#RememberAllSaints: Impacting a Persecuted Community
By William Stark
Before September 22, 2013, when two suicide bomber attacked All Saints Church, Peshawar was just another city in Pakistan for me. I knew there was a Christian community there, but my focus at International Christian Concern (ICC) in Pakistan had been in the eastern province of Punjab. When I got the call that informed me that the church had been bombed, I wasn’t yet able to imagine the impact that I would have on this community through my work at ICC.
In the days following the bombing, I sent an ICC team, like many other Christian NGOs, to Peshawar to assess the needs of those affected. According to my team, over 100 Christians were killed and another 150 were in need of immediate medical attention. Instead of focusing on the immediate needs of the community, which were well covered by other NGOs, I decided ICC should focus on an issue that often goes unaddressed following instances of mass violence. The long-term education of children whose parents were either killed or permanently handicapped in the bombing.
ICC started by supporting 30 Christian children’s education in Christian schools in Peshawar. This included paying for tuition, buying uniforms and books, covering tutoring costs, and even helping out with the pick-up and drop-off of many of the children. ICC has been supporting these children for two years now and it has been a privilege to watch these children grow.
This ongoing project has also allowed me to remain in contact with many of the Christian families in Peshawar. I have even been fortunate enough to travel to Peshawar, something that other NGO workers told me was unwise, and meet many of them in person. Today, Peshawar and its Christian community has a special place in my heart.
As the Christian community of Peshawar gathers to remember those lost in the All Saints Church bombing, ICC will be releasing photos and videos of the work we have done and continue to do to help impact this Christian community. It has truly been an amazing opportunity for me to work with this community here at ICC.