Pakistan: He laid down his life for others

November 2015: The parents of a young man in Pakistan paid tribute to their son after he gave his life for hundreds of Mass-goers by preventing a suicide bomber from entering their parish church.

Returning to St John’s Catholic Church, Yohannabad, near Lahore, where Akash Bashir died, his parents, Nazbano and Bashir, told Aid to the Church in Need staff visiting Pakistan how the 20-year-old volunteer guard was killed while slamming the church gate in the face of a suicide bomber.

At least 15 people were killed – and more than 70 were injured – when on Sunday, 15th March 2015 suicide bombers struck at St John’s and nearby Christ Church Protestant Church. Akash’s father, Bashir, told ACN: “My son knew the sacrifice he was making. He gave his life to save hundreds of people at Mass that day.” Claiming responsibility for the attack was Islamist militant group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, which also said it was behind the March 2016 Easter Day bomb blast at Lahore’s Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park, which killed nearly 80 people, many of them Christians.

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Founded in 1947 as a Catholic aid organization for war refugees and recognized as a papal foundation since 2011, ACN is dedicated to the service of Christians around the world, through information, prayer and action, wherever they are persecuted or oppressed or suffering material need. ACN supports every year an average of 6000 projects in close to 150 countries, thanks to private donations, as the foundation receives no public funding.