Source: Orthodox Pakistan
March 30, 2016
Yesterday I was with my mother at the Liturgy in our church. When we returned home in the evening, I went out into the yard and heard the noise, the big bang, because my house is not far from the park, Gulshan-e-Iqbal in Lahore, where the tragedy occurred. We were less than one kilometer away.
I immediately went down the street and saw people running. People were celebrating Easter that day in Pakistan. I saw the bodies of the dead and wounded, and it is now known that more than 70 were killed and more than 300 were wounded. Many are in critical condition in the hospital. We already know that most of the dead and injured were Christians: Protestants, and Orthodox (although there were not many) were in the park that day. Daytime in Pakistan is very hot and most families go for a walk with their children in the evening and that is when tragedy struck.
Unfortunately, I do not think that the Christian Church in Pakistan will be able to help people with something other than prayers and visits to the wounded in the hospital. Yesterday I celebrated the Liturgy. If we talk about the Orthodox Church, I am the only Orthodox priest in Lahore. Of course, I'll do everything I can, I will visit people in the hospital, but my options are limited. I am very sorry that we can not do more!
The situation in the region is critical. Christianophobia and discrimination is very strong. I was in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, to speak to the European Union and the international community on this issue. Maybe it will draw attention to the issue of the persecution of Christians in the region. I am glad that people are at least concerned about the situation.
During my last visit to Moscow, I already told you that we are in some dire straits. I have no way to help, but I have to be with our parishioners, with His people. My house is right next to the scene of the tragedy. I'll probably have to think about how to move to a safer place, but in Pakistan, such a place may simply not exist. The pressure on Christians is felt everywhere.
In St. Petersburg, I met with Patriarch Kirill, who heard me. I served time in that region. But I am not a strong man. My strength is in your support, the support of the faithful, and I'm not talking about money! We have the cross that we must bear every day. This is the main thing I want to say. Of course, we need the support - we are in very short supply of medicine, many people are just hungry ... People here are not very well educated, but they have sincere faith in God. We are oppressed, but we know that they are able to do anything as long as the Lord is with us.
-Fr. John Tanveer
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