Saturday, March 17, 2012

Religious freedom in...Pakistan?

It is strange to read something like this, especially with "free" nations like Canada trying to make it illegal for homeschoolers to be taught that homosexuality is a sin, and authorities cracking down on home Bible studies right here in America. Gary North shares an email he received from a missionary in Turkey. In it the missionary describes the religious freedom he saw while visiting the Islamic country of Pakistan:
There is another side of Pakistan that you never hear about. I truly believe that the churches and believers in Pakistan are the most spiritually blessed that I have ever seen. In fact, they have more freedoms than any other Christians in any other country that I have visited. The believers do know that they could suffer persecution at any moment but they never back down for a second.

There are around 20 million Christians in Pakistan, whole neighborhoods and villages are Christian, with some neighborhoods having up to 60 churches in them. There are mixed Muslim/Christian villages and neighborhoods and they generally have decent relationships with one another. Many churches broadcast their services on loud-speakers so that the whole community can listen in, especially for those that are not able to attend. The Muslim neighbors listen to the sermons and service whether they like it or not every day!

The Christians hold outdoor meetings weekly (like tent services) over loud-speakers. One that I spoke at over 350 attended and it was right across from the mosque! Many churches meet for prayer, worship and a sermon every night. And they are always packed! The last night I was there I preached at one such service. During the church services the women sit at one side, (cover their heads for prayer), the men sit on the other side and they sing, worship and pray for hours.

Christians can openly state that they are Christian, wear crosses, put religious symbols on their taxis, rick-shaws and are open about their faith, unlike here in Turkey. There are many Christian private schools for one to be educated in, however the majority are poor and sending their kids to school is not an option.

Pastors work hard doing up to 20-30 home visits daily. They visit the members of their church, pray for their needs and encourage them. I went on many home-visits with the local pastors and prayed for these wonderful brothers and sisters. I was shocked to hear that the churches hold evangelistic crusades in open air stadiums where up to 3,000 people or more attend. In fact, I was asked to be the speaker at a 3 day crusade that will be held in a city south of Lahore next year.

The Christians that live in the villages live in a close community, and in the neighborhoods in the city the doors (curtains) to every home are always wide open (even at night, and street cats wander into your room!), there is a feeling of security and trust among each other and in the areas they live in.
Read more here.

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