Pakistan (MNN) — Two things are true of the Pakistani Church. First, locals are more open than ever to the Gospel message. Second, there are fewer and fewer foreign missionaries there to answer the call for answers.
According to Jonathan, a Christian worker focused in Pakistan, local interest in the Gospel partly stems from a growing disenchantment with Islam.
“A lot of this is because of some of the horrific things that have been done in the name of Islam by people claiming to be good Muslims,” he explains. “Al Qaeda and the Taliban and ISIS are sort of chief among them. And I think there’s this growing sense among many Muslims that… if this is what Islam is, I want nothing to do with it.”
But now that Pakistanis are more open than they perhaps have ever been, the local Church is underequipped to reach them. “Pakistan is the second largest Muslim country in the world; there are more than 200 million Muslims in Pakistan,” Jonathan says. Among those 200 million Muslims are “at least 12 of the totally unreached and unengaged people groups.”
And there are fewer and fewer foreign missionaries. Ongoing security issues in the region and challenges with visas and other paperwork have caused a large drop in the number of foreign missionaries in Pakistan.
Thanks to their origin in the lowest castes of Hindu society, Pakistani Christians have stayed quiet for generations. They looked to Westerners, who they perceived as better-equipped, well-resourced, and more respected, to spread the Gospel.
Not only that, but leaders who did step up often saw each other as rivals. Because Pakistan’s Church only has access to a certain limited number of resources, Jonathan says many leaders had a mentality that “resources that go to you are resources that did not come to me.” Instead of collaboration, Christians engaged in competition.
Now, Western missionaries are disappearing, and the Pakistani people are looking for answers. Competition and muted humility are no longer options.
“There’s a new movement among younger leaders who really value collaboration and partnership and sharing resources and turn to each other for help rather than turning to foreigners for help,” Jonathan says. “There’s this move across the country of ministries beginning to work together and stepping up to the plate, realizing that ‘God has placed us strategically in the most remote parts of the country.’”
The Church in Pakistan is rolling up its sleeves and digging in to help their neighbors. They may not have personnel from the global Church, but they still need your prayer. Pray for the continued efforts of a young, under-resourced Church as they show other Pakistanis that God does have the answers.
“This is where it’s really important for the Pakistani church stepping up; the cultural differences between them and the unreached people groups are far less than the cultural differences between a Western missionary coming and having to learn a new language. It’s a very exciting time.”