Perhaps you’ve heard the news. Fires torching hundreds of properties. Entire households burned to the ground. Every personal belonging lost. Thousands of lives destroyed. The devastation has been unprecedented, and it will take years to rebuild that which can be rebuilt. But the personal tragedies and lives lost may never heal.
If you’re in the West, you may have heard about the tremendous loss in Maui, Hawaii. Wildfires have left a trail of death and destruction. As horrible as that is, that’s not what I am writing about today.
While Maui was burning in what was an act of God, Christian communities in Pakistan have been burning, torched to the ground, not as an act of God but as an act of evil. Trumped-up charges of “blasphemy” by Muslims in Pakistan against two Christian men set off a widespread rampage of attacks by Muslims against their Christian neighbors that have lasted nearly a week as of this writing.
In Pakistan, charges of blasphemy can carry a death penalty. Blasphemy can be as simple as “embarrassing” Islam. Sometimes, mobs of people take this Pakistani Islamic justice into their own hands. So much for the religion of peace.
For days, an out-of-control pogrom has been carried out against Christians, with law enforcement turning a blind eye as if there’s any legitimate excuse for that. Dozens of churches have been ransacked, looted, and burned to the ground. Hundreds of Christian homes were also attacked, looted, and burned. Things that were too big to loot were simply dragged to the street and burned. Countless Bibles have been burnt, desecrated and destroyed. All of this has displaced thousands of people, entire extended families forced to flee their homes and communities, seeking shelter anywhere they could, even makeshift tents in open areas. Not that this would make them safer from the attacks of their Muslim neighbors. It just made them more vulnerable, marked and open to assault. Just less to burn. They fled with the clothes on their backs and now have nothing left and no homes to return to.
Even if they could return, how will they ever move back, even if their homes are rebuilt? How will they ever feel safe among the Muslim neighbors whose hate was ignited against them and their faith? But they are stuck in Pakistan, with nowhere to go, as second-class citizens, tolerated but not really accepted. And the targets of evil hatred whenever there’s an excuse. There’s no recourse.
A few years ago, I posted a video on YouTube of a Christian man in Pakistan being lynched and burned to death. Apparently, that violated their “community standards” against violence. Earlier this year, because of that, YouTube blocked me. When I “appealed,” I got an immediate automated response that my appeal was rejected. I laughed at first, realizing that YouTube houses no shortage of gratuitous violence, but when it comes to posting real crimes to highlight the evil amid which Christians have to exist there, that’s too much for their sensitive community standards. I hesitate to post videos I have seen of the most recent violence, but they are real and horrific.
Unlike Maui, Pakistani Christians have no insurance. No state of federal money to rebuild. Police are not comforting, much less protecting, the victims in Pakistan. Pakistani Christians exist in the crosshairs of a society that’s simply unsafe. They are tolerated, sometimes, but not protected. Second class? How about seventh class?
In the past week, many of my Pakistani Christian friends have turned to me, in Israel, for prayers and support. They are heartbroken, devastated, and scared. Yet as much as they fear for themselves and their families, they are trying to help those most in need, as good Christians should for one another.
However, for them, simply reaching out to me, an Orthodox Jew in Israel, could trigger more violence, even lynching. As much as they may be “tolerated” in Pakistan, Israel and the Jews are the enemy.
They also know I’ll help because I care and because I did a year ago when floods of Biblical proportions and Christians suffered because of their status far more than average Muslim Pakistanis. Seventh class.
I undertook this effort then on behalf of the Genesis 123 Foundation, which exists to build bridges between Jews and Christians and Christians with Israel in ways that are new, unique, and meaningful. This includes looking out for persecuted Christians, specifically in the Middle East. A year ago, after unprecedented flooding across Pakistan, we stepped up to raise funds to support our Pakistani Christian friends who suffered even more of the devastation than the Muslim population. Unprecedented. An organization of Jews and Christians, run by an Orthodox Israeli Jew, reaching out to protect Christians in Pakistan. It was a blessing to do so, and it was our responsibility to be a blessing to the families of the world.
As entire families in Pakistan have been devastated, we launched a campaign again, urgently, to provide any funding, as generously as possible, so we can help with the rebuilding. Our partners and friends are reliable and have the highest integrity. One is asking for a meager $20,000. The truth is, even $120,000 is not enough. But that’s our goal. We want the impact to be felt as widely as possible because there are and will be needs far beyond the physical and tangible losses.
I pray that Jews and Christians, and anyone of good conscience, will step up and join the efforts.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Jcamilobernal
Jonathan Feldstein was born and educated in the U.S. and immigrated to Israel in 2004. He is married and the father of six. Throughout his life and career, he has been blessed by the calling to fellowship with Christian supporters of Israel and shares experiences of living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel. He writes regularly for a variety of prominent Christian and conservative websites and is the host of Inspiration from Zion, a popular webinar series and podcast. He can be reached at [email protected]