Building on generations

Leah Paxton | Pakistan

Saif* and Asma* have been working in one Pakistan province for over 10 years, desiring to see vibrant communities of Jesus followers among the least reached. In their first year, they had a goal of seeing six people come to know the Lord. At the end of the year, no one had accepted Christ. The next year they had the same goal, and, again, nothing. “But in the third year, God gave us one man who was baptised and who accepted Jesus Christ,” Asma said. “After this, a family came to the Lord. So now, we have 10 home churches, and most of the people are believers. They are all from the majority background.”

As they began their work, Saif and Asma expended much energy and struggled to find people interested in knowing about Jesus’ love. They also lacked like-minded partners in their area who could help them reach out to Muslims. However, after attending a specific training related to their work of reaching local communities for Christ, they changed their approach. As a result, the couple saw three new second-generation groups form, as well as four more new groups start for those seeking to know about Jesus. Reaching the second generation was “a big surprise for us,” Asma said.

Now in a mentoring role for others, Saif and Asma remain involved by providing training to leaders, helping them resolve crisis situations and meeting with seekers to study the Bible. “We understand now what the home churches need to grow,” Saif said. In their regular activities, the two seek out ways to share the gospel and find people who want to know more about Christ.

Saif and Asma have charted these 10 home churches with members who came from a Muslim background. They also have one group from a Hindu background. These groups meet weekly and are led by local leaders. “So not only do we have 10 groups, we also have second-generation groups, and our other groups also have seekers’ groups,” Asma said.

Saif has not been able to find other people working among the Muslim community in his area. “Mostly people prefer to work among Hindus because that is easier. Hindus are also a minority community like [Christians] so that is not tough. Muslims are a majority community so that is more difficult.”

Saif's goal is to multiply workers. He desires to train locals to go into Muslim communities to share about Christ and see fellowships start. This will allow the work to continue when Saif is not able to visit.

“We have a hidden picture of the third generation of our work,” Saif said, pointing back to the chart, where he had marked seeker groups and a few select believers. “There are a few people, but there is not too much work among them. So in the near future, we hope we will reach to the third generation.”

Family of faith

One changed life Saif and Asma have seen is Osman*, a young man in a nearby community. He is a seeker and regularly reads from the Bible he kept hidden in his home.

One day, Osman saw his mother reading the Bible and became very fearful. He was afraid his mother would report him to the community. He feared facing threats or beatings if people became angry and aggressive towards him because he was reading the Bible. When his mother met him, she said, “You can read this secretly but don’t tell others.” At that time, he was happy that he could continue to read the Bible. After some days, his mother also regularly started studying the Bible.

When Osman told Saif that his mother was also reading the Bible, Saif arranged to give her a large-print Bible so it would be easier for her to read. Six months later, Osman’s mother found the truth. She recognised that Jesus was the way, the truth and the life. She accepted Jesus Christ as her Saviour. Later, Osman also became a believer.

One day, Osman’s uncle came to visit. He found Osman’s mother’s Bible and started reading it. He said to her, “This book is good for me, not for you.” So he took the Bible and left.

“Now he is reading the Bible as well,” Saif said, smiling. “God is working from one to another.”

Saif noticed a further change in Osman’s life as he continues to grow in faith. His daughter’s leg was broken in an accident. When Saif and Asma visited Osman’s home, they were amazed to find Osman’s copy of the New Testament in clear sight of his mother, wife, sisters and children. Before, Osman would read the Bible secretly. “Now, I read my New Testament in front of my kids and tell them it is a very precious book,” he said. His young son told him, “Papa, keep this book safe. When I become a big boy, I will also read it.” Osman’s wife is also reading the scriptures, though secretly, as she wants to show herself a devout Muslim. The day after their visit, Osman’s wife called Asma, asking her to pray for her daughter’s quick recovery. “We are praying for Osman’s wife,” Asma said, “that God will open her heart and she will come to the Lord, so that as a family they grow in faith.”

Praise God for how He is working in the families in Pakistan and establishing vibrant communities of Jesus followers among the least reached.

*Name changed for security.

Published: Thursday, 08 February 2018
Credit: Leah Paxton
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