Crowns of Courage: Akash’s Eternal Sacrifice

On March 15, 2015, the Christian community of Youhanabad, Pakistan, suffered an attack that left lasting scars. In a set of dual attacks, suicide bombers violently ambushed St. John’s Catholic Church and Christ Church. When the dust settled, 21 people were killed and over 70 others were injured.

While the tragedy was devastating, it is a miracle that the death toll was not higher. This is largely due to the heroic efforts of Christian security volunteers who paid the ultimate price to prevent the bombers from entering the church compounds before detonating their deadly payloads.

Among the security volunteers was 20-year-old Akash Bashir, who was killed as he protected St. John’s Catholic Church by tackling and pinning down the suicide bomber before he was able to enter the church.

Akash had volunteered to serve as a security guard shortly after a 2014 church bombing in Peshawar killed 85, hoping to prevent a similar tragedy.

In the aftermath of his death, Akash’s mother Naz Bibi told ICC, “I am proud of giving birth to Akash. He was the apple of my eye and very brave and obedient. I now love to be called Akash’s mother instead of Naz, my actual name.”

“Foremost, I am alive because of him,” Father Francis Gulzar, the parish priest of St. John’s Catholic Church added. “I give thanks for this life I have because of him. More than a thousand faithful present at that time in and near the church thank him. The suicide bomber didn’t come for Akash Bashir but for me and the worshipers. But Akash became a wall to protect us.”

For his brave actions, Akash was eventually recognized with sainthood by the Catholic Church, Pakistan’s first ever candidate for sainthood in the overwhelmingly Muslim nation.

Year after year, Youhanabad’s Christian community gathers to remember those who lost their lives in these senseless attacks and honor those who helped prevent an even greater massacre.

Not only did Akash leave behind a legacy of courage and selflessness, he also continues to inspire others in the same way. His younger brother Arsalan recalled, “After his death, several youth came forward to become volunteer guards and I also decided to join them. Many have been inspired by his martyrdom.”

Though his life was short, the impact he made was immeasurable and will surely be recognized for many years to come.

Source: Crowns of Courage: Akash’s Eternal Sacrifice – International Christian Concern (

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