Proclaiming a Message of Hope, Not Hate, in Pakistan
July 10, 2014
This Pakistani man was thrilled to purchase a Bible and learn more about the Christian faith. Since evangelism activities are illegal, Bibles cannot be given out for free, but they can be offered for sale at a low cost.
Despite relentless persecution against Christians, a ministry in Pakistan is seeking to strategically bring the good news of salvation to some of the most hostile sections of the country this summer.
Called “Extending Love to Neighbors,” the project was launched in mid-May with just 285 Bibles at the ministry’s disposal. The ministry director said his group is taking a bold step of faith and trusting God to provide all of the 2,000 Bibles they are planning to make available to their Muslim neighbors near a Taliban-controlled area by August 31.
“It is one of the difficult areas to evangelize,” the ministry leader explained in a report to Christian Aid Mission. “We praise God that in spite of all the hazards caused by heat and hatred, there are those who are seeking for the written Word of God.”
Since it is illegal to evangelize in Pakistan, Bibles cannot be given out for free. They can, however, be offered for sale at a low cost. The ministry pays $5 per Bible and sells them for $2.
Wherever the ministry’s gospel workers go, they find men and women whose hearts are eager to read the Word of God for themselves.
During its inaugural year in 1991, the ministry set a goal to sell and distribute 1,000 Bibles to Muslims. That goal was reached in the first month! By the end of the year, 4,000 Bibles had been sold.
Rioters burned Christian homes and businesses in the city of Lahore last year.
Over the past two decades, the ministry has placed more than 100,000 Bibles into the hands of Pakistan’s masses. In addition to Bibles, the ministry sells New Testaments and portions of Scriptures.
This past spring during the month of March alone, the ministry sold 378 Bibles, 38 New Testaments, and 414 portions of Scripture.
“Just last week on his way to a certain place, one of our staff stopped by a roadside stall to have a cold drink. While he was sipping his drink, the shopkeeper got curious and asked him where he was heading in that remote part of the country. In return our staff member introduced him to the Bible. The man was very jubilant, saying he had been looking for this book for a long time.
“The shopkeeper not only paid the required amount for the Bible, but did not charge for the cold drink, while offering him a piece of watermelon. He made the staff member promise to stop by his shop if ever he revisited the area,” the ministry leader said.
The group’s outreach has not been enthusiastically embraced by everyone, however. In the spring one of the gospel workers was arrested and was detained by police for several hours. He was released after submission of an affidavit stating he will not enter the city again.
Prior to this incident, ministry workers were taken into police custody for nearly a day because they tried to sell Scriptures in an area that was surrounded by a restricted boundary.
“In spite of all of these hurdles, the door to preach the gospel in Pakistan still remains open,” he said.
Sometimes the most unlikely individuals approach him and ask for Bibles. He relayed a recent experience in central Pakistan, where he was invited to give a brief talk about the Bible at a large Muslim school. After his presentation, a Muslim teacher asked him for a copy of the Bible.
In another institution, where one of the ministry’s staff is taking part-time classes, the administrator asked him to provide Christian books for all the members of the school staff.
Such positive responses encourage the ministry to press on with its message of hope, not hate, to all who will hear the gospel. After Christian materials have been disbursed, many recipients want and need a more in-depth study of the Bible. The ministry keeps a list of those who have obtained these resources, and each month no more than 20 people are invited to attend a three-to-four-hour Bible study. These “rallies” are held every two weeks for men and once a month for women. Studies have included the Book of Genesis and the Book of John.
At the ministry’s School of Evangelism, a three-month training program is offered for college students during their summer break. Only a few students are taken in at a time. They receive instruction in how to do field work, office work, and other functions. Over the past 20 years some 100 students have been trained.
These cartons of Bibles will bring good news of hope and salvation to unreached people in Pakistan.
Reports of the persecution and harassment of Christians in Pakistan surface on a regular basis. Asia Bibi, a mother of five, was sentenced to death and has been imprisoned since 2010 on charges of blasphemy against the Islam religion. Requests for an appeal have been delayed repeatedly, despite an international outcry from human rights groups. If she is executed, she would be the first woman in Pakistan to be “lawfully” killed for blasphemy, according to International Christian Concern’s website.
Earlier this year in Lahore, a Christian man was sentenced to death by the High Court for alleged blasphemy. A few weeks later, a trial court handed a death sentence to an illiterate, poor Christian couple accused of texting a blasphemous message to a local Muslim in Gojra.
“Similar news like this on the national scene has caused severe anxiety among the Christian community across the country,” said the ministry leader. “However those incidents will not stop us from going out. Please keep praying!”
In 2009 Christian Aid sent $20,000 to help construct a school for children whose building had been destroyed by militants. The local church currently oversees operation of the school. Additional funds were sent to help Christian families left homeless by violence to buy steel trunks to hold their salvaged belongings.
You can help the ministry proclaim God’s message of salvation and meet its goal of providing 2,000 Bibles to an unreached area of Pakistan this summer. A gift of $20 will make the Word of God available to four Pakistani families.