From Palmy to Pakistan: a ministry of prayer and preaching

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Let me share what God is doing in the country of Pakistan. 

Pakistan is in the 10/40 window—home to the majority of the world’s least evangelised and unreached people groups, with limited or no access to Christian resources, churches or missionaries. There are often cultural, political or religious barriers that hinder the spread of the gospel.

Pakistan’s population is overwhelmingly Muslim, with less than 2 per cent being Christian. Christians suffer enormous persecution and discrimination in Pakistan, while working conditions for many Christians in Pakistan are deplorable. As a result of long embedded discriminatory practices that limit their prospects, about 80 per cent of Pakistan’s sanitation workers are Christian and they’re routinely exposed to a variety of unsafe and deadly work practices. They are trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty, oppression and servitude. 

For example, Pakistan has many brick kilns where labourers work long hours in the hot sun making bricks for a pittance. In these kilns, many Christians are trapped in a cycle of servitude that essentially equates to modern slavery. Already stricken by poverty, people take out loans or a cash advance to pay for basic needs like hospital fees or food items. In return, they are told they can work in the kilns until they are able to repay the amount borrowed. But they never make as much as they need, and the debts can never be paid back, so the Christians are trapped in perpetual poverty. This results in entire families being in debt and working endlessly in the kilns, which are often owned by influential politicians and their relatives.

God has opened an incredible door of opportunity in this challenging country. 

It was in the middle of 2022 that God sent someone upon my path who is a Christian living in Pakistan. 

He invited me to watch a local Sunday church service. I was able to watch live online and it was an incredible experience, watching these Christians worshipping God under the most terrible and awful circumstances. They sat on the floor in sweltering heat, in the most dilapidated rooms, but they had a joy that is so heartwarming to see. I was asked to say the closing prayer and I was deeply affected by this experience. I began to pray that God would help these poor Christians, not knowing He wanted to use me in a way I could have scarcely imagined. I was soon invited to take the service at a local church gathering, which I gladly accepted. 

These are Sunday-keeping Christians, and their church services are very simple and minimal. They begin with lots of singing and playing unique instruments native to Pakistan, followed by a gospel message. 

I preach and my Pakistani friend translates, and we have done many services all over Pakistan in the past year and-a-half. We normally have prayer services after the message and people come forward with so many prayer requests: from demon possession, to sickness, to marriage problems, and we pray and intercede over these precious souls. God has answered many prayers in Pakistan. 

The time difference between Pakistan and New Zealand means that often I’ve had to preach at 1am–3am. This is not always easy to do, but the blessing of God rests upon this work. My translator friend will go back to a specific place weeks after we have run a service there and record their testimonies—of how God has answered their prayers. I’ve been amazed at what I’ve heard and it really strengthens my faith in Jesus and shows me His power in very real and tangible ways. 

We have held services at the brick kilns, where we have given out food packages and Bibles. The people are so extremely grateful for the kindness and love shown to them. 

One Bible in a household in Pakistan makes such a big difference in bringing the light of God’s love to the people.  The light of God’s Word is enough to dispel the deep spiritual darkness that encompasses that land. 

We’ve handed out hundreds and hundreds of Bibles. We have also given children’s Bibles to various schools and raised funds for orphans to be able to go to school. The Palmerston North Central Adventist church has given very generously to the mission in Pakistan. If it weren’t for the generous donations of local members, then none of this would have been possible. We praise the Lord for moving upon the hearts of Adventists in Palmerston North to give towards the gospel mission in Pakistan. 

May you keep Pakistan in your prayers—that the gospel will go from strength to strength in that part of the 10/40 window.  

Justin Strauss is a pastor from Palmerston North in NZ.

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