Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Persecuted Church: Pakistan

This story is less about a country and the persecution of Christians there and more about a Believer and the miraculous ways that God provides.

Mujahd grew up in Pakistan in a solid Muslim family. He was a respected member of the military, and his ultimate goal in life was death through martyrdom; death through jihad while taking the lives of Christians.

That is until the day he got his hands on a piece of literature. He read the words:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

As he read he was overwhelmed by the message of peace and love. It was so different than the Koran that he grew up with. He was shocked to find out that this literature he was reading was, in fact, part of the Bible. (Matthew 11:28-30)

As Mujahd was transformed into a man of faith, he faced much persecution. In one incident he was being walked to a furnace to die, and before the men threw him in they told him his crime. They charged him with believing and preaching a harmful treacherous lie. Mujahd replied by asking if they had ever actually read the Bible. When they said no, he claimed that they could not charge him with such a thing if they do not actually know what the Bible says. Mujahd handed them his, and told them to read it. He told them that when they were finished they could come and find him if they still thought he was guilty. Amazingly the men did not follow through in killing Mujahd, but instead let him go peacefully.

Mujhad was able to attend seminary in South Africa. He returned home to Pakistan, but would occassionlly travel back to South Africa to share his testimony.

On a trip to South Africa in 1997, with his wife and two children, someone who heard Mujahd speak reported to Pakistan that he was, in fact, traveling to preach the gospel. The government of Pakistan made an agreement with that of South Africa that as soon as Mujahd's visa expired, he would be sent straight back to Pakistan.

With only 15 days left until they would be forced back to their home land, and with no money, Mujahd and his family prayed for a miracle. They knew that if they returned to Pakistan, that the punishment, without question, would be death.

Mujahd and his wife went to every place that they thought may possibly help them. They tried to get their visas extended. They went to the U.S. embassy seeking visas to the United States, but were told that they must apply for such a visa from their home country. They sought the help of the U.N. Each time they were turned away, left with no hope.

They returned to the place they were staying, and followed an urging to fast and pray. Like the fast in the book of Esther, they prayed and went without food or drink for three days and nights.

Mujahd had heard stories of Christians who carried Bibles with them across borders into closed nations, the eyes of the soldiers being blinded.

Mujahd prayed that the eyes of the embassy would be blinded. He prayed that they would not be able to see that their passports came from Pakistan. He prayed that they would not see the orders that he return directly to Pakistan.

The day after their fast Mujahd and his wife returned to the U.S. Embassy, and with no other explanation, the eyes of the embassy were blinded. Their visas were approved, and could be picked up in a matter of days. They were recieved with no further questions, and no hinderances.

Now that they had their visas, Mujahd and his family still had one problem. He had no money. How was he to get a family of four from South Africa to the U.S?

At this point they only had nine days left, at which point they would be deported back to Pakistan if they could not afford the plane tickets to their safety.

Again, they fasted. Three days and three nights. If they were not on a plane to the United States by June 23rd, they would be on plane headed to Pakistan to face their death.

The day after they ended their fast, a man showed up at their front door. He had, in hand, four plane tickets to the United States. They were dated for June 22, at 6pm.

As he was preparing to leave for the United States, Mujahd was told that when he went through customs, he would have to provide information such as where he was staying, what kind of work he would be doing there, and who would be sponsoring him while in the country. Mujahd did not have answers to any of these questions, but they went, with one more step of faith.

They boarded the plane and left South Africa with no time to spare. When they landed in the U.S. they moved to stand in the shortest line at customs. Moments later Mujahd felt the the urge to move to the longest line, so the family did so.

When they reached the front of the line, the woman asked Mujahd what he would be doing in the U.S. The Holy Spirit told Mujahd to shut his mouth: God would provide the words. After 15 seconds of silence, when Mujahd thought it was over, the woman asked him, "Are you coming here to be a missionary?"

With a big smile, Mujahd confidently answered "Yes."

And a missionary he has been.

Mujahd lives in the United States, where he encourages Christians with his testimony, educates people about the persecuted church, and continually shares his faith.

I hope his story reminds you of what a mighty and miraculous God we serve.