Pakistan Christian Loses Livelihood, Relatives for Leaving Islam

Pakistan Christian Loses Livelihood, Relatives for Leaving Islam
10:00AM EST 12/9/2011 Compass Direct News

When Malik Pauloos of Bhakkar district, Punjab Province finally decided to trust a close relative with the secret that he had left Islam for Christianity, there was no question in his relative’s mind that Pauloos’ relationship with the family was over.

The family had been custodians of an Islamic shrine, the Pir Syed Karamat Shah in Kot Islam, for three generations. Though Pauloos had moved to Karachi, the capital of Sindh Province, 20 years ago to start a scrap business, he had continued fulfilling his duty to prepare the shrine for annual pilgrimages. But after he withdrew from it over time upon his conversion, shrine leaders were asking pointed questions about his adherence to Islam.

“I told him [the relative] to get the shrine people off my back, because I did not want to keep any point of contact with my past life,” Pauloos, 36, told Compass. “Although shocked, my relative said that he would first try and make my family understand the situation, and then they could figure out a way of letting me walk away peacefully.”

Pauloos did not realize that, beyond disowning him, his family would file a police complaint against him because—as a murtad or apostate deserving death—he was said to have committed “blasphemy.” With authorities’ help, family members are trying to track him down, he said.

Days before his baptism in September, a Pashtun scrap dealer heard about his conversion. A couple of Christians the dealer and Pauloos knew were sitting at the dealer’s shop when they started discussing the United States, whose relations with Pakistan have hit new lows in the past few months.

“The Pashtun man proudly claimed that many Americans were converting to Islam, but he was in for a big surprise when the Christians told him that I, a [formerly] devout Muslim, have been actively participating in church activities and had recently converted,” Pauloos said.

The Pashtun trader immediately conveyed the information to Pauloos’ family, and he received a call from one of his cousins, an engineer, who asked him to return to Punjab and explain.

“I told him I could not come back because of my business in Karachi, but he kept insisting that I should return to Bhakkar and deny reports that I had converted,” Pauloos said. “He then started threatening me that if I didn’t return home within three days, they would spread the news and even put the police after me on blasphemy charges. I told him that the threats were meaningless to me. He put down the phone, but before doing so he said that I would be responsible for the consequences.”

The next day his father put up a notice in local newspapers disowning him, he said.

“I called my cousin and told him that now that they had disowned me, they should know that I had indeed become a Christian and would not renounce Christ even if they killed me,” he said.

Pauloos said that he left his business last month and came to Punjab, where he has been traveling from one city to another sharing his experience of Christ.

Baptized in September after spending more than 10 years learning about the Christian faith, Pauloos said he does not regret trusting in Christ as Savior even though he has lost a comfortable life and a successful business and his Muslim family and friends are in hot pursuit to “kill the apostate.”

Family members had begun to grow suspicious when they heard that he was regularly seen in the company of Christian pastors and was avoiding the Islamic shrine and its spiritual head, Baba Raees.

“In fact, Raees had also expressed concern over my lack of interest in the shrine’s activities over the years and had asked one of my cousins to investigate why I wasn’t taking his calls,” Pauloos said. “Fearing that my disclosure would imperil the lives of all Christians connected with me, I told my family that I was keeping contact with the Christians to understand their faith, and that this was merely an education for me. I did not want my family to know that I had lost confidence in Islam and wanted to walk away from the faith of my elders.”

In an attempt to dispel the impression that he had become “murtad,” he visited the shrine one final time in 2010.

“Raees and other people made repeated attempts to judge whether I was still a Muslim or had renounced my faith, but I gave them the same reason that I had given to my family,” he said. “In September this year, I got baptized in Faisalabad. The whole affair was kept a secret because of the security situation in Pakistan.”

A relative told him that his family and Muslims associated with the shrine were using their influence to send the police after him, he said.

“They have publicly announced that I would have to pay for my ‘crime,’ but even death will not deter me from giving up my Christian walk,” he said.

When he told his Christian friends of the threats on his life, many suggested that he relocate to another country, he said, but he told them he would neither leave Pakistan nor yield to the demands of hostile Muslims.

“I will serve the Lord in my country even if it means putting my life on the line,” he said.

Haunted Journey
Stories abound of Muslims coming to Christ through dreams, but Pauloos’ journey began with nightmares.

They began haunting him in 2000, and his health deteriorated as he tried all possible remedies. Increasingly going without sleep, his condition worsened as he spent several nights fearing his nightmares might turn into reality. One day he shared his problem with a Christian acquaintance, who suggested that he visit a pastor and request prayer.

“I went to meet the pastor in Karachi and shared my problem with him,” he said. “He listened intently and then prayed for me. Before he started praying, he asked me if I had faith that Christ could help me. As Muslims, we hold Jesus Christ in high esteem as a prophet and also believe that He performed miracles. I said yes, and the pastor started praying. As he was praying, I felt as if someone was brushing off the dirt from me … I started breathing!”

Before he left, the pastor, whose name is withheld for security reasons, shared some verses of the Bible with him.

“He told me things about Christ that I had never heard or read before and said that I could come visit him whenever I needed help,” he said, adding that he went to the pastor two or three more times for prayer, and his condition began to improve.

Pauloos said that he did not have any nightmares for a year.

“In 2001, I again started suffering from the dreaded nightmares and shared this with the pastor,” he said. “He invited me to his church. It was the first time I had participated in any Christian worship. His congregation welcomed me warmly and gave me immense respect. Then they all prayed for ‘their Muslim brother,’ and this gesture further attracted me toward Christ.”

Increasing contact with the Christians left him “greatly inspired,” he said, and when he found himself on a road in Haripur to meet with an uncle who had been in an accident in northwest Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, he felt himself drawn to a small church building, he said.

“As if on cue, my feet started heading towards that direction,” he said. “I met the church’s pastor and shared with him my experiences in Karachi.”

The pastor, whose name is withheld for security reasons, gave him his first Bible, he said, and he attended his church service a few times.

“But then word about this spread in the city, and the pastor requested I stop going there, because it could endanger the lives of Christians living in the area,” Pauloos said. “He apologized for having to ask me to stop, but I told him that I understood the consequences the congregation would have to face and left the city after a few days.”

Back in Karachi, Pauloos said he started reading the Bible regularly and, in order to better understand it, also initiated contacts with other pastors. He recalled one pastor, whose name is withheld for security reasons, who came from the same caste as his.

“He offered a special prayer for me, asking God to guide me as I searched for the truth,” Pauloos said.

He said that in June, he traveled to Iran and Armenia on business, carrying his Bible the whole time.

“In Tehran I strongly felt that the time had come for me to get water baptism and start a new life in Christ,” he said. “I decided that I would take water baptism as soon as I got back.”

Evangelism Principle #7

The seventh and last (for now) evangelism principle is to remember that we need to disciple, nurture, and assimilate new believers into the church. It is more than getting someone saved and birthed into the Kingdom of God – it involves feeding them, burping them, and even changing their diapers as they grow from babes in Christ into mature believers.

When you lead someone to the Lord it is your task to now follow-up on their decision to be a follower and disciple of the Lord. Follow-up is the process of establishing a believer in the faith. It is a process and not just an event. We never arrive and finish our follow-up. Secondly, the person being followed up may or may not be a new believer. I know that sounds strange – but there are a lot of people sitting in the Sunday assembly who have never effectively been followed up.

There are three different kinds of follow-up. First, immediate follow-up, secondly, weekly follow-up. Thirdly, long-term follow-up.

Immediate follow-up takes place immediately upon a person receiving Christ as Lord and Savior. The primary goal with immediate follow-up is assurance. The new believer needs to have an assurance of God’s love and an assurance of his or her salvation in Christ Jesus.

Weekly follow-up begins upon establishing that the person has an assurance of their salvation. This is a period of so many weeks where you meet with the new convert and have specific goals you are working towards.

1> The first goal is to work with the new believer so that they know what it means to be born again and have “Christ in them, the hope of glory.” And, to help them discover what it means to be “in Christ.”

2> The second goal of these weekly meetings is to help the new believer develop a consistent personal devotional life – learning the basics of how to feed and breath on their own as new disciples of the Lord. This includes how to pray, how to read and study the Bible, personal worship, community life and evangelism.

3> The third goal of weekly follow-up is to help the new believer to understand some of the basics of the Christian life. Here you help them find the answers to any questions they may have; deal with doubts being expressed; handle life-issues with them as they arise.

4> The fourth goal is to help integrate the new believer into the life of the local church. This means helping the person reach the point where they know they belong and they feel that they are a vital contributing part (member) of the ongoing life of the church they are attending.

Then we enter the stage known as long-term follow-up which takes place over a period of months and years. This is really more the process of discipleship – training – equipping – and mentoring.

So, when we bring someone to the Lord we are making a serious commitment to the Lord and to them to walk long-term with them and to make committed disciples of Jesus Christ and not just inspiration junkies.

Evangelism Principle #6

The sixth principle of effective evangelism is that EVANGELISM MOVES FORWARD AS GOD’S PEOPLE GET INVOLVED IN MINISTRY AND SERVICE.

This happens when the local church understands that evangelism is why we are here and that the only real task of the Church that Jesus is building is to seek and save the lost as He did and as He commands us to do as we “go into all our world…” As a local church this needs to become part of the very DNA or life-flow of the church and every activity of the assembly – weekdays and weekends. Every event and activity needs to have an evangelistic element connected to it so that the corporate body of Christ is always being confronted with and reminded of the need to evangelize.

This means the local church needs to get organized. Prayer needs to be planned and carried out regularly – prayer for both the lost and for all of the disciples in the local church as everyone is called to be a laborer in the harvest field. Secondly, the members of the Body need to be trained to share their faith and share it well – including how to present the message of the Gospel in a way that makes sense to the lost. Thirdly, every event needs to have an evangelistic element to it. Holding a women’s retreat then invite unbelievers. Having a Christmas dinner at the church – invite unsaved family, friends and loved ones. Going ice fishing – ask non-believers to come along and share in the fun.

Evangelism must be intentional and interwoven with all aspects of the life of the local church. It must be planned and always be on the minds of members. Remember, this is the true work of the Church and so we need to make sure that seeking and saving the lost is part of the foundation of every church and that it is literally part of the DNA and very life and nature of the local assembly. Every member of the body needs to be involved and everyone needs to be on a team that allows them to play to their strength and work together with others to see the lost won.

Jesus talks about following Him and becoming fishers of men. In His day they fished as a team and used nets to draw in a large number of fish each time. This is a good picture of an evangelistically active local church with everyone manning the nets and pulling together as team to bring the fish (new converts) into the boat (church). Yes, we can go fishing with a hook and a line by ourselves but fishing must also always be part of the corporate life of the local church.

Evangelism Principle #5

The fifth principle I want to look at so that we can be effective in our evangelism efforts is BEING A GOOD WITNESS MEANS PASSIONATELY PURSUING THE LOST IN LOVE. This is seriously needed in the church today. It is missing in the hearts and thus lives of many who call themselves believers. Jesus has called us to take His message to the world regardless of the cost to us personally. And, it will cost us because we are taking the Gospel to a lost and at times hostile world.

Being a good witness – salt and light to and in the world – means passionately pursuing the lost in love and being intimately involved with people – involved in their lives on a regular and frequent basis. It means loving people even when they are anything but lovable. It means accepting them as they are – warts and all – the good, the bad and the ugly. It means forgiving them when they disappoint you or hurt you. It means being there for them when there is little for you in the relationship. It means not expecting them to live as believers – because they are not yet followers of Jesus Chrit.

You first witness with your life – the way you live and present yourself to others. Your values; your attitude; your lifestyle; the way you handle and value relationships; your goals in life; your use of your money …

Secondly you witness with your words – and your words often speak much louder than your actions. Words must be spoken in love and never in anger. You must be consistent in the way you speak and express yourself. People can quickly spot a phoney.

Thirdly – you have a corporate witness through your involvement in the ongoing life and witness of your local church. The love that we show one another is a form of witness to the lost world. Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

So, passionately pursuing the lost is something we must do INTENTIONALLY as it never happens by accident. We must be aware that stepping out of your front door is entering into the mission field. We must understand that we are in many ways “missionaries” in a foreign culture that does not know Jesus. We must live a lifestyle that is flexible and allows time for people. Everything we do must be planned and thought through as to how it might reach, touch or impact that lost person we are about to come into contact with. Thus we are actively and passionately pursuing the lost.

Evangelism Principle #4

The fourth principle of evangelism (we started this series while I was in Russia – see blogs the last week in November or go to the main web page and look up resources/evangelism)… is EVANGELISM IS MORE SPIRITUAL THAN METHODOLOGICAL.

This means it is important to take care of your own spiritual life and be actually abiding in Christ as John 15 states. Then we can bear fruit, much fruit and eternal fruit. We must come to the Source of life daily and drink deeply of the living waters He offers freely or else we will not have the rivers of living waters flowing from our inner being for others to drink from as we evangelize. Jesus says we must come to Him and drink (John 7:37)

It is amazing how when we are thirsty we often go to many other places to try and satisfy the thirst that only Jesus can satisfy. As a result we do not drink deeply of the life that He offers us and then our passion for His purpose slowly dies and we find ourselves no longer seeking and saving the lost or even thinking about doing so.

Not only does Jesus say come to Him and drink (John 7:37) but He states that we must keep coming to the Source of living waters. The verb tense is present imperative and so is a continuous action command. “Keep coming. Keep drinking from the Source!” We know from John 4 that this living water is Jesus Himself. In John 7 He links the living water to the Holy Spirit in you – flowing out of you and touching others (evangelism).

Once we drink daily of this living water then we have an ample supply for all others that would care to come and drink – to “taste and see how good the Lord is.” I have discovered the following:

1> The flow of living water is available to “whoever believes” and so is all-inclusive and not just for those who are gifted in the area of sharing their faith and evangelism.

2> There is an inexhaustible source of living water available. The rivers Jesus speaks of could be translated “floods” or “torrents.” So, there is always enough and you will never run out – like Niagara Falls there is always more water coming down the river. God has all we need to do all that He asks us to do – win the world for Jesus.

3> The living water is alive! In Israel during Jesus’ time there were three sources of water – well water which was good water but limited and hard work to bring to the surface. Cistern water which was often dirty and stagnant. But the third main source was water that came from the underground springs and it was literally known as living water. This water is alive with oxygen. It is cool, flowing and refreshing. It is the best source of water.

So, if we abide in Him and His Word abides in us (John 15) we will have these rivers of living waters flowing from us because we have been Baptized in the Holy Spirit. This water is available to everyone who has received the Baptism, it is abundant and it is life giving.

Last but not least – 4> The living water will flow from our innermost being. This means that because the Holy Spirit lives within you there is a divine restlessness that is never satisfied until it is given full freedom of expression by flowing forth to a lost world.

So, guard your spiritual life and your walk with Jesus because evangelism is more spiritual than methodological.

Spiritual Fathers

Paul writes to the Church in Corinth, “For even if you had ten thousand others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spiritual father. For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you.” (1 Corinthians 4:15). Today we have the same situation – many teachers and few spiritual fathers.

Pictured above is Anatoli – one of many young men whom I am a spiritual father to – and, in some cases, I am a substitute physical father because many do not know their father or do not have a good example of a father to follow after. Every nation I work in – including in North America – I find fatherless young men who need the love and care of a spiritual father. I am honored to be such a father to many of them and spend numerous hours daily corresponding with them and even meeting with them in person and on Skype. This is what apostles are suppose to do!

Here is what I hear in every nation I work in, “Where can I find such a man?” If they are apostles-in-training and have a recognized call I let them know I am willing to help in any way that I can. But, if they are simply disciples looking for a mentor or one of the other five-fold ministry callings – I have to tell them that they need to seek someone out (not me) no matter how hard that may be and then ask that person to be their mentor. As well, I tell them that they need to be willing to invest the time, effort, and money in being mentored. I am now at the point where I need to limit my mentoring to those who are called to be apostles (and a few others I have already entered into a mentoring relationship with) as there are simply too many otherwise (as the backlog of 600+ emails indicates).

I have to admit to those asking that mentors are hard to find. Even more so, apostles willing to be spiritual fathers are hard to find. Why? Because it takes a lot of time and much involvement in the lives of others. It involves personal and professional investment in another person’s life. It is emotionally tiring at times and certainly can absorb a lot of time. Add to that the need to write (and translate) material for these hungry disciples as well as meet with them one-on-one on a regular basis when possible and you have a large investment with no financial return. In fact, it costs mentors money to mentor as we often give away resources as well as pay the way (transport, food and lodging)of those being mentored so that they can meet with us.

True spiritual fathers are willing to do just this – invest in the lives of the next generation. Regretfully there seem to be few willing to do this. And so those needing spiritual fathers cannot and are not finding them. it is reaching crisis proportions as more and more young men are being called into this ministry and are looking for quality men to father them. his is an area for focused prayer.

What Every Disciple Needs

Every disciple of the Lord needs to have two key people in their lives.

First, they need someone who is helping them to grow and mature as a believer and follower of the Lord. There are four stages of growth – discipling, training, equipping and mentoring. Every disciple, regardless of the stage, needs to find someone to help them grow. You need to find someone and enter into a covenant with them where you will meet with them and they can guide and direct you in your walk with Jesus. It is possible to have more than one “mentor” at a time – but everyone needs at least one. Read more

Jenya from Almaty

Thank you very muchfor your teachings on DVD’s and mp3’s. I discovered many thing for myself through your teachings. In my heart I knew who I am supposed to be but now I found a confirmation. After receiving prophetic words over my life I was really encouraged as I got an understanding that I walk the right way. Thank you for your prayers. I look forward to meeting you again.

All blessings to you in this very needed teachings in the Body of Christ!

The Cornerstone of Our Faith

The cornerstone of the Christian faith is that the power of Christ so transforms a person that he or she begins acting Christlike. That is what a Christian is – a person who thinks and lives in the likeness of his or her Lord, Jesus Christ. Paul states this in 2 Corinthians 5:21 when he wrote (the Holy Spirit said), “Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence.” (God’s Word Translation)

But this is not the case in most churches. For example, research shows that 98% of professed born-again young people do “believe in Christ” but they do not reflect Christlike attitudes or actions. So, why does Christianity seem to make so little difference in the lives of people who say they are believers? Is it because they are not attending enough church services and Christian events or that there are not enough seminars and resources available in the form of books, training, or curriculum to teach them the truth about Christianity? Not at all!

A researcher states, “Nothing is more numbing to the Church than the fact that it is mired in a rut of smilingly unfathomable depths. The various creative approaches attempted over the course of the last decade have drawn much attention but produced little, if any, transformational impact…although many people attend a Church few …are committed to being the Church.” (emphasis his)

The issue is not resources or good teachings – these abound in most nations and with the internet they are becoming more and more available to the majority of believers. The shocking answer is that the majority of church attendees have not been transformed by the power of God. The majority of church people do not appear to understand who the true God is nor the true meaning of Christianity. It is evident that the Church and Christian families are failing to lead people into a transforming experience with God!

The Church that Jesus is building will rectify this situation. Man’s church has been geared to spreading information. The true Church Jesus is building is wanting transformation and not just the spreading of more information. No longer will the target be people’s heads but the new breed of apostles and teachers will be teaching to touch the heart. No longer will words and catchy stories, acrostics and memorable phrases be enough – the new Church will impart life when the Word is taught and it will bring immediate change to those who have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying.

Truly we are entering into a wonderful new season in the Church when we will see life – God’s life – being encountered by true disciples within the Sunday assemblies and lives being changed. Those who are not following the Lord and state they are believers but are truly not disciples but simply holding to an outward form of our religion will be readily seen as they will not be responding to this life; there will be no change in their lives. These we will need to evangelize. True disciples will grow and change and will be evident for all to see.

It is time for people to encounter the living God and then to daily experience His presence and power as they walk with Him. The churches Jesus is building will be leading the way in this revolutionary new revelatory approach to ministry and the Word.

Engaging the Culture – Part Two

Last time we were talking about the need to engage the culture and build relationships with those that we are wanting to reach for Jesus today. As we do this we have a great need for a lot of patience. We may want an instant or microwave result and see the local church grow quickly as our evangelistic efforts bear much fruit. But, this is seldom the case. Much time, effort, energy, and prayer must first go into building solid and healthy relationships with people and with the community before we will see any return on our investment. Read more