News Articles

Pakistani congregation will ‘keep going,’ minister predicts

WACO, Texas (BP)–Danny Mulkey worshiped for more than two months at the Protestant International Church in Islamabad, Pakistan, while waiting for Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer to be set free in neighboring Afghanistan.

“Some of those folks I spent quite a bit of time with,” Mulkey said of the interdenominational congregation after a terrorist grenade attack killed five churchgoers, including two Americans, and injured more than 40 others March 17.

Mulkey was dispatched to Pakistan last September by Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas, where he is associate pastor and from which Curry and Mercer ventured out to minister among the Afghan people.

Curry’s mother, Nancy Cassell of Franklin, Tenn., also worshiped each week at the Protestant International Church while awaiting any word of her daughter’s release by the Taliban and later awaiting word of her daughter’s safety amid the U.S. military campaign against the Taliban.

Among the rush of concerns Mulkey felt after hearing of the attack was the key Pakistani lay leader of the church, who suffered several leg injuries and may face amputations.

The man is “a very strong believer … a very compassionate person … genuinely gracious,” who holds the academic credentials of a Ph.D. in chemistry and teaches at a local university, Mulkey said.

Mulkey also recounted close ties with a couple of Pakistani families, having “ate in their homes, played with their kids.”

Protestant International Church is a unique blend of Pakistani believers, diplomats from various countries and their families, United Nations staff, Christian workers and visitors in Pakistan for a season, Mulkey said.

“Pray for the folks there. They’re precious people … very pure-hearted,” he said.

After a time of grief and regrouping, he predicted, “I know that they’ll keep going.”

The number of worshipers ranged from 35 to 60 at the church, and Mulkey often preached on Sundays and led communion from early last September until nearly Thanksgiving, because the previous pastor along with many members who were in diplomatic or religious work had left the country amid rising international tensions after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.

The church owns its own building and has a strong ministry to the poor, Mulkey said, reflecting that the last Sunday he preached there was an international day of prayer for the persecuted church.

Mulkey and Cassell were on hand in Pakistan to greet Curry and Mercer after they and six other western aid workers were rescued by U.S. forces after being jailed for more than 100 days by the Taliban for witnessing to Afghans of their Christian faith.