Suicide Bomber Targets Christian Women & Children in Easter Sunday Massacre

While many of us in America sat down in our pews on Sunday, dressed in our Easter finest, hundreds of our brothers and sisters in Christ in Lahore, Pakistan were killed or seriously injured in a suicide bombing.

Many Christians had gathered in a local park to celebrate Easter, when a suicide bomber from an Al Qaeda splinter group specifically targeted them. Over 70 people were killed and more than 341 were injured in the blast. An overwhelming number of the casualties were women and children.

CNN has one eyewitness report:

One witness, Danish, was at the amusement park with his two sisters. He recalled the moment that the explosion ripped apart the park, killing one of his sisters and seriously injuring the other.

“It was so crowded that there was even no way of entering it. We went to a canteen to have something to eat, when there was suddenly a big blast. Everyone panicked, running to all directions. Many of them were blocked at the gate of the park. Dead bodies can be found everywhere,” he told reporters.

“My sister got wounded in the neck. The object hit her looks like a piece of hard iron, and it burnt her in the neck. She was also wounded in the chest.”

And now a leader of the terrorist group responsible has vowed that such attacks against Pakistan’s Christian minority will continue.

Christians make up less than 2% of Pakistan’s population, and they are now facing ever-increasing persecution from the majority hardline Muslim population.

I think it is often hard for those of us in America to truly understand what our brothers and sisters abroad go through for the sake of our faith. Although we have our own form of cultural oppression, it pales in comparison to the daily martyrdom of Christians in the Middle East and East Asia.

Christians in many of these countries are living next door to Islamic terrorists who could attack at any moment. And, unfortunately in many of these majority Muslim countries like Pakistan, even Muslims who aren’t terrorists are more likely to sympathize with ISIS than with Christians. As David has previously pointed out, 72% of Pakistan’s population can’t bring themselves to have a negative view of ISIS, the most radical and deadly terrorist group in centuries.

No wonder our fellow Christians face so much danger and persecution.

As our season of Lent and Easter comes to a close, may we remain in a posture of prayer for those affected by the attack in Lahore, and may we lift up our Christian brothers and sister their whose very lives are in constant peril.

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This Easter, Don’t Settle for Fuzzy Chickens, Bunnies, or Cigarette Smoke

Once my Jewish friend Rene said to me, “I don’t know why you guys always ruin your religious holidays with weird symbols like Santa Claus and the Easter bunny.  Christians have all the best holy days, but you always go and mess them up?”

As I stood there looking at my Easter basket full of plastic green grass and neon pink plastic eggs, I knew she had a point.  That’s why I was interested in Mark Driscoll’s take on what Christian parents should tell their kids about the Easter bunny in yesterday’s Washington Post.

Easter is the biggest Sunday of the year for Christians—and rightfully so. It’s an occasion for us to celebrate the Resurrection, the victory of Jesus Christ over Satan, sin, and death. It’s also when a few of the more “interesting” folks in the church, the kind who like to write end-times charts on ammo boxes in crayon, come out of the woods to rail against the day as a pagan holiday.

He explains the history of the holiday and how his family handles it:

My wife, Grace, and I choose to tell our five kids that the Easter Bunny, while fun, isn’t a real, magical bunny that hops from house to house laying colored eggs, candies, and toys on Easter morning. That’s a make-believe story, and we have no objections to fun and imagination so long as the kids also know that the Resurrection of Jesus is a historical fact and not a fanciful myth. With the overt commercialization that comes along with the Easter Bunny, and consequently Easter, as parents we don’t want to lose sight of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

But that doesn’t mean those things are bad in and of themselves. We simply want to enjoy them in their proper context. We are for fun. We are for Jesus…

We take the same approach to the Easter Bunny the way we do with Santa Claus at Christmas. We don’t demonize the Easter Bunny, but enjoy the tradition for what it is without making it the main theme of the holiday. Having your children’s pictures taken with the Easter Bunny or going on Easter egg hunts are all about having fun and making good memories. And there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the festivities as long as they don’t overshadow Jesus.

I applaud Driscoll’s even-handed approach to the secular symbols, and definitely think that Christian parents can – in good conscience – have Easter baskets and egg hunts.

However, one would hope that the church doesn’t necessarily try to work the secular into our holy days, as my Jewish friend said, to “go and mess them up.”  Yet for a couple of weeks, in my hometown of Columbia, Tennessee, I’ve driven by several gigantic billboards which advertise the upcoming Easter Service of a local Baptist church:

I’m not sure what this is even supposed to mean.  Are they pointing us to the true meaning of Easter: Match making?  Companionship?  Is the “new friend” supposed to slyly suggest Jesus Christ?  Why are the chicks wearing glasses? Is it some sort of misguided allusion to the pro-traditional marriage bumper stickers?  If so, why do the chicks seem so androgynous?

I have no answers.

Perhaps the elders at the church hope to entice people from the community to come for the companionship the yellow fluffy chicks promised, but leave with a saving power of the blood of Jesus Christ.  I happen to love the church…  not only is it one of the largest in town, it has a heart for evangelism and is filled with some great folks.  (Some of my best friends!)  That’s why the signs dotting the landscape of our town are so mystifying.

These types of billboards – and the whole bunny/egg-phenomenon generally – indicates a certain lack of spiritual wonder that should be a central part of the holiday.  A man – God! – died for sins.  At the cross, there is forgiveness. Shame has been erased. Death itself was conquered!

It’s like trying to describe a platinum diamond ring from Tiffany’s by cooly blowing a ring of smoke from a cigarette.   “See? They’re both rings.  Aren’t rings cool?”

No, we shouldn’t have to entice people into thinking Easter is cool, because it is actually amazing.

This year, let’s don’t settle for chicks and cheap, foil covered chocolate melted in the spring sun.

There’s something better.

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