General André Cox has again called for Salvationists and friends, globally, to pray for the victims of terror – this time those tragically caught up in the Easter Sunday attack at the Gulshan-e-Iqbal park in Lahore, Pakistan.
With more than 70 people killed in this horrific bombing attack, including scores of women and children, the General has urged all Salvationists to be in prayer for the families of those killed and for the several hundred people injured.
‘We should not become desensitised by the frequency of such tragic attacks,’ said the General, ‘nor should the location of where they take place limit our concern and prayers. People of all cultures and religions – including Muslim people in Pakistan and worldwide – are shocked and horrified by this latest attack. We join with all who pray and work for an end to such terror.’
The Salvation Army operates corps (churches) and social centres across Pakistan, and has its headquarters in Lahore.
The Territorial Commander, Colonel Ivor Telfer, has reported that no Salvationists or employees were injured or killed in the attack. He reported, however, that ‘in view of the close-knit Christian community in Lahore, many of the dead and injured are known to Salvationists and indeed some are relatives. Our officers have been attending funerals and going around their communities offering prayers with the bereaved and those who have been injured but allowed home. As always, our work in Pakistan is implemented without discrimination and at this time our services are available to anyone to assist with counselling and practical help, especially for the orphans through our two children’s homes.’
He emphasised that The Salvation Army in Pakistan is standing in solidarity with fellow Christian churches, particularly given the claim by a Taliban-linked group that the attack was specifically targeting Christians. ‘We have been in touch with other church leaders and yesterday there was a meeting of the Inter-Faith Harmony group where prayers were said for the Christians and Muslims impacted by this tragedy.’
Senior church leaders had met with government officials prior to Sunday’s attack, and received assurances that the Constitution of Pakistan – which states that ‘adequate provision shall be made for the minorities freely to profess and practise their religions’ – would be upheld.
‘While the Christian community is fearful,’ says Colonel Telfer, ‘they have faith in the risen Christ and in his strength will seek to be courageous in the face of this tragic event.’
He concludes: ‘Three days of mourning commenced on Monday and many businesses are closed as a mark of respect. We have also received many messages of condolence from our Muslim friends.’