In the sea of family members waiting for loved ones to arrive at the Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore Pakistan, I see a familiar face that I have known for over five months only thru pictures, email and phone calls. Pastor Shamshad holding his son Abraham, along with his wife and brother Pastor Shazard, greeted me. After expressions of hugs and exchange of traditional flowers, I was quickly shuffled into a car to begin a journey that changed my life forever.
The roads are dark, uneven and flooded due to the excessive down pour of rain earlier that day. The driver swerves to avoid the deep crevasses in the dirt road as if he is playing a private game of dodge ball. My spirit is at peace because God clearly stated, Ã¢â‚¬Å“For this assignment I am sending you alone, do not fear for it is not unto death. You have no choice but to go. If you choose not to follow this command anything you do will not manifestÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Pakistan is situated in southern Asia, bordered on the northeast by China, on the east by India, on the south by the Arabian Sea, on the southwest by Iran, and on the west Afghanistan. Although Pakistan has small populations of Hindus, Christians, and Buddhists, the vast majority of Pakistanis some 96% are Muslims.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed, we are perplexed, but not in despair Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ã¢â‚¬" 2 Corinthians 4:8
I was invited by the Senior Pastor Shamshad Luke, leader of the Gospel Ministry Villages in Pakistan where he teaches about 3,000 members within four locations. He started this ministry about eight years ago with his entire family - eight brothers, two sisters and his parents. The goal was a four city tour, two nights in each city where the word of the Lord and healing would go forth with stops in Lahore, Mandial, Sargodha, and Islamabad. As a Christian for more than 25 years, I have seen the power of God move in a mighty way but with all that I have learned, nothing could prepare me for what God was about to do.
Along with the rising of the sun to a chorus of roosters, we join in with full worship and prayer to prepare for each day. The first day I had the pleasure of meeting over 100 of the school children that attended the Vacation Bible School. Some walked as far as five miles to spend time in singing and learning more about the Lord. This Christian school was located in the heart of the Muslim community. Though the children spoke the language of Urdu, they enjoyed teaching me their native phrases as I taught them songs in English. With the use of a translator the experience was seamless for us all. The children in the village of Lahore were an array of beauty and happiness. Not bogged down by television or the latest hip hop artist, they spent their days singing and playing games. Within their eyes you can see the hope for a greater future for each other.
I will never forget one of the children that I met during my experience. The pastorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nephew Jarrod, a young boy about the age of 11, was more than happy to help me prepare for the evening services. Before I could make a request, water, polished shoes and professionally pressed garments waited in anticipation in my room. I was so moved by this level of servant hood that I decided to give him some American money, not much but enough that he and his twin brother could buy something for themselves. Instead he took this money and purchased a silver bracelet as a gift to say thank you and to remember him when I pray. I was so moved by this expression of love and commitment. This was just an example of the level of sacrifice that many of the leaders expressed during my two weeks in their country. To prepare for the outdoor evangelistic services, chairs, mats, tents, lights, sound system and generators were rented. All the leaders of Pastor ShamshadÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s team had sold all their personal jewelry and put up their personal money because they believed that God would move in a mighty way, and He did.
Night after night hundreds came forward for God to heal. Children and babies were healed from high fevers, ear aches and sickness instantly. A young boy who had a bone protruding from his shin was healed the next day. A woman who was crippled within her hands, they returned to normal as the prayer went forth. Demonic spirits were cast out. Pains within the body were removed instantly. The host pastor stated he has never seen such a move of God were so many people were healed. This was the first time in his eight years of ministry that someone came from the United States to share the word of the Lord. Nothing is too hard for God. The level of faith and expectation of this community has caused such a stirring that even the MuslimÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s who witnessed this expression of GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s power wanted to know more about this God. Some Muslims were sneaking in to the pastor home and wanted me to pray for them and their family.
We were scheduled to go to Islamabad for the last stop on the trip but had to cancel due to militant activities taking place earlier that day. A Pakistani cleric and about 50 of his supporters were killed after troops stormed a mosque in Islamabad.
At the end of the conference, we spent time at PastorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s home exchanging information about the diversity of our cultures. I learned so much about love, spending quality time, sharing and laughter. This is an experience that I will never forget. I will continually pray for the Gospel Ministry in Pakistan and look forward to the time when I can return again to share the word of the Lord. After I returned home, I received the following email.
Dear Brother Ashley hall,
Sadly, it is brought into your notice that the Muslims have killed a Child (named Kala Masih s/o Munsha Masih) of our School.It is really a dreadful
thing for our Christians.
First the Child was killed by pressing his throat (neck) then his lips were cut with a knife and his Eyes were also taken out by the knife and at the end the child was thrown in a dirty pool. We searched the child for two days but did not find. At last on third day the dead body of the Child was seen floating in the pool. We called the police and enrolled our case. The police arrested the killer people. But after paying the money the killer people came back.
The ChildÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s family is so poor that they cannot fight the case but we together through our ministry are fighting the case for it we need your prayers and support so that we can get just (fair).
We are praying for you and your family.
We as leaders, I ask that you continue to pray for the work in Pakistan that God would do a mighty work and heal that country so the people can all live in harmony and love.
Minister Ashley Hall is a member of the Abundant Life Family Worship Church located in New Brunswick, NJ under the leadership of Bishop George and Lady Mary Searight.