On Sunday 17th December, two Islamist terrorists attacked a morning service in Quetta, Pakistan. This same Sunday, a church met in Sydney and didn't even know.
A Sunday in Pakistan
The cat from the street was purring outside my window. I checked the time, it was 6.30 am. He needs some food, so I woke up and gathered a few left overs from the last night's meeting.
It was a serious one. The elders of the church had met together in my father's house to discuss if they should risk meeting the following day for our weekly service. I had eavesdropped on their conversation through the cracked door. The outcome was to go to the church building the next morning.
After feeding the cat I went to my mother, who had been muttering prayers since the crack of dawn, to see how she was feeling. She told me to hurry my brothers up in getting ready. We hurried out the door shortly after.
The church was far from our house, yet we still parked our car two blocks away from it and walked discreetly to the building. The building was a rundown warehouse that had been abandoned. We entered in and saw a group of small believers, sitting on the ground, huddled close together in the furthest corner of the room.
We ran to meet them and embraced them in tears. We were worried. We didn't know what was going to happen that day.
Our guitarist started to play a soft melody to one of my favourite hymns and my spirit began to lift as I sung the words to God. We were quiet in our singing in case we became too loud that the outside world would hear us. I looked around, some were smiling with closed eyes and others were looking up in desperation.
It was this special moment that was soon interrupted by a sudden yell from outside, “The Christians are inside! Get them!”
My heart dropped… or stopped, I couldn't tell. My father grabbed me from behind and rushed me to the corner closet where other fathers were stuffing their children into too.
Our fears had been confirmed and our prayers felt forsaken. The night prior I had chosen to peek through a crack to listen to a faith filled conversation, now I was to peek through a crack into a faith filled massacre.
A Sunday in Australia
The sun shone through the windows and my alarm beeped to wake me up. It was 7.30am. I snoozed my alarm for a bit. There wasn't any hurry to wake up. It was Sunday, I wasn't “on” anything at church, I could sleep in.
By 8, I thought I should make myself some breakfast. I put some worship music on loud and ate my breakfast in peace. After we were all ready for our church gathering, we left for the building. We drove in little traffic on a safe road and arrived to a spacious car park.
When we arrived at the building, two happy and smiling greeters met us with a warming hello. We were welcomed in by music as well as we walked down the foyer into the auditorium. The foyer had chairs and tables for believed to gather and pray and eat scrumptious morning teas day in a and day out.
We walked into the auditorium where we were kindly directed to our seats. The air was cooler in this room as the air conditioner was on full blast. We made our way to our seats, passing many worshippers singing loudly and raising their hands freely.
Our seats were cushioned, comfy, and easy to relax in. The music was loud, words to songs on multiple screens and the preacher used a mic to preach his sermon. At the end of the service, people were asked to if they would turn to Christ and if they needed prayer to speak to a church leader afterwards.
The benediction was read, and we moved back to the foyer to eat morning tea. In all of this, not one moment of fear or pain or discomfort. All of this, in peace and comfort.
What if it was my church?
Often, during a church service I'll be sitting in my seat or singing a song and the Lord will cause me to remember those who are being persecuted for their faith. Everything around me feels suddenly strange, as if something were missing or something were wrong. I begin to question, why is it that I sit here in the aircon whilst others watch their fathers die by the hand of Islamist terrorists?
It feels unjust. I feel guilty for my privilege, comfort and freedom. I'm not sure what to do or how to help.
And I'm saddened by the fact that my faith is so dependent on what is around me. That my faith is so weak I'm not sure I'd be able to face Islamist terrorists if they came into my church building asking me to renounce my faith. It’s clear, I need a faith like a Pakistani Christian.
I’ll continue to wrestle with doubt, quilt and confusion. In the meantime, I need greater faith and greater remembrance, so I can grieve with my family in persecuted nation's.
As it says, Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. (Hebrews, chapter thirteen, verse three)
Renee Jenner resides in Sydney, Australia and is currently in her third year of studying Social Work. She is the first born of home-base missionary parents whose ministry has made a huge impression on her heart. She always writes from the soul to the soul, desiring to encourage readers to enjoy God, relax in His goodness and spread His love to the utmost parts of the earth. She loves a good cuppa with a deep, thoughtful conversation. You can find her other writings at renee.jenner.wordpress.com