The Conquering Christ in Pakistan
There was once a young lawyer who dreamed of living in a country free from its imperial conquerors. Free from religious persecution.
There was once a young boy who dreamed of serving God; who lived to bring His word to the people of his nation.
There was once a young girl who wanted nothing more than to be a light for God in the world. To lead her fellow sisters, mothers, and daughters in Christ closer to Him.
The lawyer, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, led the fight against British India and its Hindu majority, carving out the nation of Pakistan with blood and ardor.
Jinnah had a vision for the fledgling Pakistani nation-state: a safe haven for all Muslims to worship freely and without fear. And so, in the name of justice and retribution, the formerly oppressed Muslims lashed out at their Hindu neighbors, sparking several years of bloodshed that would claim the lives of between 200,000-2,000,000 people, not including those who were kidnapped and held hostage. This became part of a history of violence and fear as both India and Pakistan brutalized their respective Muslim and Hindu minority populations.
Over the next several decades, as regime after regime fought for control over Pakistan, the Islamic state consolidated its power, basing its laws on a strict interpretation of the Quran. They enacted the Blasphemy Laws, making any word or action that could be construed as anti-Islamic punishable by a fine, jail time, or even death.
The young boy, Patras Nazir, and the young girl, Sumble Patras, fell in love and married. They began a ministry in Pakistan to serve and grow the Kingdom of God.
Patras and Sumble have watched their Christian neighbors and friends be falsely accused of blasphemy by those driven by jealousy and greed. Some were found innocent, but many paid dearly for their “crimes.”
They have seen whole Christian communities abandon their homes for fear of persecution.
They have seen the few Muslim judges that stood up for fairness and justice disappear in the middle of the night, leaving their families to poverty and starvation.
But still their ministry endures.
Patras and Sumble go throughout their community, unafraid to be known for who they are and the message they bring. Sumble leads weekly women’s classes, teaching what the Bible says about being a good wife, mother, and daughter. She creates a safe environment for honest discussion of spiritual and social issues.
Patras, now an ordained minister, travels on a small red scooter throughout the region, nurturing fledging Christian communities and training new pastors to lead them. He is currently working to translate pastoral books into the common language, Urdu, in order to make education easier. He brings the translated books by the dozens to these communities, stacking them precariously on the backseat of his tiny scooter, making himself an obvious and easy target under the Blasphemy Law.
But still their ministry endures.
Patras visits prisons, where he listens to inmates convicted of theft, murder, and blasphemy, and prays with them. He teaches them about Jesus, telling them that Jesus loves them, that He died for them, that He has already taken their sins to the cross. That if they repent, and accept His love, they will be washed clean. Over the course of several years, has received dozens of confessions, professions of repentance, and performed many baptisms. In fact, many of the inmates have since become a part of his ministry.
And in the decades since their marriage, their daughter, Shemaiah, has started a children’s ministry to bring the Word to the next generation.
Even though their lives are daily in danger—still their ministry endures. In fact, it is growing. When asked about his favorite part of being a pastor, Patras said, “I like to do everything in my ministry whole heartedly, and filled with love, because the Bible says whatever you do, do it whole heartedly, not for men but for God. Therefore everything related to ministry is my favorite. I do it with a passion and a burden.”
Their family has become the true face of Jesus, actively suffering and enduring the threat of persecution and death; bringing His joyful, compassionate presence to all those in need.
They have stood, unflinching, in the midst of other people’s pain and borne it with them. They have looked every person in the eye—regardless of their faith—and said, simply, “Jesus loves you.”
But they need our help. The Christian population in Pakistan needs our prayers for guidance and protection, and it needs educational materials to help new communities feed their theological needs.
As Patras has said, “The greatest rewards of my ministry are the salvation and winning of souls for Christ through our preaching and teaching. When people invite us to return to their churches again and again, it means that God’s Holy Spirit is touching and blessing them through us…Through our translation work, thousands of people come to know the methods and principles of teaching and preaching, and the profundity of the Biblical message. They have been equipped and trained and are working in different areas throughout Pakistan. We continue this work for the glory of the Lord as God makes it possible for us.”
Patras and Sumble pray every night for all of us—for peace and prosperity in our world. Now it is our turn to help them endure in theirs.