On September 2nd, the Reformed community in Hungary supported two gatherings to bring awareness and affirm its support for the Christian community facing persecution in Pakistan. A gathering hosted by the Érdliget Reformed Parish included powerful testimonies, and another, a prayer group hosted at the community center for the Refugee Ministry, honored the victims of the persecution. Angela Canadey, a project manager in the Hungarian Reformed Church Aid working with refugees in Hungary and across Europe, reported on the two gatherings.
The Reformed Church in Hungary (RCH) maintains an ongoing relationship of support and solidarity with the Presbyterian community in Pakistan, strengthening this partnership in several ways throughout recent years. In 2020, Károli Gáspár University of the RCH founded a scholarship initiative providing study opportunities to young Christian students living in difficult religious minority situations throughout regions such as the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. The program has welcomed students from Pakistan. Additionally, the RCH supported the Presbyterian community in responding to Afghan refugees entering Pakistan, raising money to support the Tehillim Helping Hands program in providing refugees with blankets and food supplies.
The RCH is also connected to the community through the Hungary Helps program, an initiative “seeking to protect communities threatened by religious or other persecution, violence, catastrophes, or the effects of migration,” according to Tristan Azbej, the State Secretary for the Aid of Persecuted Christians. In 2023, the Hungary Helps program supported the Tehillim School of Church Music and Worship (TSCM) with $31,000 in funding to begin the construction of a multi-ministry resource center. The TSCM resource center will house students and guests and will include a small conference hall, a library with digital equipment, a kitchen, and several additional ministry spaces.
Rev. Dr. Eric Sarwar, founding president of the TSCM, recently communicated to partners regarding the latest escalation in the persecution of Christian minorities in Pakistan. Sarwar reports meeting a pastor in Pakistan who reported the details of the chilling reality wherein “more than 21 local churches were desecrated and houses of poor Christian villagers burned by the Muslim mob due to false blasphemy charges. Hundreds of Christian families fled from their homes to save their lives and loved ones.”
The RCH opposes all forms of religious discrimination and remains firm in its commitment to supporting and standing in solidarity with Christian minorities facing religious discrimination. In a Memorandum of Commitment, the RCH, alongside the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon and the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East, affirmed their cooperation and dedication to helping Christian communities to remain and serve God in their homelands.
In the spirit of prayer and to bring awareness, Pastor Zoltán Literáty invited individuals to gather at Érdliget Reformed Parish to experience powerful testimonies of discrimination, persecution, and resilience; around 50 individuals gathered on the evening of September 2nd in response to this invitation. The occasion featured heartfelt testimonies from Yasmen Canadey, a devout Christian who has experienced persecution firsthand in Pakistan and the mother of Angela Canadey, who currently serves as a project manager in the Hungarian Reformed Church Aid (HRCA) working with refugees in Hungary and across Europe.
Yasmen Canadey opened the event by shedding light on the plight of Christians in Pakistan. She emphasized how the origins of this crisis trace back to a small town in Pakistan, Jaranwalla, but has since spread like wildfire across the entire nation. Despite its Christian minority constituting only 1.4 percent of the population, Pakistan is home to approximately three million Christians. These individuals and their homes, belongings, and places of worship are constantly threatened, facing mockery, violence, and even the burning of their churches.
Importantly, Yasmen Canadey drew a compelling parallel between the persecution faced by fellow believers in Pakistan and the unexpected global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Just as the pandemic initially seemed distant and contained within one region before affecting the entire world, so too should Christians in Europe understand that persecution may not remain isolated. Christians must prepare for any challenges that may come their way, remaining vigilant in their faith and unwavering in their commitment to Christ.
The emphasis on networking and connection between churches stood out significantly during this gathering. Yasmen Canadey's presence allowed the HRCA to connect with churches in Érd and other cities like Miskolc, underscoring the importance of building bridges between Christian communities. The event served as a poignant reminder that unity and collaboration among churches are essential for sharing the message of faith and supporting those facing persecution and adversity.
The strength of the Christian faith lies in individual belief and the bonds formed between faith communities. In an increasingly interconnected world, events like the one held on September 2nd provide opportunities for churches to come together, share experiences, and fortify their collective resolve. Networking and connection among churches are not only admirable; they are essential elements enabling them to extend their reach and impact, particularly in helping individuals suffering from persecution and adversity.
As we reflect on this gathering, it is evident that such occasions are about sharing testimonies and reinforcing networks of faith, solidarity, and support. In emphasizing the importance of unity among churches, we honor the spirit of Christianity, which teaches us to love our neighbors, stand together in times of need, and ensure that no one faces persecution or adversity alone.
The evening gathering at the Érdliget Reformed Parish on September 2nd was a powerful testament to the strength of faith, the resilience of persecuted Christians, and the necessity of fostering connections among churches. As we move forward, may we continue to build and strengthen these bonds, ensuring that our collective efforts bring hope, relief, and a brighter future to those who need it most.
In addition to the gathering at Érdliget, the Refugee Ministry of the Hungarian Reformed Church Aid (HRCA) hosted a prayer meeting offering individuals the opportunity to stand together in solidarity and a spirit of prayer. The gathering was dedicated to honoring victims of persecution in Pakistan in their community center.
Saturday morning, September 2nd, hearts united in prayer as we gathered in the office of the Refugee Ministry within the community center. Around 50 individuals, predominantly from the Christian community of Pakistan, came together for a prayer meeting that held deep significance. This gathering was dedicated to remembering those who have recently laid down their lives in the service of the Lord and to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are still enduring severe persecution in Pakistan.
The prayer meeting was led by our faithful Christian brother, Allen Diwan, who hails from Pakistan and has been serving the Lord mightily. In these trying times, Jesus' mission reminds us to reach out to the outcasts and marginalized. He healed the leper who refused to let society's prejudices define his identity. As we come together as a community, we strive to see ourselves through the eyes of Christ, finding the courage to stand firm in our spirits.
Furthermore, it is essential for us as Christians in Europe to draw parallels between the persecution our fellow believers in Pakistan face and the COVID-19 pandemic that initially appeared distant but rapidly affected the entire world. Just as we believed the pandemic would remain isolated in one region, we cannot assume that persecution will not touch our lives.
As we await the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us draw inspiration from the unwavering faith of our fellow Christians in Pakistan. Their resilience reminds us to be vigilant in our faith and stand firm in adversity.
In conclusion, the gatherings at Érdliget and the Refugee Ministry on September 2nd stand as powerful testaments to the unity of the global Christian community. We extend our gratitude to all who joined us in prayer and encourage you to keep our persecuted brothers and sisters in your thoughts and prayers. May the Lord's grace and protection be with them, and may we all find the strength to stand firm in our faith, no matter the challenges that may come our way.