will be able to help people with something other than prayers and visits to the wounded in the hospital. Yesterday I celebrated the Liturgy. If we talk about the Orthodox Church, I – the only Orthodox priest in Lahore. Of course, I’ll do everything I can, I will visit people in the hospital, but my options are limited. I am very sorry that we can not do more!
The situation in the region – a critical, Christianophobia and discrimination is very strong. I was in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, to refer to the European Union and the international community on this issue. I am very glad that this will write “Pravmir”, maybe it will draw attention to the issue of the persecution of Christians in the region. I am glad that people are at least concerned about the situation.
During my last visit to Moscow, I already told you that we are in some dire straits. I have no way to help, but I have to be with their parishioners, with his people. My house is right next to the place of the tragedy, I’ll probably have to think about how to move to a safer place, but in Pakistan, such a place may simply not be the pressure on Christians is felt everywhere.
In St. Petersburg, I met with Patriarch Kirill, which heard me – “strong man,” I serve time in this region. But I – not a strong man, my strength – in your support, the support of the faithful, and I’m not talking about money! We have the cross that we must bear every day. This – the main thing I want to say. Of course, we need the support – is in very short supply of medicines, many people are just hungry … People here are not very well educated, but they have a sincere faith in God. We are oppressed, but we know that they are able to do anything until the Lord with us.
If you would like to make a contribution to help with the difficult but critical work being done by Fr. John in Pakistan, please visit our donation page.
Lord God is great who always looks after us.
Last Saturday, at midnight while we were sleeping, 25 to 30 people came to attack us. They broke our main door, damaged our vehicle and windows. Then the situation became very odd because they were slandering our faith.We survived, but a lot of destruction has been done. We are thankful for our neighbors who supported us and threw them out. Now we are planning to move somewhere else. Even in this situation I will never stop strengthening our faith. This much I can say to you, that God surely is with us.
Thank you for your faithful prayers and financial support, the Orthodox Mission in Pakistan continues to grow both in size and in maturity. This newsletter will bring you up to date on a number of recent developments. We are are pleased to present to you an update on Father John Tanveer’s recent trip to Russia, a request for prayer for the people of Pakistan, and good news of an Orthodox man recently released from prison.
In June, Fr John had the great blessing to travel to Russia for 10 days. The trip was arranged by a Russian filmmaker who has been working on a documentary about Fr John and the Orthodox Mission in Pakistan. Fr John attended a screening of the documentary in St Petersburg, with hundreds of priests, bishops, archbishops and laity in attendance. The film was very well received. Fr John was honored to be invited to offer remarks after the film’s showing. He implored the large audience to give of their abundance to their struggling Orthodox brethren in Pakistan.
The trip coincided with the 25thanniversary celebration of the canonization of St John of Kronstadt. Fr John took a long pilgrimage from St Petersburg, traveling two nights by train to Sura, Russia, the birthplace of St John. He visited many churches and saw the famous “White Nights” (nearly round-the-clock daylight). The highlight of his trip to Sura was the opportunity—unplanned—to meet Patriarch Kirill, who also was in Sura at the same time. The two were introduced, and Fr John was overjoyed to realize that the Patriarch was already well familiar with Fr John and the Orthodox Mission in Pakistan. Fr John was greatly encouraged by the Patriarch’s words of support and praise for Fr John and the mission.
Fr John was greatly blessed by the trip, which he called a privilege. His faith was strengthened and he was greatly heartened by the reception that he received everywhere he went in Russia. “Although I’m a sinner priest”, he told us, the media in Russia were very interested in him and he granted many interviews. As he was preparing to depart Russia, faithful gave him chocolate as a parting gift – more than 50 lbs worth! Never before had he received such honor and respect as during his 10 days in Russia, and he returned to Pakistan encouraged and strengthened.
Prayers for Pakistan
Pakistan suffered intense heat waves earlier this summer, with more than 1,000 fatalities as a result. Now it is the rainy season, and Fr John tells us he’s very concerned about flooding. They are working to build a road to the church (shown in the picture below), which would help prevent flooding. Some parts of the country have already experienced mudslides. Let us pray for temperate seasons for the people of Pakistan.
Very Good News!
Fr John notified us that a young Orthodox man who spent nearly three years in prison on blasphemy charges (accused of insulting Islam) was recently released! It is not uncommon for Christians to be accused of blasphemy, which is a charge punishable by death. Sadly Christians also suffer vigilante justice – being murdered by their accusers before they can stand trial. Needless to say, Fr John is overjoyed that this young man was released and thanks everyone for their prayers.
The Orthodox Mission in Pakistan needs your support!
In order to continue serving the people of Pakistan, OMP needs our prayers and our financial support. We hope that you will consider giving your time in prayer and your financial support to further the work of the Church for the people of Pakistan. Please visit our donation page and consider supporting OMP financially.
We are thankful to God who is always with us and encourages us in our Mission.
Now the First Orthodox church is almost completed and we are trying our best to beautify the house of God. The Altar is ready and red carpet is put on the floor inside the church. The faithful are strengthening their faith day by day.
There are many things which are in need to strengthen Orthodoxy here in Pakistan.
Your moral support which makes us brave and healthy in awful situation.
We are Pakistani and we have motto of bringing peace in our country. In these days a big operation is going on against terrorists and a new law has come to deal with them strictly. Our communities are not safe but we ask you to remember us in your prayers that God may bring peace in Pakistan.
We have to work according to the signs of time. That is why we are trying to have good relations with everyone like the good Samaritan. This is the way to promote Orthodox faith in our country.
Your financial support is very much important.
We have to spend for food, utility bills, children`s school high fee, house maintenance , medication, transport etc.
We need a small van which could be beneficial for my pastoral activities like visiting the sick in the hospital, visiting communities in different areas.
I request you please, try to understand me and my situation. To look after the flock is not so easy. I have to see my own family and the family which is given to me by God in Pakistan.
I am very much afraid that I cannot fulfill the needs of my family because of my limited resources.
I appeal you kindly, do some thing for the promotion of Orthodox Mission in Pakistan. Church is extending day by day. Your penny is valuable for OMP
On February 6. 2014 the first consecration of an Orthodox Church occured in Lahore, Pakistan. Fr. John Tanveer is the priest who founded and built the parish.
Attending the Consecration were:
Metr. Konstantinos of Singapore and Fr. Martin Ritzi, Executive Director of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC), who secured an anonymous donation that made the land acquisition and building construction possible.
Many Orthodox faithful were in attendance, as well as a number of diplomats from Orthodox countries, and even local Muslim officials.
With thanksgiving to God for His gracious blessing and protection, the first service in the first Orthodox Church in Pakistan was held yesterday. The Church is not yet furnished for Divine Liturgy, but Fr. John gathered the faithful there for a time of prayer and thanksgiving. As you can see, they were not reluctant to proclaim the joy of the season to their neighborhood! Glory to God for all things!
Fr. John sends this message of greeting to us: “People are happy and praying for all of you in the world, that Lord Jesus Christ bring peace, love, unity and truth in the world.”
My heartiest thanks to you who are always on our side not to let us be in despair. Thanks for your love, kindness and concern.
Life is such that being humans many times we lose hope and are discouraged because of enormous problems. The fact is this that God lets us feel so to assure us that He is with us to the end of the world.
Our prayers continue to rise before God Almighty for all who love us and who are a means for our survival. May the Good Lord fill you with abundant blessings and grant you all that you need to spread His Kingdom.
Through these few words I want to thank the donors who painstakingly think of the Orthodox Mission Pakistan to continue the work of spreading the Word of God.