Ministry in Pakistan – 2012
Pakistan is an Islamic country with 97% of the population considered to be Muslims. Christians are a very small minority and Protestants a small proportion of this. To be a Protestant Christian in Pakistan is costly. Employment becomes difficult and reproach and persecution are the expected result for those who profess faith in the Lord Jesus. So why should I write about Pakistan? ‘God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform.’ I go back to late 2009 when as a church at Hope Chapel, Redhill, we decided to enclose the bookletUltimate Questions with our annual Christmas Calendar distribution. It is not perfect, but a good booklet to cause people to consider their ways.
This distribution had an almost immediate effect as we were contacted by a Pakistani national who was so impressed that he asked if we could translate this booklet into Urdu (the national language of Pakistan) and also some other languages. We arranged to meet this man whose name is Sohail. At the meeting we suggested he might like to read Ben Ramsbottom’s book, Bible Doctrines. He willingly agreed and in a couple of days phoned me, said how much he had enjoyed it and asked if we could translate it into Urdu. He said it was like a small body of divinity! This seemed a very worthwhile project so the translation was arranged to be carried out in Pakistan with a back translation carried out in the UK to establish its accuracy. When this was complete, and all amendments made, the Gospel Standard Trust agreed to fund the printing of 1000 copies. This was so well received that another 5000 copies were requested so that distribution could be made throughout Pakistan.
During this time the Pakistani Pastor who had been fronting this work had his Church bulldozed to the ground by the Muslims. We subsequently found out the history of this church which is as follows. Pastor Sawar (our contact Pastor) had known the Lord’s direction to go to the poorest part of Lahore in Pakistan to establish a church. From meeting in a house this had progressed so that there was a need to have a building to meet in as the numbers had increased. Pastor Sawar had a little money (although he lived in rented accommodation) and together with money received from the sale of his wife’s jewellery they were able to purchase a small piece of land and gradually erect a building. What a blow to have the building demolished! What should they do? By faith they commenced building again, and when they reached the roof level we were alerted to the position and realised they had no more money to pay for the roof. It was at this stage that our church had a collection to pay for the roof. They were overjoyed.
Subsequently they emailed, asking me to go and preach at their Pastors’ Conference. I thought it was their way of thanking us for the financial help we had given and did not expect to hear any more. It was a surprise when I received an email informing me of the dates of the conference with a note that they were expecting me! I responded saying I could not come on these dates but I did give a possible alternative date. I was amazed when this change of date was readily accepted and I was also told I could select my own choice of subjects. So what should I do? The Lord had opened a door.
So I agreed to go; I was to preach eight times in five days. It was with some trepidation that I landed at Lahore airport in the morning of 9th March 2012, to be greeted very warmly by Pastor Sawar and his colleagues. I was taken to my hotel in a curtained minibus, and allowed a few hours rest until I was whisked off to the church previously mentioned to preach my first two sermons with a ten minute break between them.
Pakistan is a male-dominated work force; indeed the only work (other than household work and looking after their families) that women are allowed to do is teaching, hospital work and the police force. Therefore all hotel workers were male. In the services there was generally segregation with the men on the left and the women on the right; this also included the children. All the women were covered in their brightly-coloured saris and hea-scarves; it was a joy not to have to look at large areas of bare flesh. I was not allowed to leave my hotel unaccompanied. There was also security outside of the church buildings in the form of a police officer and a security guard.
I now discovered that I was the only speaker. Each service was attended by between 200 and 400 people, apart from the Lord’s Day when there were only about 100 people from the local church. I spoke through an interpreter (Pastor Sawar) who I believe did an excellent job, judging by the comments made to me after each sermon by some of the people.
So what did I preach from? I desired to preach Christ. Indeed as the Apostle Paul, I determined to know nothing among men but Jesus Christ and him crucified. So, by the grace of God, I preached on the following subjects and in the following order.
- 9th March Pastors’ conference: 1. The person of Christ; 2. The redemption of Christ.
- 10th March Pastors’ conference: 3. The High Priesthood of Christ; 4. I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
- 11th March Sunday service: 5. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else (Isa. 45:22).
- 12th March Convention: 6. I am the bread of life (John 6:35).
- 13th March Convention: 7. I am the good shepherd (John 10:11).
- 14th March Convention: 8. I am the vine (John 15:5).
Halfway through my time in Pakistan I suddenly realised three things: firstly, I had felt the help of the Lord in preaching and it had been warmly received; secondly, I had felt very peaceful with no fear; and thirdly, I had not felt tired, although on two occasions I had not gone to bed until 2.30 am! I believe that prayers had been answered, not only of the many who had been praying in England but also the many prayers in Pakistan. Apparently before I arrived, some of the people had prayed all night for God’s blessing to be made known!
On one afternoon I was asked to meet a number of pastors who wanted to ask me questions. This was a very interesting and challenging time but I was able to answer all their requests satisfactorily. They told me – to God’s glory – they had never heard Christ so preached before.
On several occasions as I entered the church the ladies had formed a passage and as Pastor Sawar and I passed along they threw handfuls of rose petals over us which obviously gave them great joy. Also on two occasions a line of ladies presented me with gifts to take home, including a beautiful sari outfit for my wife.
These people who had come to hear the preached Word had nearly all walked, some many miles. None of them had cars. They did not hide their light; indeed many posters had been displayed around the town informing the people I was to preach which included a large picture of me. It was wonderful to see so many people hungry for the Word. When it was time to leave two car-loads of people came to see me off at the airport with many requests that I return. I gave no promises.
So what did my visit achieve? We shall never know. I did however have a number of emails from Pastor Sawar saying how the Christ-exalting ministry had been blessed. One of these emails was as follows: ‘I am happy to write to you that as a result of your teaching and preaching 25 people have come forward to be baptised with water baptism. All these people are very much happy to have Christ in their lives’. I did not preach on baptism and do not think I even mentioned it.
This was a great encouragement to me as there are no baptisteries in the churches so the baptising is in the open – a public demonstration of their belief in the Lord Jesus. ‘Ye are my witnesses’ in a country which is 97% Muslim. To God be the glory.
Taken with permission from Perception, Winter 2012
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