Pakistan – Religious Persecution
Despite repressive anti-Christian laws and the growing number of attacks on Christians, the work of the Army continues to progress in Pakistan.
This spring, a mob attacked the town of Shantinagar, burning 13 churches– including The Salvation Army Corps–and ransacking or destroying more than 1,500 homes, and injuring scores of Christians.
According to Major Chaco, assistant undersecretary for South Asia, the rise of fundamentalism–especially Islam–is a major cause of the problems. “In recent years, fundamentalism has become a growing problem. While the present government is in favor of Christians, governments change and we don’t know what the future will bring.”
In the midst of the problems, Salvation Army work continues to progress. “People in general are supportive of the Army’s work. The Salvation Army is growing especially in the villages. Previously, people were attracted to the Army through social work. Now, it’s through church and personal evangelism.
“We have a good team in Pakistan. If you have good leadership, it will help the people.”
The two biggest areas of need, he said, are medical work and children’s homes. “Medical services are not reliable. Private doctors and hospitals are too expensive for most. We need clinics and community health teams.”
In addition, the number of children’s homes is not sufficient, and expansion would meet the growing needs in this area.
Salvation Army work began in India when Major Frederick Tucker (later Booth-Tucker) led a group of pioneers to Bombay in 1882. The adoption of Indian dress, names and food helped the people accept the group, especially in the villages. Social agencies for victims of famine, flood and epidemic were soon begun in addition to evangelistic work. The Salvation Army began in Lehore (now Pakistan) in 1883. In 1919, Booth-Tucker heard that the government was willing to sell tracts of land to the depressed classes. The result was a successful farm colony at Shantinagar which at one time included 3,000 people. A certain portion of the land was retained and administered by The Salvation Army for those who could not afford to pay for tracts.