Pakistan is 95 percent Muslim and 2 percent Christian. The Christian minority faces sporadic, but often severe persecution from the Muslim majority. Christians are often not protected by the authorities when persecuted. Offending Muslims are often not prosecuted. Christians suffer under unjust blasphemy laws. Christians have been beaten, murdered, and have had their homes set on fire simply for bearing the name of Jesus. It is in that context that this story takes place.
Forty year old Pervez Masih was a janitor at Pakistan’s Islamabad International Islamic University. Pervez was a Christian. Masih is a common name among the Christian minority. It means ‘Messiah.’ Christians in Pakistan are relegated to the lowest paying jobs– janitors, garbage collectors, sewage workers, and servants.
On October 20, 2009, an Islamic suicide bomber tried to attack the women’s side of the campus. The bomber was on his way to the cafeteria where some 300-400 women students were gathered. Masih became aware of the bomber’s intention and went out to stop him. In the confrontation, the bomb detonated, killing Masih, the bomber, and three girls nearby. Meanwhile, the 300-400 Muslims girls inside the cafeteria were unharmed.
In the midst of the rubble from the explosion lay two martyrs. A so-called Muslim ‘martyr’ died for what he believed in, and had maliciously murdered others. A persecuted Christian died for what he believed in, laying down his life for people who had made themselves his enemies, dying to save Muslims from a fellow Muslim.
Professor Fateh Muhammad Malik, a rector of the university, said that Pervez Masih “rose above the barriers of caste, creed, and sectarian terrorism. Despite being a Christian, he sacrificed his life to save the Muslim girls.”
Perhaps it would be more accurate to say not “despite being a Christian,” but because of being a Christian, Masih laid down his life. That is what our Lord Jesus has inspired Christians to do.
Mark Early, writing for Prison Fellowship’s Breakpoint, wrote:
As news cameras showed the garbage-strewn cemetery where Masih is buried, I couldn’t help but think of God’s great reversals. A King born in a manger. A hero buried beneath garbage. And I couldn’t help thinking how one day this upside-down world would be turned right-side up again when Christ comes in his glory.
There were two martyrs that day. I prefer to believe in and be inspired by the One that inspired Pervez.
“The attacker clad in a black burka was heading towards the cafeteria for female students at a time when they were having their lunch. I felt something wrong as no girl student, even one who observes veil, wears a head-to-toe burka on the women campus. I intercepted the bomber, who shot me, and I fell down; but Pervez, who witnessed the scene, understood the designs of suicide bomber and held him at the entrance of the dining hall where the blast took place.”
–Mohammad Shaukat [a survivor of the attack who was shot by the bomber]
“There would have been dozens of deaths had the suicide bomber not been blocked by Pervez Masih.”
–Saifur Rehman, a senior security official of the IIU.
“Pervez Masih is now a legend to us.”
–20-year-old Sumaya Ahsan [Student of International Islamic University, Islamabad]
Masih’s daughter with a picture of her father.
See CNN report at:
Matthew 20:16 — (Jesus said), “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Matthew 5:43-45a — (Jesus said), “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:10 — (Jesus said), “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
I John 3:16 — This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
A PRAYER FOR ENEMIES: THAT THEY BE BROUGHT TO JUSTICE
Father, I pray for ______ that You might expose the evil done against _____ and that the perpetrator might be brought to repentance, or else experience the pain he/she inflicted on others. Let them be unable to sleep; awaken them with the painful reality of what they’ve done and judge them accordingly. If granting them blessings will lead them to repentance, then we pray for their blessing. If it must be tragedy that awakens them to the trail of evil they have left behind, then do whatever is necessary to bring them to their senses.
Meanwhile give us the sure confidence that You will do what is right and good; let us entrust the evil done against us into Your sovereign hand, and with that, let us be content.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.