"Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner, but blessed is he who is generous to the poor." Proverbs 14:21
Christian missionaries in Lahore, Pakistan, are working diligently to care for both Muslims and Christians affected by the horrific terrorist attack that killed dozens of people and left hundreds of others wounded.
As earlier reported, 72 people were killed and more than 320 others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a busy park in Lahore on Easter Sunday,
"Mostly women and children are killed and injured in the blast," Lahore Police Chief Haider Ashraf said, adding that the park was busier than usual as Easter Sunday was being celebrated. "He chose a soft target and that's why he went towards women and children in the park."
The Islamic extremist group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, which splintered from the Taliban, has since taken responsibility for the bombing, which has been identified as the deadliest attack in Pakistan since the December 2014 massacre of 134 schoolchildren at a military-run academy in Peshawar.
In a media statement, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said that while many Muslims were killed, the suicide bomber deliberately targeted the Christian community.
"We claim responsibility for the attack on Christians as they were celebrating Easter," Ehsan said in the statement.
"It was part of our annual martyrdom attacks we have started this year," he added. "We had been waiting for this occasion...We didn't want to kill women and children. Our targets were male members of the Christian community."
Less than three weeks later, more than 150 Muslims are still receiving hospital care, along with about 50 Christians, including 23 under 20 years old, a ministry director told Christian Aid Mission. About 50 of the Muslims are in critical condition, as well as 18 of the Christians, mostly children, he added.
In response, indigenous Christian ministries are reaching out to injured Muslims and Christians and families who have lost loved ones, seeking to help cover medical costs for victims regardless of religion.
Aid workers are also listening to survivors as they process their grief, and shared one particularly heartbreaking story from a Christian father of four identified only as Daniel.
Daniel told the ministry director that his 15-year-old son asked him for some money to go to the park after their Easter church service.
"His son took his three friends from the street they live to Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, and at around 6 p.m. the terrorist attacked, and his son was hurt in his leg, back and stomach," the director said.
"His three friends were together during the attack. One died at the park right after the attack took place, while the other died as they reached the hospital, and the third friend is battling for his life at the hospital."
Visiting victims in hospitals or in their homes, ministry members are counseling and praying with survivors - both Muslim and Christian, he said. They are also helping them with practical needs such as meals.
"Several people are daily wage workers, and right now they are going to work while dealing with the trauma, and they need a one-time meal or meals for a month, and then we're providing counselling to overcome the loss and trauma," he said. "We are working with both Muslim and Christian communities. We are praying for everyone, each day we take a different pastor from a different denomination, Catholics included."
The ministry director told CAM that his organization is praying that God uses their ministry to open the eyes of those suffering at the hands of Islamic extremists to the truth of the Gospel.
He said, "We are praying that we will have an opportunity through this to build further relationships, and through this very practical expression of the love of our Lord for others, the ministry will be encouraged to love their neighbors, that many would come to know their Savior."