How A Brave Pakistani Taught Me to Stop Whining

by | Aug 11, 2009 | Blogs, Fire in My Bones




Spending time last week with a persecuted Christian brother ruined me forever.

I can’t reveal my new Pakistani friend’s name, even though he gave me permission to use it. I could never live with myself if he died because of something I wrote, but he wants the world to know his amazing story. So I’ll just call him Saleem.

I met this young church leader last weekend during a missions conference in a northeastern state. The same day we met, Islamic radicals were burning Christian houses to the ground in Gojra, an area not far from Saleem’s city. So far, the body count in Gojra has been estimated to be as high as 20, and 19 others were injured when masked militants associated with the Taliban attacked a peaceful Christian settlement.

“Islamic militants are upset because Christianity is growing more rapidly in Pakistan than anyone in government will admit.”

Last week’s violence flared after a Christian was accused of desecrating a copy of the Quran. One of Saleem’s friends was severely wounded. This happens often in Pakistan, where so-called blasphemy laws make it a capital offense to tear a page of the Islamic holy book or to insult the name of Muhammad. Right now, a 4-year-old girl is waiting in a prison cell to be executed for damaging a Quran.

“The Muslims hate us,” Saleem told me. “But Christians are protesting the Islamic violence. We are peaceful.”

Saleem lifted up his sleeve and showed me two scars near his elbow and wrist. They mark where a bullet passed through one end of his arm to the other when Islamic militants shot him in the city of Lahore in 2005. If you take a close look at Saleem’s scalp, under his thick black hair, you will find many scars from where he was beaten on the head with sticks.

“Many members of my church have been put in jail because of these ‘blasphemy’ laws,” Saleem said—noting that the charges were false. Saleem receives untraceable text messages almost every day from Taliban members threatening to kill him.

Islamic militants are upset because Christianity is growing more rapidly in Pakistan than anyone in government will admit. Official statistics say Pakistan is 2 percent Christian. Saleem claims the figure is much higher. He says many former Muslims won’t state their religion in surveys because they fear reprisals from radical Islamists-and because Christians are denied jobs and forced to live in ghettos.

Although Saleem leads a network of 900 house churches in his city (with an average membership of 200 each), he is not a wealthy man. He and his wife and son share a small house with six other family members. There are bullet holes in their front gate. They keep a water buffalo nearby and sell its milk to make extra money.

Miracles have followed this young pastor, who began directing his church network in 1997. In May 2008, a Muslim man brought his dead 6-year-old son to an evangelistic meeting. Said Saleem: “I saw the fire of God on that child and he was revived. It was the presence of God. It wasn’t me. The doctor stood in the meeting and gave a report. He said the child had been dead.”

In most of Saleem’s outdoor meetings, up to 80 percent of the audience is Muslim. Huge numbers of them are converted to Christ when they see displays of God’s miracle power. “We have seen blind eyes opened, the paralyzed walk, deaf ears opened,” he said. “We see people get out of wheelchairs. We see many miracles in Jesus’ name.”

Saleem added that Presbyterian Christians in his country are totally open to the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit: “The Presbyterians speak in tongues. They believe in miracles. They believe that without the Holy Spirit we cannot preach and teach.”

It is one thing to read about persecuted Christians. It was quite another experience to eat several meals with this brother, listen to him pray in Urdu and look at the brand marks on his body. Two days with Saleem forced me to do a reality check.

I realized I’ve been complaining in my heart in recent days about trivial things—the price of gasoline, the sour economy and the slowness of some Internet connections. Now I feel ridiculous. I’ve repented for my ungrateful attitude. I’m going to start each day remembering Saleem and the millions like him who suffer joyfully for Christ.

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma. You can find him on Twitter at leegrady. If you would like to help Saleem rescue children from forced labor in Pakistan’s factories, send tax-deductible donations to Christian Life Missions here.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

The Church Revived: 3 Keys to the Emerging Move of God

The Church Revived: 3 Keys to the Emerging Move of God

During the past two years, I believe the church at large has been in a season of returning to God. Repentance is crucial when it comes to revival. Scripture shows a clear pattern that repentance precedes the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (see Joel 2:12-28 and Acts...

How Divine Wrestling Changes Our Identity

How Divine Wrestling Changes Our Identity

All of us at some point will hit a place of getting the wind knocked out of us. We all experience unexpected detours and times when there seems to be no way out. But there is One who lives in us, the Lord Jesus Christ, who gives us the strength to overcome obstacles....

Spirit-Filled Pastor: How Does God Lead Us Today?

Spirit-Filled Pastor: How Does God Lead Us Today?

Whether it is the Spirit leading or forbidding in the book of Acts, or the Spirit leading throughout Christian history, it’s clear that the leading of the Spirit is important. In the Old Testament, it appears that the Spirit of God could be withdrawn completely from...

Joyce Meyer: Keys to Winning Your Race in Life

Joyce Meyer: Keys to Winning Your Race in Life

Everyone has a race to run. That just means we all have a life to live. The apostle Paul says in Hebrews 12:1 (NIV), “Therefore...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for...

Prophetic Word: The Lord Says, ‘I Am the Consuming Fire’

Prophetic Word: The Lord Says, ‘I Am the Consuming Fire’

God says that during this season, He is turning up the heat, finding the gold and bringing His refining fire. Job makes a powerful statement of faith as he says of the Lord, "When he has tried me, I shall come out as gold." God knew Job's heart and Job knew the heart...

What Is ‘The One Thing’ God Wants From You?

What Is ‘The One Thing’ God Wants From You?

In 1971, I was invited to spend one month in Singapore at a new institute that had been started by John Haggai. It was still in the formative stages then—a place where Asian church leaders would be trained and challenged to witness for Christ. Today, more than 40...

RECENT ARTICLES

Bill Johnson: Reformers Are Arising to Transform Our World for Christ

Throughout history, reformers have lived with the conviction of the superiority of the gospel of Jesus Christ to transform individual lives, communities, and ultimately, nations. Recently I had the...
37 Prayers for the Suffering Persecuted Church

37 Prayers for the Suffering Persecuted Church

It was a Pentecost bloodbath and most Christians never heard about it. More than 50 Christians were killed in one of the deadliest terror attacks on Nigerians this year. Scores of gunmen rushed in to kill Christians in the midst of worship. All told, over 360 million...

The United States: Birthed in Prophetic Symbolism

The United States: Birthed in Prophetic Symbolism

One of the most amazing facts about the Founding Fathers of our nation is this: The one referred to as the "voice" of the revolution (John Adams) and the one referred to as the "pen" of the revolution (Thomas Jefferson) both died on the same day—July 4, 1826—exactly...

Why Did God Give ‘This’ to Me?

Why Did God Give ‘This’ to Me?

It’s a question I frequently hear. It’s one I’ve asked. And maybe it’s one you’ve asked, too. The question is, “God, why did You give this to me?” This can be any number of issues, from emotional or psychological struggles to symptoms or sicknesses, disabilities or...

No Evil Can Stop What God Has Planned

No Evil Can Stop What God Has Planned

I sense it. And I perceive a growing number of people in massive proportions sense the increasing momentum of power and might worldwide. Something is on the horizon—something more eerie and ominous than what the people of the world have ever before experienced. Even...

Pin It on Pinterest