History of Church of Martyrs.
All Saints Church was built by Worthington Jukes in 1883. This Church is famous for its architectural uniqueness which resembles the structure of any mosque that makes it unique in the Church History. Muslims of Peshawar were against building of any Church by the British. Where ever they tried to construct a Church, the local Muslims always demolished the Church structures as and when they were put up. Many Christians lost their lives while building of this Church was going on; therefore this Church is also known as THE CHURCH OF MARTYRS.
Suicide bombs attack.
On 22nd of September 2013, around 500 persons gathered for Divine Sunday Service including another 64 children who were present in the Sunday School Center in the Church compound. Two suicide bombers entered in the compound and exploded themselves while the worshipers were coming out at the end of the Service at All Saints Church, Kohati Gate in Peshawar.
This city is the Provincial head and a main town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province which has borne the brunt of a bloody Islamist insurgency in recent years.
The beautiful All Saints Church built of white stones is very close to the frontier tribal areas where Islamist militants have their strongholds labeled as safe heavens. On the day, hundreds of parishioners, most of them being women and Children were streaming out of the building when both suicide attackers blew themselves in the midst of the crowd. Within no time, the joy and happiness turned into screams and pains. The blood and pieces of human flesh were scattered all over the place, those who survived were crying and searching for their loved ones. It was the major attacks on a Church in the history of Pakistan’s extremism against Christians.
According to our friend Mr. Khalid Shahzed, a renowned Human Rights activists, “ After the blast the ambulances of the local NGO’s rushed to the church and started taking the injured to hospital. No doctor was present in the Government hospital except paramedical staff. Due to this situation many persons who could be saved by medical assistance, died unattended at the mercy of para medical staff, lack emergency equipment, live saving drugs and competent medical staff to help the injured. Some para medical staff was reluctant to touch the injured, showing their prejudice even to dead bodies adding to the death toll.. Only the Christian Staff nurses were the ones who ought to be free on a Sunday for Church Services were a blessing in disguise because of their presence in the hospital and helped the injured.”
A list of 123 dead and about 169 injured in the deadly blast consists mostly on women and Children. This tragic incident took toll of many person who were assets to our community e.g doctors, teachers, principals, students, government servants etc etc .
The Role of Christian NGO’s.
Most of the Christian and non-Christian NGO’s again played shameful role as on the next day of the incident many Christian NGOs started visiting the Church and victims. Just doing photo sessions, making videos, writing reports for their websites and left with promises to help the victims. Perhaps they were collecting material in order to place worldwide requests to generate donations for their NGO’s.
A part from us [WVIP], there is only one NGO which is helping people in medical treatment along with a political person of the ruling party. There is no one the ground, all other are limited to lip service.
The Role of the Church.
This was a very hurting and disturbing moment for us when we found that the Peshawar Diocese which is one of the richest Diocese in the Church of Pakistan was not willing to help their own inflicted Church members. One of the Church members stated that, “ When this blast took place the Presbyter Incharge Rev. Ijaz Gill, who was present in Church left the compound and went to his adjoining home while the people were dying, were hurt and in pain. Rev. Ijaz Gill did not come forward until his Bishop Humphrey Peter reached back to Peshawar from Bannu.
The Local Church members also stated that Bishop and their priest were busy only in the funerals of their loved ones whereas rest of the funerals were conducted by Roman Catholic and Salvation Army Pastors without considering that the dead belonged to the Church of Pakistan.
It would be sad to learn that 20 years ago this Diocese had spent millions of dollars on thousands of Afghanis in the Afghan Russian War and saved the lives of thousands of people.
But when it came to their own people, the Church is silent and sitting back. Even the Mission Hospital of the Diocese failed to provide proper medical facilitation to the people of its own Diocese. Due to this reason, we have moved a number of the victims from Mission Hospital to RMI Hospital out of whom Kashmala Munawar and Shumaila are serious victims.
According to the reliable resources there are about 3 to 4 million Pak rupees in the Church Account, as well as Millions of Rupees in the Diocesan account sitting idol. Perhaps this money is reserved for their own luxurious life style but it could have saved dozens of lives if invested. This attitude of cruelty and negligence has been a reason of increased number of the deaths. According to our team 20 people could have been saved if they were provided with timely medical treatment. Let us share one example of their cruelty.
“On the night of 3rd October 2013 we were coming back from Peshawar when we received one call through our Contact in Karachi and that was of Robin Morris, a young man working for the Diocese of Peshawar as an Accountant. It was mid night. He requested us to help him with money so he could move himself to a good hospital; he was in desperate need of an operation. He had ball bearings (which were used in Church blast) in his both legs. We promised him that we would be back soon. We told him to get admit in any hospital we will pay the bills, but on 4th October 2013 during operation he died.”
Robin Morris was the employee of Diocese of Peshawar and he was the father of Two minor kids. This was the role of our church, they could save the life of their staff but they didn’t.
What makes us different from others?
After the incident our team went there and within days we were providing necessary medical assistance to the serious patients. So far we are providing medical assistance to 11 persons in the top hospitals of Peshawar like RMI hospital, CMH and in North West Hospital. Where we are paying hundreds of thousands of Rupees each day for the better treatment of our brothers and sisters. We [WVIP] are also helping the other victims who are unable to buy medicines and daily hospital checkups.
We are also working on the orphan children and those families which have lost their bread earners.
Please keep our team in your prayers which is working on the ground of Peshawar.