ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (BP)–The earthquake hit without warning the morning of Oct. 8, 2005. Villages were demolished, people were without food, 73,000 were killed and 3 million were left homeless.
The Pakistanis were challenged physically and emotionally but, above all, spiritually. For years, most Pakistani people had oppressed Christians; however, for many, attitudes began changing that day.
Louis Claman*, a Southern Baptist representative, had been serving in Pakistan before Sept. 11, 2001.
“[After Sept. 11], it was an oppression that was so real and so intense that you felt it,” he said. “Everything seemed closed, everything seemed hard and cold, the people were distant. It wasn’t just because we were foreigners; it was also because we were Christians. In their mind there is no difference.”
Everything changed when the 7.6 earthquake hit Pakistan a little over a year ago.
Claman immediately went to Pakistan to aid people in whatever way he could. When he arrived, he found nothing but rubble and devastation; but with a closer look, he realized there was a major change among the people. They were no longer hard and cold. A brokenness and repentance had swept over them.
“Pakistan shook, and I believe it became a new country,” he said.
Claman recalls how person after person came up to him, took his hands and exclaimed it was because of their sin that this terrible earthquake happened. Despite the terrible devastation from the earthquake, Claman praised God for the Pakistanis’ change of heart.
“The Lord is faithful,” he said. “We saw the first fruits of God’s Kingdom among our people group.”
Because of the new openness of the people, believers are sharing words of healing from God’s Word. Pakistanis are responding to the Gospel and spreading what they have heard to others.
“It’s just beyond words,” Claman said. “I see the work of the Lord there. It’s new and it’s fresh.”
It is because of an earthquake that many lost loved ones and homes. But it is also because of an earthquake that many will now spend eternity in heaven.
“This is the Lord’s time for Pakistan,” Claman said.
Since the earthquake, Southern Baptists have faithfully given more than $1.4 million for Pakistan relief efforts. Livestock, shelters and winter coats also have been distributed among the Pakistanis.
*Name changed for security reasons. To learn more about Pakistan or how to get involved, visit go2southasia.org.