An American ministry organization has created what amounts to a special operations team to work with a group in Pakistan to rescue Pakistani Christians who are unjustly charged under that longtime ally’s draconian blasphemy law.
The group Rescue Christians is the brainchild of former PLO terrorist-turned-Christian activist Walid Shoebat.
Shoebat says the organization established what is called the Raoul Wallenberg Project, named after the man who rescued Hungarian Jews from the Nazis during World War II.
The website for the organization says the project is being undertaken because of the extreme need among the world’s Christians.
“Seventy-five percent of religious persecution in the world is against Christians as per a report by Church in Need, a Christian organization based in the UK,” supporters explained.
“They examined 33 countries, citing that most of that persecution today is taking place in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
“The proportion of countries with a worsening track record of anti-Christian violence and intimidation would be higher were it not for the fact that in many cases the situation could scarcely have been worse in the first place,” the group says.
Pakistan is the project’s main focus for now.
“The blasphemy laws … are used by Islamic extremists to make up charges against innocent Christians, in order to steal their property and stir up violence against the Christian population,” supporters said.
“On March 4 the Christian Minister of Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti was gunned down by Islamic extremists, causing tremendous fear within the Christian community. Even in the short time since his murder, the violence against Christians has increased dramatically,” they said.
“The Raoul Wallenberg Project is working with people on the ground who are well connected in the Christian community. They have reached out to us for our support to help alleviate their suffering, and in certain situations, help with their escape.”
The security and safety of the persons involved are necessary concerns.
“For their protection we cannot expose their names publicly. In the future, large donors who are concerned about the transparency of funding, we can provide the names and details privately,” the website said.
Rescue Christians Executive Director Keith Davies says his group is undertaking the project because hands-on assistance is necessary.
“We’re raising money in the states to help pay for safe houses wherever these things are happening, in Islamabad, Karachi, and other places. We actually go there and get people who are in emergency situations and make the contacts,” Davies said.
To this end, Davies says the project has been successful.
“We saved over 100 people last year,” Davies said.
The Pakistani unit of Rescue Christians has a staff of 38 people. The leader of the group in Pakistan, who asked that his name be withheld for security reasons, says his group shelters those who have been victimized by the blasphemy law.
” We are working to help those who suffer from persecution and discrimination. And it’s mostly because of Pakistan’s blasphemy law,” the Pakistani project leader said.
“We go and help the Christians if they are in trouble. We rescue them by filing cases. We rescue them and we relocate them to a safe place,” he said. “First we try to get them out of court with a lawyer. Then with the family we take them from their area to some safe place where they can be safe.”
Sometimes it’s necessary to try to get the one charged with blasphemy and the family members out of the country. However, the project leader says that’s been difficult.
“We have talked to the U. S. government and the Italian government to try to get visas for these people to get them out of the country so they can start a new life,” he said. “We talked to the American and the Italian ambassadors and neither country has helped. The American embassy has been no help at all.”
He reported, “There were two stories, a 16-year-old boy and a 22-year-old young man. The 16-year-old boy was had not even been arrested but he had to go into hiding because he had been accused of blasphemy. The 22-year-old young man was killed and could not be rescued. We contacted over 500 officials for these two and we got no help.”
He said Americans could contact their government to push for help for those who are endangered.
International Christian Concern President Jeff King applauds Rescue Christians’ work saying, “The more help the better.”
King says ICC assists Christians in the restricted and hostile areas, but tries not to draw attention to the projects. One such project he says was helping a family where the father has been in jail for seven years on a blasphemy charge.
“He and has wife have several children and they were living in a squalor,” King said. He said some of the assistance was aimed at helping the family with their daily needs.
“We set her up in a business, helping her start a Pakistani version of a convenience store. We also put her kids in school, which is something she couldn’t do,” King said.
King adds that political advocacy is also a part of ICC’s work.
“We were also up on Capitol Hill recently advocating for that man and his family. We visited 28 offices and now congressmen and senators are contacting the Pakistani government asking for answers. They’re pressing the Pakistani government to explain why that man has been in prison for so long,” King said.
“One of those officials has set up a conference call to the Pakistani embassy to ask them what they’re doing about the man in jail,” King said.
Then there are the young women, targets of abuse in Pakistan.
“Christian girls in Pakistan are especially vulnerable to attacks. They’re abused and often raped. We just set them up with sewing machines to help them learn a trade so they can provide for themselves,” King said.
Voice of the Martyrs Media Relations Director Todd Nettleton says his organization is on the ground in some of the toughest countries around the world.
“This year we had over 900 projects in hostile and restricted nations. We assist and stand by persecuted Christians,” Nettleton said.
“We also provide food, shelter and safe houses for people who have been attacked and are living in emergency situations,” Nettleton said. “We stand by those Christians who choose to stay in their dangerous situation because they believe that’s where they can best represent Christ.”
Davies says Rescue Christians’ goal is to expand operations into other countries such as Egypt, possibly the Sudan, Syria, and any other country that is heavily engaged in Christian persecution.
“We want to get in there on the ground in those countries as well and we’ll be there as soon as we find the right people to serve in that capacity,” Davies said.