The fellowship of their suffering
Day of the Christian Martyr
How would you cope if someone you loved lost their life because of their faith? It’s not just the terrible shock of the moment they have to deal with, but the continuing grief and loss of a breadwinner.
Yet God is with these Christians in the midst of their pain. And along with God’s spiritual presence is the practical support and care that Release International partners can provide.
To commemorate the Day of the Christian Martyr (June 29) Release supporters heard moving stories of believers who lost their loved ones in bomb explosions in Pakistan.
Survivors described how God has been there for them in their suffering to Release International partner Rev Waseem Khokhar. There’s a link to the video below.
In 2015 and 2016, bombers targeted churches and a park frequented by Christian families in Lahore, Pakistan.
The Easter park attack killed 75, including some 30 children, and injured 300 more. A Taliban offshoot said its target was Christians.
Relatives rushed to hospital, but some were only able to identify their children by items of clothing.
The previous year (2015) bombers targeted two churches in Lahore, killing at least 15 and wounding 70 more.
Mother of eight, Mrs Balqees Kushi described the terrible realisation that she had lost her beloved husband, Khushi Masih, and how God stood with her in her anguish.
The blast outside the gate of Christ Church tore through worshippers as they were leaving the service and claimed her husband’s life.
Two days later, at his funeral, people started referring to Mrs Kushi as a widow. And that’s when the shock really came home.
‘For 21 years my husband and I lived together, and we were never separated, not even for a single day. There was a great love between us,’ she said.
‘I was weeping and weeping. I lost my mind. And one day as I was crying, I prayed: “God I don’t like being called a widow. Please help me.”
Then God drew Balquees’ attention to Isaiah 54:5: ‘For your Maker is your husband. The Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your redeemer. The God of the whole earth he is called.’
‘So after this God held me, and God promised me, “You are not a widow. I will be your husband.” And I told my children, “You are not orphans now and I am not a widow.”
‘So after that, day by day, I received comfort from the Lord.’
Mrs Kushi lost not only her husband but the family breadwinner. ‘We didn’t have any shelter and my children were not old enough to support me.’
Today, she continues to face the challenge of poor living conditions and scarce means to survive. ‘But still,’ she said, ‘I have a strong faith. I am reading my Bible and praying and believing that God is my husband.’
Kenneth Harrod heads up Release International’s Development Team: ‘To lose families to martyrdom is just the beginning of the story. There is an ongoing cost in the continuing needs faced by these families.’
Release has been working with the victims of the bomb attacks to provide long-term care. Thanks to your support, we continue to love and serve the families of Christian martyrs in Pakistan and many other countries across the world.
Added Mrs Kushi: ‘I thank you very much for your prayers and for your support. You have been a great help for me and for my family.’
You can see Mrs Kushi and others from Pakistan tell their stories here
The Day of the Christian Martyr Zoom event was covered by the Christian media, including Trans World Radio.
You can watch an interview here
Says Release CEO Paul Robinson: ‘We thank God that their lives and their stories challenge us in our faith and inspire us to live more fully as witnesses to Jesus Christ.
‘We must continue to pray for them.’