By John Martin
The Rev. Fayaz Adman lost 27 family members in a two-person suicide attack on All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan — the church of his baptism and confirmation — in September 2013. Instead of resorting to bitterness, however, the priest (a member of the Diocese of Manchester’s West Bolton Team) sprang into action. He and his wife launched Project Umeed (Project Hope) to provide care and support for people injured in the attack.
Adman recalled how he was about to leave for church when he received a telephone call from a friend telling him to watch the morning television news. That was the end of leading worship that day. By the middle of the afternoon the Rt. Rev. Christopher Edmondson, Bishop of Bolton, was on the doorstep.
Inside of a week Adman and his wife, a trained nurse, had flown to Peshawar. Little could have prepared them for what they witnessed. In all, more than 130 worshipers died in the attacks.
“We found dead bodies, including those of a few infants,” he said in a Church of England podcast. “There were heads on the church floor. I was unable to sleep at night, but spent my days visiting the injured in hospitals and in their homes.”
Adman said that Project Umeed’s work is “up to European standard.” Help has come from the Diocese of Manchester and beyond, including staff of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The work is based at the Taxila Christian Hospital at Rawalpindi, a twin city of Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. The hospital provided 20 rooms, which is enough space to accommodate up to 20 families. From this base, patients are sent to medical centres in other parts of Pakistan for specialist care and rehabilitation.
“They need spiritual and psychological care as well as wound management,” Adman said. “At first it was very difficult to think of forgiveness, but as I saw people recovering and benefitting from the help given, this is becoming easier. But it was very hard with so many members of my family taken in the one event.”
Added to the pain of Peshawar has been the Easter bombing at the Pakistan city of Lahore, which killed 69 people, mainly children, who were attending a church outing. Adman says he found out about the attack from a whispered message while at the altar presiding at Communion at the Church Emmanuel, Bolton.
He asks Christians everywhere to pray for Pakistan. “The basic thing is to pray for these terrorists, especially those who control the people who offer their lives to be terrorists. As long as these fundamentalists are there [in Pakistan], Christians are in danger.”