The Bishop of Lahore, Irfan Jamil, has stressed the need to “proclaim the gospel boldly” as the first of five components for Christian life and witness. Bishop Irfan was speaking at conference for Pakistan church leaders being held as a follow-up to the Asia Mission Conference (AMC) held in Yangon, Myanmar, last October. Most of the 29 Pakistan church representatives invited to attend the AMC were denied Visas to enter Myanmar, so AMC organisers held this follow-up conference at the headquarters of the National Council of Churches in Pakistan.
Addressing the conference, Bishop Irfan reminded participants of the ned to fulfil the need of servant-hood as a priority in Christian life and witness.
“We need five components in fulfilling our servant-hood,” he said. “First, proclaim the gospel boldly; second continue to develop the discipleship which should be our ongoing process in the church life; third have compassion on the people in need with action; fourth, keep your transforming spirit; fifth, remember our stewardship on God’s creation; this works only when we empty ourselves, trusting the power of Holy Spirit who moves us into action.”
The national consultation drew together 60 representatives from Pakistan churches to discuss the themes that emerged at the AMC gathering.
In the opening address, the Revd Azhar Mushtaq of the Church of Pakistan stressed the importance of responding to the urgent call to churches in Pakistan to witness to the truth and light amidst dark realities and to follow Jesus Christ who transforms the world.
In a presentation on “prophetic witness to the truth and light”, Father Emmanuel Assis from the Roman Catholic Church emphasised the “necessity of listening while being engaged in prophetic witness”.
“Today we are used to speaking too much,” he said. “Maybe people are affected by noise pollution. Whatever happens in our surroundings, it is important to listen, and listening leads us to respond to the mission of prophetic witness. Listening is the first process to respond and participate in the prophetic witnessing.”
The Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, the Bishop of Peshawar, Humphrey Peters, spoke about “challenges to prophetic witness of the churches in Pakistan to the truth and light”. He shared the real challenges from the day-to-day experiences and stories of struggles from Pakistan, and said that the stark realities of religious intolerance warrant the followers of Jesus Christ to be witnesses in the midst of challenges.
Salvation Army Territorial Commander Iver Telfer challenged the participants in his presentation on “accompanying the people and communities in Pakistan”, and said: “the churches in Pakistan have massive resources in the church, and we need to enable the people to achieve their God-given potential.”
The national consultation participants joined a group of invited guests at a special commemorative diamond jubilee celebration of CCA, which was “founded to be the voice of the churches in Asia,” the Bishop of Raiwind Azad Marshall, the former Bishop of Iran, said. “During the past six decades CCA accompanied the Asian churches in various ways. The churches in Pakistan benefited in various ways through accompaniment of CCA and other Asian churches.”