Mission Trip to Pakistan & United Arab Emirates
November 12-23, 2009
As we are on the long trip back from Pakistan we started gathering our thoughts and writing down some of the great experiences God brought upon us. FG and I went on one of the riskiest trip we have taken so far in our ministry years, but with great risks God brought great fulfillment. Going to a Muslim nation with the Gospel was a very hard decision to make, especially with the country of Pakistan being ravaged by war and suicide bombers. However, where there is an element of risk involved only faith in God compels us, and calls us to conquer our fears and go for His glory.
We had an open invitation for Pakistan for a couple years and after getting in contact with a brother from US, who had to leave Pakistan because of persecution, I was compelled to go. Soon we read in our newspapers about the tragic attacks on the Christian community in Gojra, Pakistan where 8 people were burned to death in their homes. This amplified the call of God to answer to the cry of the Christians in Pakistan. Proverbs 21:13 says: “Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard”.
After seeking God with prayer and fasting we received the confirmation and confidence from God to go. Our trip began November 12, questioning in our hearts if we will see this return day of November 23, 2009. After a 13-hour flight we reached Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Another 4-hour flight took us into Lahore, Pakistan. We have never seen our contacts before but a big welcome sign together with the smiles and friendly manner of our contacts made us feel comfortable and well received.
Our first night we spent at Christian Fellowship of Pakistan Church in Lahore. After having lunch at a local Christian family we headed towards Shantinagar, where the bulk of our ministry in Pakistan was prepared. Shantinagar is a village of about 10,000 in which many Christian families reside. This attracted an attack in 1997 from a Muslim sponsored mob of 20,000 to 30,000 people. They burned over 300 houses, 16 churches, 270 vehicles, etc. thus affecting more than 1,000 Christian families. We made a short stop at Shaiwal and because it was getting late, and travel during the night is dangerous, we stopped to sleep at a family in Khanewal. That same night we visited a Christian bible college sponsored by FCBC, the organization we worked with in Pakistan. We meet the principal Elvin Wilson who gave us a tour and answered our questions regarding the curriculum and the student body. Under Wilson’s watch the college is doing a great job at preparing the new pastors, evangelists, and leaders for the expansion of kingdom of God in that area of Pakistan.
Because of the time change; the next day was Sunday already. Half an hour trip took us from Khanewal to Shantinagar. As we were entering the village group of 3 motorcycles approached our van while the people where waving their guns. We thought we might be under attack but our host assured us this is just our escort into town, to provide more security. The local church waited for us with big celebrations, which included gunshots fired into the air, flowers and some of the local festivity traditions. We were introduced with great delight and respect to the local people, pastors, and music leaders. Above all, we felt the presence of the Holy Spirit uniting us in one accord. Still we were uncomfortable, and did not have the full liberty in the spirit because of all the guns and security precautions. We trusted in God’s protection as our life insurance. A lady from the church called our translator and said she had a dream to share with us. She was in charge of preparing everything for us and was expecting our arrival the previous night. She had food and accommodations ready and was afraid something happened to us on our way since we did not come. After midnight she went to sleep worrying, but God gave her a clear vision. In the vision she saw our faces and before us flames of fire which spread into the church. Psalm 97:3 says: “Fire goes before Him”. Psalm 104:4 also says: “Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire.” As she was telling the vision a big anointing from the Holy Spirit came down, broke the spirit of fear, gave confidence, and increased our strength so we can minister with boldness and courage.
Because of limited time and to avoid exposure we were lead by the Holy Spirit to have a seminary with all the pastors in the area. This way we were able to reach to more people than it would have otherwise been possible. Nayyar Asghar, the national director of FCBC, and a true man of God, arranged this 3-day meeting. He got in contact with all the pastors and students in the area, set up housing, food distribution, and accommodations for about 150 people who attended. Our seminar was from 10 AM to 4 PM Monday through Wednesday, including lunch and tea break.
The title of the seminary was Supernatural Living Through the Power of the Holy Spirit, but we tailor our messages for the needs of the local churches through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. People were blessed by the impartation, the presence, and the anointing of the Holy Spirit and leadership teaching. We were encouraged by the testimony of many pastors and students who came to thank us for this opportunity and to tell us how much they were inspired by the seminary and the presence of God. Last day we issued certifications to all pastors attending. These were received with much joy.
The nights were spent in evangelistic meetings. Those took place in a big tent, which was set up especially for those gatherings. Every night police surrounded the tent to discourage retaliation, but many people from the village did not come for fears of attacks. Nevertheless, The Spirit of God was not afraid of attacks and was present there. I was inspired by God to give the testimony of how a Hindi police officer, which I meet in India, came to Christ. The police officers outside the tent listened very careful and the next night came to talk to us on our way to the meeting. First came a chief of the local police and asked to pray for him as bad spirits, noises, disturbed his house and there was fear. He sought help from Muslim priests to no avail. I told him the solution for his problem is Jesus who can destroy the work of the devil; I explained him the Gospel and prayed for deliverance. After the meeting another police officer came. He had a tumor on his throat and wanted healing, as the doctors could not help him. I presented him Jesus who has the healing power and we came in agreement to trust Jesus and believe in a miracle. We left the results to God as we were departing the next day, and believe the presence of God was there to do the work he has promised us will do when we call upon him.
Wednesday afternoon we went to Gojra where we had our long time internet contact. He had joined us at the Seminary. In August a mob of 10,000 attacked the Christian community in Gojra, destroying over 100 homes, killing by burning 8 people (including children) and injuring many more. Through our contact we were able to visit the 3 houses of the most affected families. They were terrified by fear and the discrimination they had to face daily. The government started rebuilding some of the houses but for the families who lost the loved ones this was no consolation. We encouraged them to have faith in God, who can give comfort and by whom we can overcome anything that comes our way. We also reminded them of the hope we have that the dead are not dead but alive with Christ, and that one-day we will see them again in glory. Together with our condolences and comforting words we gave them some financial support.
We were then guided to the tent camp, which was set up for families who lost their homes, which were now in a slow rebuilding process sponsored by the government. It was night and chili outside and these families lived in tents with no real protection from the cold, no bathroom, no running water. The situation was heart breaking, and we felt the need to help somehow as we went from tent to tent. The news of us being there spread quickly and soon found ourselves surrounded by a large group of people. Because it was night and the crowds were pushing, just like they did in other times with Jesus, we together with our host felt this could quickly become a problem. The best solution was to leave quickly before any trouble escalated. We left with the pain of these people deeply imprinted on our hearts.
From Borja we headed toward Youngsonabad where FCBC has a children school for about 400 students. They also provide housing, food, and clothing for 40 orphans. As we arrived there at midnight we were exhausted spiritually and physically but God rejuvenated us the next day through the excitement of the children as they filled up the schoolyard, and they prayed and sang together. Somehow their innocence contrasted so much with the dullness, fear, and evil we had experienced the previous night. After speaking to the students we spent a blessed time with the founder of the school, Rev. Nathaniel Barkat who shared with us many testimonies of how God has worked in his life. Despite the persecution and discrimination that runs rampant in that country we could see the rivers of living water flowing out of his love for Jesus Christ.
After being strengthen and encouraged by such a man of God we headed back to Lahore and from there to Abu Dhabi which is a city close to Dubai, UAE. God prompted on old contact from India to tell us he is in Dubai and invited us to have fellowship with some of the churches in Dubai. There we attended a house meeting of about 30 people, where we saw the glory of God come on the faces of the congregation. It was yet another way God was strengthening us after an exhausting trip. Besides great buildings built by men, in Dubai God has built a powerful church, made of great men and women. We also shared the word of God at Emirates Christian Pentecostal Church where we connected spiritually with our Indian brothers and sisters in Christ.
Even though this mission trip required great sacrifice, great physical effort, and difficult spiritual warfare, now looking back we are thankful for what God has done through our weak vessels. Instead of being discouraged and ungrateful we have a great spiritual joy and fulfillment. This mission trip changed and revolutionized our life and brought spiritual vitality that will help us to live the spiritual life to the fullest. We experienced the power of God in the name of Jesus just like the disciples experienced in Luke chapter 10. We thank God who gave us the opportunity to minister in this hostile environment as lambs among wolfs, and for the work he did among the people of Pakistan. This reenergized both our and their commitment to live ready to go where the Lord will send us and to do what he wants us to do. We want to encourage you to live a life with passion for souls and to lead other to spiritual life.