- The Washington Times - Monday, March 25, 2002

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan They came wounded but walking, bandaged but resolute in faith.
Survivors of a grenade attack on a Protestant church that killed five persons last weekend gathered on Palm Sunday for the first time since the assault, taking strength in their tears and turning to prayer in their time of need.
"Lord, we hurt. We weep. We cry. We get angry," said the Rev. James L. Killgore, the church's former pastor, who flew to Pakistan from Atlanta for the service. "And we need your spirit to help us sort these things through."
About 50 members of the Protestant International Church sat close to one another and turned to the Bible to make sense of what happened on March 17. At least one man hurled grenades into their congregation that day, sending shrapnel through a crowd made up largely of foreigners.
The dead included U.S. Embassy employee Barbara Green and her 17-year-old daughter, Kristen Wormsley. More than 45 persons were injured.
A week later, members of the congregation still appeared to move about in shock, saddened that anyone would choose a church as a target for attack particularly one in a guarded diplomatic quarter in the heart of Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, about 400 yards from the U.S. Embassy compound.
"Just like the World Trade Center was considered invincible, the church was considered very safe," Mr. Killgore said before the service yesterday. "It wasn't an easy place to get to."
No group has claimed responsibility, but suspicion centers on Islamic extremists who are angry that Pakistan is cooperating with the United States in its war on terrorism.
President Bush condemned the attack, and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf promised to relentlessly hunt down those responsible.
Days afterward, the State Department ordered all dependents and nonessential U.S. Embassy staff to leave Pakistan in the first mandatory departure since the September 11 attacks and the start of the U.S.-led war in neighboring Afghanistan, citing heightened security risks.
However, even after all they had been through, members of this community didn't want to spend the day alone. They wanted to start putting their church and their lives back together.
So, they borrowed the palm-festooned sanctuary at St. Thomas Church, unable to meet in their own church because it still was being cleaned and combed for evidence.
They printed new programs. They talked about Easter. And they began anew.
Some stood one at a time to offer prayers, many beginning with the words "Thank you, Lord." They thanked other people, too, like members of a special Pakistani police unit investigating the case who, together with investigators from the U.S. Embassy, sat in the back of the church.
In the end, what began as a somber service became less so, lifted by the hope that something more would come out of the tragedy.
"Your tears are not in vain," Mr. Killgore said. "They will become tomorrow's seeds of hope."
Some in the congregation wiped their tears. Mark Robinson, 32, of San Clemente, Calif., who was wounded in the leg and buttocks, came with his family even though the attack was fresh in his mind.
"I'm not going to say it didn't cross my mind," he said, sitting with his two little girls who wore crisp white party dresses.
But Mr. Robinson, who works for a nongovernmental organization, said he would not leave Pakistan, even though Americans had been advised to go.
Instead, he walked over to a table where investigators had laid out personal items left over from the attack, took a look and just went on with his life.
"I still believe," he said. "My life is in God's hands."


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