It is officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Its flag is comprised of a white crescent and star (traditional Muslim symbols) on a field of green (a color associated with Islam). Approximately 178 million people in this country (96.4% of the population) are followers of Islam.
Pakistan is the second largest Muslim-population nation in the world, following Indonesia. There are Christians. But they are a tiny minority, often facing intense persecution.
Pastor Samuel knows this from first-hand experience. Raised as a Roman Catholic in Pakistan, he was on his way to becoming a priest when he was confronted by a friend with the gospel. After reading Isaiah 53, he felt God touch his heart and decided to accept Christ. He was baptized and, soon, God gave him a vision to evangelize Muslims.
Full of zeal, he took to the streets, sharing the Good News and giving away Bibles. His “mission field” was Kashmir, an area known for Muslim extremism, as well as Taliban activity. Because of these dangers, very little evangelism has been done in Kashmir.
Unfazed by the risks, Samuel began to openly preach in the markets of Kashmir, giving Bibles to anyone who would accept them. It was on one of these excursions that a group of Muslim priests appeared and took him captive.
“They took me to the backside of the market and started torturing me bitterly. I was very near to death when a man appeared and asked, ‘Why are you beating him?’ The priests said, ‘He is a Christian and was evangelizing in our area.’”
The man then suggested that they stop beating him and simply bar him from the market – with a legally binding document.
This probably saved Samuel’s life.
He was released, but in the coming days, the Muslim priests continued to persecute him. Undaunted by this, Samuel faithfully took God’s Word and the message of salvation to this area.
On one occasion, he shared the gospel with a man who responded by accepting Christ. This man, in turn, shared his newfound faith with his family and they accepted Christ. Before long a church was birthed – one of the first indigenous churches in Azad Kashmir.
On another occasion, Samuel was caught distributing Bibles during the Muslim time of prayer. He was taken to the high priest of the mosque and accused of being a “kafar” (infidel) for spreading Christianity. The penalty for this, according to the Qur’an, is death.
Samuel began to pray. As the mob around him grew, he was beaten and some began to throw stones at him.
In answer to Samuel’s prayer, a journalist on the scene called the police. When they arrived, they took Samuel to the police station. The crowd followed, demanding that the police hand him over. Instead, the authorities waited until the mob had subsided and then released Samuel.
He had trouble walking and spent the next few days recovering from his various injuries. But instead of heeding this painful warning, Samuel returned to the area, rejoicing, sensing God’s call for him to take Bibles to every home in the region.
Peter wrote about this in his first letter: “In all this greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”
Pray for Samuel, and all of our brothers and sisters in places like Pakistan, where persecution is real and present, and sharing their faith in Christ comes with a heavy price.
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