“It appeared as if we’d all be killed like animals. But thanks to our God who protected us.”

These are the words of Martha, one of hundreds of Pakistani believers forced to flee their homes when a Muslim mob rampaged through the Christian area of Jaranwala, a city in Punjab, on 16 August 2023.

The extremists ransacked 27 churches as well as pastors’ houses, burned to ashes hundreds of Bibles, set fire to church furniture and stole anything of value.

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Christians who lost their homes and possessions in the riots collect food and practical aid donated by Barnabas supporters

The homes of more than 100 Christians were attacked. Around half of these were burned down, while others were looted and vandalised.

“We felt hopeless,” recalled Martha, whose home was plundered and burned.

Working closely with our project partners on the ground, Barnabas funded emergency aid for 172 families (around 1,032 individuals) worst affected by the violence.

We provided each family with a package of food staples, including wheat flour, rice, pulses, cooking oil and tea, as well as a hygiene kit made up of soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, towels, washing powder, women’s sanitary pads and two plastic buckets and two mugs.

“Barnabas stood side by side with us”

We also replaced kitchen items lost in the destruction. Families received a set of three pans plus one for making the Pakistani flatbread roti, plates, bowls, cups, cutlery, kitchen knives, a jug with six plastic beakers and a plastic bucket with a lid for flour storage.

In phase two of the aid package, we will be providing each of the 172 families a second food package, clothing and winter bedding.

Martha thanked Barnabas for its support. “We highly appreciate that the relief team of Barnabas Aid stood side by side with us in our hard times and gave us hope and feelings that our big global family in Christ always cares for us.”

The rioting broke out after torn pages of the Quran were found in the street.

Sunday school teacher Mrs Shazia

“I have never been exposed to such an extreme fear and mass life-threatening situation,” recalled Sunday school teacher Mrs Shazia.

The widowed mother-of-three added, “We had to run away to the fields to save our lives. Nobody was willing to provide us shelter.

“All the teachings of Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospels about the troubles of the Church in the last days flashed through my mind repeatedly.”

Returning to her community, Mrs Shazia found her home in ruins. All her books and materials she used to teach Sunday school were destroyed.

The mob – whom she describes as acting with savagery – took everything of value, including items belonging to her newly married son. “Nothing was spared,” she said.

Mrs Shazia was deeply touched by these gifts funded by the donations of Barnabas supporters.

“It’s not merely relief supplies,” she told us. “For me it is sharing of love which strengthened me and made me realise that God cares for us and provides for all our needs beyond our expectations.”

Pray for healing for Christians in Jaranwala that they will recover from the trauma of their ordeal. Ask that the Muslim and Christian communities will live side by side in peace.

This article originally appeared on Barnabas Aid/News