He captured that moment of grief as her tears flowed freely over the body of her son in just one picture. Each attack causes a ripple of pain, but what we see so often are these amazing stories of sacrifice, courage, and love. Around that time, two young men had volunteered to guard a different church. When they saw the suicide bomber coming, and they decided to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Watch the video above to hear their incredible story.
Jeff King: So often when we get reports of persecution or you read reports of persecution out in the news, it just starts with the bare facts and the who, the what, the where, standard journalism stuff. That’s a shame because it misses the immense tragedy and the immense pain that comes from these attacks, or these murders. Think about it, each long imprisonment, each murder, there is a massive ring of grief and pain that radiates out in the community and among the loved ones.
Back in 2015 in Pakistan, there was a series of church bombings and any number of them had been attacked. If you would read the attacks, you’d be like, “Oh, here’s how many were killed and here’s how many were wounded. The government’s still not stepping up and protecting the Christians.” In one of these attacks, this was in March, this was St. John’s Church in Youhanabad. It just so happens that one of our staffers was very close nearby, he hears a massive explosion and he runs to the church. He has his camera with him and he starts taking pictures.
As he comes upon the scene with a mother and her living son, and she is cradling her dying son who’s in her lap. You see his face, his lower extremities are gone and the life from his face is fading quickly. The mother’s face is just contorted with shock and grief and she’s looking up and crying to heaven. The tears are flowing down. Her living son next to her the same, but he’s looking left. Oh my gosh, brutal. It’s like I said, each attack, that was just one death and you see that massive ripple flowing out.
And yet that’s not even the end of the story because there’s also what we see so often are these amazing stories of courage and sacrifice and love. And we find that in this story too, because it turns out that in this series of bombings, the churches knew they were in great danger and yet believers were still getting together and meeting. In St. John’s Church, two young men had volunteered to guard the church and they would wait at the gate and try to keep out any suicide bombers. In that church attack, they saw the suicide bomber coming, and one of them slammed the iron gate shut and the other one jumped outside and grabbed the suicide bomber and pinned his arms. But the suicide bomber detonated his bomb. Killed himself, he killed those two men. He killed 17 people in the church and wounded 70 or 80.
But if he had gotten inside, the death toll would have been in the hundreds, massive, massive death toll. The real martyrs are the two young men and that’s Akash and Sikunder. We spoke with Akash’s mother after the attack and she expressed a couple of things to us. One of them was of course, the great grief she had at missing him, he was gone. But here was the other, this was the major note of the conversation. It was just immense pride because he had sacrificed himself. He was a true martyr. He had sacrificed himself and his act of sacrifice had saved hundreds of people. And she knew that he was standing in heaven at the Lord’s throne and wearing the crown of a martyr.
In Revelation six, we see this scene played out, you see it. All the martyrs are standing before God and they’re crying out to God, they’re crying out for justice. They’re saying, “How long, oh, Lord? What’s it going to take?” The Lord comforts them and he says, “It’s going to be just a bit longer, hold on.” He gives them a white robe, and he gives them a crown and he comforts them. I think if that was the end of the story, that might be enough because again, he does comfort them and he’s saying justice will be served, but it’s not the end of the story.
See, because the end of the story is this. Is that there is a hidden story behind everything you see, behind everything you’re living. For thousands of years, the hidden story has a hero and that hero is going to stand up and he’s going to stand up at the end. He’s going to save the day and he’s going to defeat evil and he’s going to [inaudible 00:04:12] justice for all the evil in the world. He’s going to swallow up death. Then there’s going to be one final thing. And the martyr is going to hear this and you’re going to hear this. Well done, my good and faithful servant. Come and share your master’s happiness.