afternoon, Sept. 21, a mob of several thousand Muslims attacked St.
Paul’s Lutheran Church in Mardan City, Pakistan. The attackers, armed
with rifles and kerosene, overwhelmed security guards and broke into the
church. They destroyed Bibles and prayer books, desecrated the altar
and set fire to the church building and several surrounding homes and
buildings. The mob was returning from a protest against the film
Innocence of Muslims, which has sparked violence in many Middle Eastern
countries this month and led to the death of Christopher Stevens, U.S.
Ambassador to Libya. In Pakistan, the government had declared Sept. 21 a
national holiday in honor of Muhammad, and the day had been set aside
for peaceful protests.
attack on the 82-year-old church lasted for five hours. The church staff
was able to flee, but those who lived on the campus lost everything. An
adjoining high school, a Christian library, a computer laboratory, the
bishop’s house, the bishop’s office, a pastor’s house and the school
principal’s house were all burned. The mob also burned a car, three
motorcycles and three bicycles. More than 2,000 Bibles, 100 New
Testaments and several hundred Christian books and DVDs were destroyed.
The attackers spray-painted the words “God is great,” “Oh God help us”
and “Love our prophet” on the church steeple.
St. Paul’s in Mardan, which is about 30 miles from Peshawar, was
built by British colonists in 1937. The church is active in sharing the
gospel with Muslims and also operates a Christian book store. A mosque
is directly across the street from the church. In the last two years,
the church staff has received six phone calls in which callers
threatened to kill them if they didn’t stop preaching and distributing
The day after the attack, church members and other local Christians
gathered in front of the burned buildings to express their
disappointment at the local government for failing to protect their
church. On Sunday, Sept. 23, more than 1,000 people — many more than the
church’s usual congregation of 300 — attended a prayer meeting at the
Pastor Gulam Shad, a church staff member and VOM volunteer, shared a
message from Rev. 2:10: “Do not fear what you are about to suffer.
Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you
may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful
unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (ESV). He reminded
the crowd that the Lord knows our suffering. “The teaching of Christ is
to forgive our enemies,” Pastor Gulam said. “His teachings are on
forgiveness and kindness. Today we have to be a role model for other
nations so they can see from us how we follow the teachings of our
The same church was bombed in September 2010, after an American
pastor publicly burned a Quran. Three security guards, including a
Muslim, were injured in the attack. After the bombing, VOM provided the
church with a generator, which was destroyed during the violence last
Source: VOM sources