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Right: The Railway Church in Lahore, which is more than 100 years old. Built in 1899 by the British for Christian employees of the railway, the church has been used since 1947 as a community hall for Muslims. The Pakistan Baptist Convention is negotiating a lease for the property.

for his opposition to the country’s blasphemy laws, and for his supposed support of Bibi. On March 2, 2011, Shahbaz Bhatti, the government minister

for religious minorities, and an advocate for reform of the blasphemy laws, was murdered by three men in Islamabad. Bhatti was the only Christian in Pakistan’s cabinet. Nongovernmental organizations in Pakistan report that since 1986, when blasphemy laws were fi rst introduced in Pakistan by then President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, more than 1,060 people – at least 456 Ahmadis, 449 Muslims, 134 Christians and 21 Hindus – have been accused of breaking these laws.

Christian Witness Continues Despite these risks, Christians, including Baptists, are taking

a fi rm stand by worshipping, organizing, and helping to meet humanitarian needs. Baptists in Pakistan are attempting to gain possession of a church built in 1899 for Christian railway workers that has been used since 1947 as a community hall for Muslims. Beginning in 2001, Baptists have been negotiating for the return of the church for Christian use. Pakistan’s railway company decided in October 2011 to lease the property to the Baptists, but the Baptists are having diffi culty coming up with funds for the lease.

The Pakistan Baptist Convention (PBC), the group negotiating with the railway company for the church building, met on November 29 and elected its board of offi cers, including the

situation was tense. The Muslim mob attack left deep scars of insecurity in the minds of Sonia and the other children. “It was so painful to leave the house. I spent my childhood there, with so many memories, but we had to leave.” After her mother’s arrest, the big re- sponsibility of three younger brothers and two sisters fell on Sonia’s shoulders. She took care of her younger siblings like a mother. The tragedy made her strong even at such a young age.

“I have not seen my mother for the past one and a half years. I miss my mother a lot. She is not just my mother but also my friend. I shared all my worries with her but now I am alone and no one can take me in their lap as my mother did. It was so beautiful. I forget all my worries in my mother’s lap.”

Sonia Gets Married

Sonia’s father was very much concerned about his children. As Sonia was the eldest, he decided she should get married. Sonia did not fi nd this acceptable but she obeyed her father. Her father found her match in Lahore. She did not know her bridegroom and did not even see him before the wedding. Sonia’s dreams remain dry and her hopes remain unfulfi lled. Sonia went into marriage without enjoying her childhood and teenage years.

I attended her wedding ceremony on May 8, 2011. I helped her shop for her wedding. Marriage was a bittersweet event for Sonia because her mother was not with her; she was missing her mother a lot. When I asked her why she did not reject her father’s plans for her to get married, her reply suggested that Sonia, being a positions of president, vice president, general secretary and legal offi cer. “We are called to follow the Good Shepherd,” and are urged “to care and pastor others with excellence and fortitude,” a report from the meeting reads. Efforts at registering the convention have met roadblocks.

The legal advocate told “board members that he is facing problems to get registration as a church because the Pakistani government is not [accepting] new applications for church registration.” The (Continued on next page)

Facing page: Sonia, second left, with her younger siblings

Left: Sonia with her father, Munir Masih respectable girl, decided to sacrifi ce herself for her father.

“Once I thought of refusing because of my mother’s imprisonment, but I know my father is already in pain. He suffered a lot and he is still suffering and I don’t want to disappoint him. I believe he wants the best for me and I really respect his decision for me.”

She further stated, “I am intensely concerned about my mother’s life, especially when I hear how increasingly dangerous it is for those who are accused of blasphemy.”

She has plans to visit her mother in prison with her husband. She does not want to conceal her marriage from her mother any more. Samuel Ahsan is executive director of Save & Serve For Christ Ministries in Lahore, Pakistan


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