My phone buzzed and I was greeted by a video link with the words: “Due to the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran in Jaranwala, the situation became very tense. Many churches and houses of Christians have been set on fire. Christians are forced to leave their homes.”
Right below it was this image:
Within the next forty-eight hours, I also received covers of this event done by BBC, Pakistan Christian Post, and Christianity Today.
The chat group erupted with concern and prayers. The Pakistani pastor in the group planned swiftly for the nineteen-hour road trip to assess the situation and bring encouragement. He then sent us pictures and a couple of video footage, one of them had a woman who was weakly making some repeated demands until she suddenly passed out.
This is the kind of thing that puts people off religion, because of the violence, havoc, and destruction that occurs.
Just last year, Pakistan had nearly a quarter of its land submerged in floodwaters. There has to be so much to do to uplift all lives. Yet a religious cleric’s word can incite entire groups to engage in such lawless acts, causing horrendous trauma and suffering to whole communities. More than twenty churches were burned and desecrated and entire villages were also targetted so that the residents had to flee for their safety with only the clothes on their backs.
Then this morning, I heard a completely different kind of story, also happening in Pakistan.
The BBC and other news agencies kept a close watch on a cable car that hung dangerously over a ravine when one of its cables snapped. The car carried six children and two adults.
The government’s helicopter managed to lower an army officer who lifted the first two children out of the car. But the chopper’s rotor downwash could cause the car to come unhinged, so better ideas were needed, especially as the sky darkened and strong winds began to whip. The dramatic rescue that took more than sixteen hours was captured on multiple news sites with swift reports from government ministries about its success as the military, locals, and volunteers pulled it off with a zipline and a makeshift chairlift.