Volume. XX, No. 39
From the Pastorís heart: Pakistan trip
Every opportunity to be able to minister God’s word to His people is a privilege to His servants. In this regard, I have been blessed so much by many open doors for teaching and preaching from the Word. My last trip was to visit India and Pakistan, and I’d like to share some of my experiences in and thoughts about Pakistan with you. When I was invited to go to Pakistan, it surprised me greatly. It was probably because I had never thought of travelling to that particular country. My first reaction to this invitation was lots of “wows”. I thought of this country as a Muslim country, and a haven for hard-line extremists. Pakistan and Afghanistan share a common border, and almost every day we hear about both countries in very negative ways. The first thing I did was to check the government website for overseas travellers. It showed me that there were different categories of warnings against travelling to certain countries. If a person plans to travel to Pakistan, he is warned to think again. The information I got from different websites did not encourage me to go at all. In fact, if I were to go, then I would look like a fool. Only a few days before I left for Pakistan, there were a few suicide bombing incidents in the country. There was also a warning that some more protests would be organized against the recent Danish cartoon incident and the visit of President George W. Bush. Especially, the city of Lahore was quite frequently mentioned on BBC and CNN, and that was the city I was supposed to go to. The invitation to go to Pakistan came from the President of ICCC, and he also wanted to know about the safety of the country. How should I respond to this inquiry? I had never been to Pakistan before, and there was an urgent call from the brethren in the country to come. I chose to close my eyes and decided to go. Some of the Hopefuls carefully told me to review my decision. Thanks to them all for their love and concern.
Right from the beginning of this trip, I faced a few obstacles. My passport did not return to me in time, and I was quite desperate. My travel agent made quite a number of phone calls to the High Commission of Pakistan in Canberra, but failed to bring my passport with a visa back to me. I had to make a few personal calls to the High Commission for assistance, and finally I received my passport with the visa on the last day before my departure date. Another happening took place in New Delhi when two other gentlemen and I went to the Pakistan Airways desk for check-in. There was no record of these two men’s names. Again, at the last moment with the help of the aircrew, all of us were able to get onboard. I was wondering whether it was an indication that I should not go, as most of us may feel. However, as usual, with a care-free style, I silently prayed to the Lord and went ahead. The real story begins from this moment.
More than a dozen men were bowing down toward their holy city and praying in the airport. Their costumes were those I had seen from newspapers. They were wearing small hats and growing beards just like Osama Bin Laden. My preconceived ideas about Pakistan intimidated me, I must confess. The aircraft was clean, and surprisingly there were female crew members serving meals to us. I thought there would not be any chance to see any women in the country except in their thick, black gowns. Without many questions, the immigration officer allowed me to enter into his country. When I went outside the airport, I was very shocked. It was so calm and peaceful. People were roaming around the airport so comfortably. There were lots of cars in the parking lot, and there was a large TV screen showing a female figure dancing and singing in English! She even showed her belly! This secular aspect of Pakistan surprised me over and over. When I went to eat lunch at KFC (yes, KFC! there are McDonalds and Subways too), the music I heard there was no different from that of our FMs in Australia. A couple was dating in the restaurant.
I was given a bodyguard with a machine gun, which was a grim reminder of the dangers still in the country. I went to a city called Gujranwala. There was a graduation in the seminary on March 11. I was able to share some of God’s Word with the graduating class on the day before the graduation, and twenty-three students graduated from the school this year. About two percent of the population are said to be Christians. Though they are a minority and sometimes they have to go through tough times, they are energetic and strong Christians. A lady whom I met told me that she was the only Christian among 600 students during her high school years. They worshipped God boldly. Whenever I and the others preached, they used high-powered amplifiers and many big speakers to broadcast the messages throughout the community. Sometimes, Moslem prayers from the mosques overlapped with our preaching and singing. Thank the Lord for the freedom that the Christians have in worshipping God. The Christians were eager to hear God’s Word. Many of the Christian workers have full time jobs, but during evening hours they gathered for prayer meetings and Bible studies. They were so disappointed that I had to cancel a few meetings because of my shortened trip. The law in the land prevents Christians from proselytizing Moslems, but if the latter want to hear God’s Word, they are free to go to the Gospel meetings. Many Christians are able to speak Persian and Afghani languages. Some of them are able to read and write Arabic too. There are many talented people who are fully committed to the Lord’s ministry. The Pakistanis are very polite and kind people. They were especially kind to me. Whenever there was a Christian meeting, a few policemen were sent for protection. Probably, it was because I and the others were foreigners. The hotel I stayed in was also guarded by armed security guards.
I would like to bring your attention to their needs. You may pray and do something for them, if the Lord touches your heart. Firstly, St. John’s Theological Seminary and her church need a keyboard, which costs about US$ 500. They had to rent one for the graduation. Music is an important part of their worship. Remember again that their services are broadcasted via large speakers. All their singing is from the book of psalms. Secondly, their pastor has a special need. His wife had a stroke about a year ago, and she is immobile nowadays. If she can get a wheelchair, it will be helpful for his ministry. If you are willing to donate a wheelchair, I’ll check the price in Pakistan. One serious problem in Pakistani churches is that there are many cults and false teachers amongst them. Solid theological training is therefore most needed. Pray that good Bible teachers will travel to Pakistan and teach pastors and future pastors with sound doctrines. Thank you for your prayers and financial assistance during my recent trip. God bless!
Lovingly, Your Pastor