CHRISTIANS IN PAKISTAN NEED YOUR PRAYERS AND SUPPORT THIS CHRISTMAS

Christmas is a time to celebrate with our family and loved ones – and, as Christians, we give thanks for the birth of Jesus.

Of course, this Christmas will be different because of the pandemic, so we will be celebrating in ways that break with tradition. However, we can still give gifts that bring hope and joy – we can even help to save lives in the world’s poorest communities.

In Pakistan, many Christians live in poverty and suffer because of their faith. And, recently, we have received some extraordinary requests for help – so this year, in particular, we don’t want anyone go without food or to feel they have been forgotten.

Every year, with your help, CLAAS distributes food and gift packages to hundreds of brick kiln workers who trapped in bonded labour and their families. In addition, we deliver food packages to Christians who are in prison facing false blasphemy charges, while also supporting their families. So, once again, we invite you to help us make this happen.

This Christmas, with your donations, CLAAS will be distributing 300 family care packages – containing rice, flour, sugar, cooking oil, lentils, teabags and noodles. We will also distribute over 600 children’s packs – containing dried fruit, sweets, Christian story/colouring books and pencils, and, hopefully, a cardigan (it can be very cold at night). The more you give, the more we can distribute.

But with your prayers and donations to CLAAS, there is hope.

Meanwhile, I want to share some good news. In October this year, Sawan Masih was acquitted by a judge after seven years in prison, having been falsely accused of blasphemy by a Muslim friend.

In 2013, when news spread that Sawan had been accused, a mob of 3,000 Muslims attacked Sawan’s community of Joseph Colony, Lahore. The mob looted and torched Christian homes, shops and churches, while the police stood idle. Hundreds of Christians fled the area after the mob threatened to burn them alive. Sawan had been accused of blasphemy by local businessmen who wanted to seize the area for industrial use.

Over the years, Sawan endured dozens of court hearings, even facing the death sentence, and his family went into hiding. CLAAS stood by, providing free legal aid and financial support. Finally, our prayers were answered. On 6 October, Lahore High Court ruled that Sawan Masih was innocent.

Sawan is now free and will be celebrating Christmas with his family for the first time in seven years.  However, many others remain in prison falsely accused of blasphemy. Pastor Zafar Bhatti has been in prison since 2012, while Imran, Amoon and Qaisar have been on death row since 2009.

CLAAS is also concerned about an increase in cases of abduction and forced conversion of underage Christian girls in Pakistan. Sania Masih (not her real name), aged 14, was recently reunited with her family after being kidnapped while walking home from school. A young Muslim pushed her into a side street, where she was bundled into a car and driven to an unknown location where she was beaten and raped by a gang of men. The men kept Sania for days, forcing her to sign marriage and religious conversion certificates. CLAAS stepped in, supporting Sania’s family as they contacted the police, and Sania was eventually found and reunited with her family. This story ended well, but CLAAS continues to campaign for change and will not stop until Christian girls no longer face such horrors. It is your support that enables us to campaign about this issue and support these girls where we can.

Please remember the people of Pakistan this Christmas. Please pray for Christians who face persecution: bonded labour, false blasphemy charges, abduction, forced conversion.

With your help we can provide support. And, in particular, we can provide packages of food and clothing this Christmas that will bring joy into the lives of hundreds of families – and be a reminder to them that they are not forgotten.

Happy Christmas.

Nasir Saeed, Director, CLAAS-UK

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