This Christmas, some Christian families are making plans to avoid attending the same church service together in case of terrorist attacks.
Waseem Khokhar, a partner of Release International, said that some have made the decision to go to different Christmas services for the grim reason that, in the case of an attack, some family members will survive.
“Half the family will go to the midnight service, and the other half will go to the main service, because they don’t all want to die,” he said.
“If, God forbid, something happened, then at least one person would be left to look after their children.”
Christians in Pakistan have good reason to be afraid as suicide bombers have targeted church services in the past, killing scores of people.
Khokhar said that security is “a big, big issue” for Christians in Pakistan, who experience severe persecution for their faith.
Many Pakistani Christians are poor, especially those in rural areas. Some are enslaved as bonded labourers in brick kilns.
For this reason, a large part of the Christmas outreach for churches is providing food and other basic necessities.
“Many don’t have proper clothes to wear,” said Khokhar.
“Some say they have never eaten good food in their lives. So in this Christmas season, we always talk to them and share a Christmas meal.
“We take the whole month from the 1st of December until the 25th to look after them and visit them and try to meet their basic needs.
“If we are not sharing Christian love at Christmas, it is not really Christmas.”
Despite the threat to their life, Khokhar said that many Christians are determined to stay in the country.
“There are some Islamist groups who believe that the Christian minority has no right to live in Pakistan. But we believe that despite the discrimination, persecution and difficulties, God has put us here to be his witness, and we are ready to die for him,” he said.
“We celebrate every Christmas like it is our last, because there is so much uncertainty – but we always do celebrate Christmas.”
He is asking Christians in the UK to pray for believers in Asia who are facing the risk of attack this Christmas.
“We trust in the Lord. We believe He is our protector, our stronghold and our fortress, but we ask you to pray for our security while we hold our carol services and our public meetings. We commit these into God’s hands. Thank you,” he said.