WMC: April 2018
World Church News
Partner Churches and organisations Seeking justice in Pakistan
Being a Christian in Pakistan often means having to face and overcome many challenges daily. Today, religious minorities struggle for survival in Pakistan in the face of mob and suicide bomb attacks on their places of worship and residential areas. Their daughters are at risk of abduction and being forcibly converted to Islam and forced into marriage.
Just a week before Christmas last year, terrorists attacked Bethel Memorial Church in Quetta, killing nine people and wounding more than 50 others. In his message to the Christian community, the Rt Revd Humphrey S Peter, Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, strongly condemned the attack on the church and advised Pakistani Christians to stay united and strong in faith during this time of crisis.
As well as being vulnerable to terrorist attacks, Christians in Pakistan are also susceptible to accusations under the blasphemy laws, which carry a potential death sentence for anyone who insults Islam. The law is often abused, used to discriminate against minorities or to settle personal disputes. Our partner organisation the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), was established in 1992 to address the issues faced by disadvantaged and marginalised religious minorities living in Pakistan. CLAAS's work is facilitated thanks to an annual grant of £19,000 from the World Mission Fund.
Over the past five years, CLAAS has been handling the case of Zafar Bhatti, who was falsely accused of blasphemy in 2012. During his trial, the prosecution failed to prove the allegations that had been made against him. On 24 April 2017, after hearing the lengthy arguments from the CLAAS lawyer, the court decided that there was no direct evidence against Zafar — but then sentenced him to life imprisonment. If there is no evidence against him, then why the life sentence? CLAAS continues to fight Zafar's case.
Reaching out to farmers in Uganda
Uganda was badly affected by drought this past year. The World Mission Fund sent the Methodist Church in Uganda (MCU) an Emergency Grant of £10,000 towards helping drought victims get back on their feet.
Andrew Mulwanyi is a programme officer for MCU. Andrew currently works with 40 farmers who benefited from that grant: 20 in Kamuli District and another 20 in Buyende District. Methodist Churches have been entry points for reaching out to both communities, and some of the farmers who received help are church members.
In Buyende, MCU owns and manages a demonstration farm where local farmers can receive training in crop husbandry, livestock, and composting, pre-harvest and post-harvest management. Andrew oversees training to improve their agricultural practices. He regularly visits the farmers, meets with church and community leaders and liaises with Agriculture extension workers. According to Andrew, this initiative has had a positive effect on the Methodist churches in terms of building relationships with the community.
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