World View

A view to those out in the world into our life.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Pakistan Earthquake Chronicles Part 2

(This is part 2 in a series from Matthew McClure, MD)

The country of Pakistan is an Islamic Republic and is under “shari'a law” which means that insulting the Qur'an can bring life imprisonment and insulting the prophet Muhammad is punishable by death. It is strictly enforced in the northern mountainous areas near Kashmir. There is strong persecution of the church in Pakistan. Christians are known as “sweepers” because the only job they are allowed to have is to sweep the streets and gutters of the town in which they live. You are allowed to be a Christian if you are born into a Christian family. This means you will face a lifetime of prejudice, discrimination, poverty, suspicion, and persecution. Open evangelism and conversion from Islam are not allowed. It is punishable by imprisonment and death to the Christian and is a sure death sentence for anyone converting from Islam to Christianity. The government cannot openly kill those converting, but it is allows and expects that one’s family should and will kill anyone converting to protect their family’s and the “Prophet Muhammad’s” honor. We had eight Pakistani Christians working with our medical team as translators. They were amazing men. One of their ministry outreaches was to take new Christian converting from Islam and hide them in a new city and to give them a new identity to keep their family from killing them.

We met our translators at Islamabad National airport and traveled north six hours to Balikot. This area has around 500,000 people that live in the major cities and many surrounding mountain villages. It is a very rouged region leading up to the Himalayas, similar to the Rocky Mountains in climate and terrain. This region was the epicenter of the earthquake. It is also the epicenter of radical militant Islam and terrorist training camps in Pakistan. It is the supposed area that Osama Bin Laden fled to upon leaving neighboring Afghanistan. (Hello to the FBI agent who will undoubtedly be reading this letter after the Carnivore Program or other similar antiterrorist email scanning program intercepts such suspicious key words as Bin Laden, terrorist camps, Pakistan, and Allah. I think you guys are doing a fabulous job. Keep up the good work!) It is a place where “Westerners” have not been allowed by the government for over 15 year for fear that they (the government) could not protect the tourists or visitor from the people. All that changed with the earthquake, opening up this closed region for the desperately needed disaster relief. Not only is aid from “white, western, Christian relief organizations” allowed by the government but it was welcomed by the people.

We camped on the grounds of Kunhar Christian hospital, a small hospital run by Dr. Harun. He is a Christian national who has been serving the Muslims of Northern Pakistan for over 17 years. He moved there after completing his training and opened a small medical clinic to share the gospel and the love of Christ with the patients he served in this closed area. Through years of persecution, trial, and service, he has turned the once small clinic into a full hospital where the gospel is actively and openly preached to patients. Kunhar Christian hospital was not the only hospital in the region. There was a Pakistani medical school and hospital, a military hospital, and two Muslim hospitals. I use the term “was” because all four have been completely destroyed, killing most patients and staff. Kunhar Christian Hospital was less than a mile from the closest of these, yet no building collapsed and no one was hurt at the hospital during the earthquake. It was built by the same contractors that built many of the government buildings in the local area with the same cheap building supplies and concrete as the rest, yet it is one of the only buildings still standing for miles around. It is now the only functioning hospital for the 500,000 people living in the area. What an amazing miracle! Not only is it the only hospital left, it is one of the only buildings left standing for miles and miles. What a testimony to God’s sovereignty and protection. It has not gone unnoticed by the people. There is much help needed though. Before the earthquake, Dr. Harun, the only physician for the hospital, was seeing an average of 100 patients a day in his clinic, not counting those admitted to the hospital. Now there in an even greater numbers of patients that need medical attention. At the moment, there are short term foreign medical teams that are helping bear the large patient load, but each day the numbers increase as the tent cities grow and as the surrounding communities hear with amazement the there is still a hospital standing. As international attention and media coverage dwindle, so will the relief help to the area. Though it is a tremendous blessing and opportunity to be flooded with so many Muslim patients, the coming winter will be a great trial for the small hospital. Please pray for Dr. Harun and the Kunhar Christian Hospital. Pray for continued support for the hospital in terms of staff and finances, for boldness, endurance and rest for the staff, and for openness of the patients’ hearts to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


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