By BosNewsLife Asia Service
PESHAWAR/GRANGEMOUTH (BosNewsLife)– A Church of Scotland pastor who lost his mother and other close relatives in a suicide attack on a church in Pakistan has said he forgives their killers.
Reverend Aftab Gohar’s 79-year-old mother, nephew, niece, two uncles and other friends and relatives were among the up to 171 people who were killed in the September 22 blasts at Peshawar’s All Saints Church.
On Sunday, October 20, Gohar resumed his duties at Abbotsgrange Church, in the Scottish town of Grangemouth, after making an emotional statement about the militants linked to one of the deadliest attacks against Pakistan’s minority Christians.
“It is wrong what these people did but I forgive them,” he said. “Forgiving is what we learn from the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why I forgive,” the pastor added.
He added that, “We pray that they may one day develop the wisdom to understand that it is not right to kill children and other innocent people.”
Gohar recalled that there were “were 125 children in Sunday school” that fateful day. “My sister was teaching there.“
Two Islamist militant groups with links to the militant Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attacks in the violence-plagued city of Peshawar, saying it was in response to American drone strikes against suspected terrorists.
However Gohar stressed in a statement, monitored by BosNewsLife, that it was crucial to realize that not all Muslims hate Christians. “The majority of Muslims helped, taking victims to hospital or helping to prepare graves or prepare food for the injured as well as for the friends and relatives caring for them.”
Gohar said he still feared for friends and relatives in the area, adding that there was an urgent need for more medical help for many of those who were seriously injured.
His 23-year-old niece Farah Javed is paralysed from the waist down and needs treatment not available to her in a public hospital, he said.
The Gohar family has already had to find “considerable sums” to pay for medical treatment for relatives in the impoverished Asian nation, he explained.
Andrew McLellan, convener of the Church of Scotland World Mission Council, stressed it was “very moving to hear the words of the Reverend Aftab Gohar.”
He said, “These heartless killings happened in Pakistan, but forgiveness makes the whole world better. The Church of Scotland is richer for having a minister of the stature of Aftab among us.”
“He and his family are entitled to count on the love and prayers of us all.”
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since 2004).
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