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07 November 2014

Call to pray as Christian death toll in South Asia reaches record high

Call to pray as Christian death toll in South Asia reaches record high

An average of two to three Christian girls are being kidnapped daily, raped and forced into Islamic marriages in Pakistan, where the largest number of Christians died for their faith last year –more than any other year in recent memory.

As a result of a "systematic move" against Christians in these countries, South Asian Christians in the UK are calling for a special prayer meeting at Pollokshields Church of Scotland in Glasgow on Sunday, 23 November.

Glasgow is home to almost half of Scotland's 'Scottish Asians' and a large proportion are of Pakistani origin.

Wilson Chowdhry of the British Pakistan Christian Association, who will address the prayer meeting, said Christians in Pakistan face oppression daily.

Mr Chowdry said: "We all have friends and family in South Asia who are living in fear of persecution. Not only are young Christian girls being kidnapped and forced into marriage but we are getting reports that Hindu girls are also being kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam.

"Some Imams are reportedly preaching from the pulpits that forced marriage is legitimised by the Qu'ran," said Chowdhry whose wife, Juliette, lost 13 members of her family in the twin bombing in Peshwar last year.

"Children have to travel to school and church on buses with armed security escorts while police and army are guarding churches," he added.

Manoj Raithatha, co-ordinator of the South Asian Forum of the Evangelical Alliance, says prayer is very powerful to move God to act. He is urging leaders of the Scottish Asian church to join the prayer meeting.

"I appreciate that there are many burning issues facing the Church in the UK today, however persecution and the brutal murders of Christians because of their faith must not be side-lined. It is a very big issue that needs to be placed very high, if not at the top of, the Church's agenda and that is why we and the Scottish Asian Christian Fellowship are holding this prayer meeting," said Raithatha.

Fred Drummond, national director of Evangelical Alliance Scotland said: "This is a great opportunity for the Church in Scotland to take our eyes off ourselves and think of our brothers and sisters who are suffering because of their love of Jesus.

"We must spiritually stand shoulder to shoulder with parts of the body of Christ in their time of suffering and pray that our Lord may bring strength and peace to those facing hatred, abuse and torture for the sake of the gospel.

"The Church of Jesus in Scotland must also speak out to those in power with one voice for those who scream out in the darkness."