It was 2015 when Naomi’s brother-in-law Peter, a local pastor, organized a prayer convention for other Christians in his community. On a poster advertising the event, Pastor Peter wrote prophetic words God had revealed to him and his family. However, the phrase “prophetic words” didn’t sit well with local Islamic radicals. They saw the poster as an attack on their faith. “There are no other prophets after Muhammed,” they accused. Soon, a frenzied mob formed.
Pastor Peter was at home with Naomi and her children, keeping an eye on them while Naomi’s husband was away working, when the agitated mob arrived outside their front door. The angered mob chanted, “Behead the blasphemers!” Naomi called her cousin for help. He arrived with an ambulance and evacuated the family. But this was just the beginning of persecution to come.
Naomi’s husband worked in another city running a successful general store. It didn’t take long for word to spread that he was Pastor Peter’s brother. Local competitors seized the opportunity to harass Naomi’s husband. These competitors told the locals to stay away from the “Christian store.” They even went so far as to print brochures condemning Naomi’s husband for being a believer and being related to “the blasphemer.”
Soon after, Pastor Peter was arrested on charges of blasphemy. Naomi’s husband arrived at court to seek bail for his brother, when he, too, was accused of blasphemy. Both men were jailed. Peter was sentenced to six years in prison and Naomi’s husband was sentenced to 10 months.
Naomi’s world had been turned upside down. Her and her children had even lost their home and had no place to live. They tried to seek out shelter from relatives, but they were turned away, relatives afraid an angry mob would come after them next. The family was neglected by locals and became the victims of hate speech.
In remembering that time, Naomi says, “Along with Pastor Peter’s wife, we stayed at various shelter houses, constantly under the risk of attack. That period severely impacted the mental health of my family, especially the children.”
It was during that time of mourning and loss that Naomi guided her family into God’s Word. She says, “My children and I would spend hours a day in prayer. God led us to Psalm 126:5: ‘Those who sow with tears with reap with songs of joy.’”
After ten months, Naomi’s husband was released. His business had been destroyed and they were outcasted by neighbors. The threats continued: “The law spared you, but we won’t let blasphemers survive.” Further fearing for their lives, Naomi and her family relocated to Sri Lanka.
After completing his six years in prison, Pastor Peter was released. He has chosen to remain in Pakistan and minister to the people there—people he loves with his whole heart.
Naomi’s family lost so much. But how inspiring that they remained faithful and found comfort in God’s Word. Even living in a foreign country, they believe their tears will turn to joy.
Join us now in prayer for Naomi and her family, as well as Pastor Peter.
Father God, You have a plan. These two men being jailed was of no surprise to You. We thank You that You took care of Naomi and the children during such a hard time. We’re grateful for Your provision. We ask that You continue to provide for Naomi and her family in Sri Lanka. Protect them and help them to put down roots.
And we pray for Pastor Peter. We’re sure he remains a target of extremists. Please protect him and his ministry. May he preach boldly and share Your love with others. May he bring many to You. Amen.
*Representative names and photo used to preserve security.
About the authors
James Jacob and Tim Dustin write for Global Christian Relief where they get to share stories of persecution out of Pakistan and the rest of the world. Get the latest blogs and prayer requests at GlobalChristianRelief.org