ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – On September 28, Muslim extremists charged into the home of Christian lawyer and evangelist Edwin Paul and brutally murdered him, his wife, and his five children who were of the ages 6-17. His crime? For taking the legal case of Robin Mehboob, a Christian taxi driver, who received a hike in interest rate of a small loan (the equivalent of $1,725) from the original terms of 400% to 500% from a lender backed by Muslim extremists. The exorbitant interest rates, whether from the original terms or after, were based solely on the fact that Mehboob was a Christian.
Upon filing the claim, representatives of the lender went to Paul’s home, railing against him, “How dare you Christians go to the police; don’t you know we own the law here?” Upon that, Mehboob testifies, “They assaulted us, beating us with fists and clubs, and warned that if we try to seek any assistance, they will kill us.” Mehboob fled to his brother’s home, and Paul stayed at his home, pursuing the case of his Christian brother. Shortly thereafter, the same men returned and killed Paul, his wife, and his five children.
Such a story is almost surreal. To imagine that seven people, seven of our brothers and sisters in Christ, would be shot down in cold blood, because the father sought justice over a loan for $1,725 for a fellow brother. It takes your breath away. How did it transpire? It is heart-wrenching to imagine. Were the children killed first? Were they forced upon their knees and executed while their helpless parents watched in unimaginable horror? Or was Paul killed first, and his family left to watch as each subsequent one witnessed the successive and heartless murder of the persons whom they held most dear, ending with the 7 year-old child looking up at his family’s killers with devastation and tears streaming down his eyes as he viewed the last image of his short life—a gun barrel directed toward his head? O, the unspeakable horror!
And then we think upon what this great tragedy was over–$1,725! Robin Mehboob, a fellow brother and child of God, was so desperately in need of money that he was willing to accept the terms of a 400% rate loan and possible persecution to get it. What did he need it for? Was his family starving to death? Did he need a home to protect his wife and children? Was one of his parents deathly ill and needed medical care that he could not afford? We may not ever know the extenuating circumstances that drove this man to seek money from a Muslim-backed lender, but there is one thing that we can be sure of—he needed the money desperately.
When I think upon the sequence of events—a brother who needed money, a lender who changed the terms of the loan to something our brother could not afford, the brother who was willing to stand beside our brother to fight his case, and the subsequent beating of the two and then the murder of a family of seven—my heart cannot help but be torn within me. I ask myself, Could this have been prevented? Why was there not fellow Christians whom he could go to for aid? Why was the well of gifts dry? And then I think upon my situation and wonder what I possess that I paid $1,725 for. My LCD television was not so much less than that. The computers that our family owns does not total to much less than that. The car which we drive cost tens times that. Our satellite, internet, Netflix, cell phone and other luxury bills add to well over that in a year’s time. In all these things—all these things which I count as rights and privileges for being an American citizen—could I have prevented this slaughter by being generous and liberal with my giving? Could brother Mehboob have turned to the church for the $1,725 that he needed if I and other American Christians were not so ensnared by our luxuries? Would Paul, his wife, and his seven children still be with us today if we did not have to have our DirecTV and our iPhone data plans? My God, I feel damned by the weight of my luxury!
The sad reality is that this very thing happens to Christians around the globe all the time. What is sadder is that we who are blinded by our entertainment and our American Dreams will never see it. The world does not care, because they hate our Lord. Our government does not care, because Pakistan is not an area of civil interest. Our brothers and sisters in those areas do care, but they do not have the means to aid them, and they are in need of aid themselves. Who then does the weight fall upon? It falls upon us, the American church, because we are Christians, and we have the means to aid our brothers and sisters. Yet we will not, because we think that the American Dream is more important. We will not, because atrocities that happen to un-Americans are merely “unfortunate” and easily forgotten. We will not, because we think that having nice things is not a bad thing as long as we are reading our Bibles, praying, going to church, and going door-to-door on occasion. We will not, because we will not lift up our eyes to see the suffering of those whom our Lord has bought with blood, those whom he has loved before the foundation of the world, and those upon whom he peers down with tears, saying, “Well done, my good and faithful servants!” O, that God will tear open our hearts and tear us away from our stuff so that we can fulfill that which he has commanded us to do—to love our brothers as ourselves!
For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack” (2Cor. 8:13-15).