Pakistan’s tiny and downtrodden Christian community thought big when constructing its latest church — a domed, three-story building that towers over the sprawling slum it serves and is the largest yet in the violent, Muslim country.

St. Peter’s of Karachi, which opened its doors this month and can fit around 5,000 people, is a sign of the resilience of a faith that has long suffered from state discrimination and attacks by extremists allied with al-Qaida and the Taliban.

The church took 11 months to build and cost $3.8 million, raised from local donations and from Roman Catholics around the world, said Father Saleh Diego. It was built on the site of a smaller church in Azam Basti district, a jumble of lanes and simple brick houses that is home to around 15,000 Christians.

“There were so many people here it was not possible for us to accommodate them on Sundays. Some were sitting at the back, some in the corner, some on the terrace,” said Diego. “Now we can pray together, all 5,000 people, worship the Lord and really share and strengthen our faith.”

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