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Former PIC pastor says church was targeted by Islamic militants

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The former pastor of the evangelical Christian church said he believes the congregation was targeted for attack by Islamic militants.

“I do believe evangelical Christians were targeted,” said Jim Killgore, former pastor of Protestant International Church. Five worshipers were killed and more than 45 injured when a terrorist hurled two grenades into the sanctuary on March 17.

Killgore, president and chief executive officer of Advancing Churches in Missions Commitment, served as pastor of PIC for five years. He previously served as missions pastor at the First Baptist Church, Atlanta, from 1981-85.

“It’s important to note the distinction between fundamentalists and Muslims,” he said. “The vast majority of Muslims will look at what happened and decry it. However, Christians, by Pakistan’s constitution, do not have the same rights as Muslims. It’s an Islamic republic and Muslims win.”

In the hours following the blast, Killgore said he received numerous emails and telephone messages from church members who witnessed the attack.

“That morning, several church members said they noticed that security at the church was strangely lax,” Killgore told Baptist Press. “After the events of Sept. 11, the security around PIC had been beefed up.”

The church is located next to the Chinese embassy and a local police station.

Killgore, 45, said church members are still “very much in shock.”

“People are dealing with post-traumatic stress,” he said. “One … couple told me they are afraid to sleep. They still smell the smoke, hear the explosion and see the blood.”

Killgore learned of the attack as he was preparing to attend church with his wife, Grace, and their daughter, Kristen.

“It riveted our attention,” Killgore said. “We saw the pictures and knew the faces of the people coming out of the church. We dropped to our knees to pray.”

PIC has an active role in the community, reaching out to refugees and providing clothing and feeding ministries.

“The purpose of the church was to reach people,” he said. “There were people in church that day who were non believers and a number of the injured were non believers.”

PIC’s purpose statement says, “We are a loving fellowship from many cultures who worship God, build each other, and share Jesus Christ with the world.”

Killgore said he believes the church will continue that mission.

“They were singing the song, ‘This is Holy Ground’ when the attack happened,” he said. “I believe they will continue to be a people of faith and will rebuild.”

Church elders, Killgore said, will meet later this week to determine a new location for their fellowship.

    About the Author

  • Todd Starnes