An eye surgeon from the Diocese of Peshawar, Khushbakht Peters, on how the united Church of Pakistan is called to exist – and be a source of blessing for many – despite the difficulties faced in the region.
The real Church, believers in the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, will remain a minority group all over the World. Maintaining the existence, identity and developing the bridges with the majority community will always be an endeavor for the small Christian minority in the World. Any opportunity to sustain the identity and simultaneously sharing the Good News is a blessing to cherish.
In December, before Christmas 2018, I was offered a rare chance, an opportunity that comes to the most once in a lifetime. I was invited to participate in the Christmas celebrations in the Presidency of our country at Islamabad. The Ministry of the Religious Affairs of the Government of Pakistan arranged the celebrations, the Chief Guest was Dr Arif Alvi, President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
It was exciting to be there. The hall was decorated beautifully with Christmas ornaments and Christmas trees. The Choir was from Edwardes College, Peshawar, a prestigious college under the Church of Pakistan’s Diocese of Peshawar. Speeches at the occasion were by the Primate of the Church of Pakistan, the President Bishop Humphrey Peters, who talked about the importance of Christmas, linking it with the Prince of Peace, sustainer of global peace.
The President of Pakistan delivered the message on the importance of religious tolerance and interfaith harmony. After the main event we were given some time to meet the President, who wished us all Merry Christmas. It was a wonderful evening indeed, and quite thought provoking as well.
Pakistan has been added to the “special watch list” of governments, as a country engaged in severe religious freedom violations. As indigenous Pakistani Christians, we know the persecutions and challenges we face. At the same time we also know, there are some people and organisations, both Christians and non-Christians, who work hard to support and defend the Pakistani religious minorities.
These are the people who believe in the dignity of human being, peaceful coexistence, religious tolerance, reconciliation, meaning of freedom, and the basic human rights. There is a vivid example of Supreme Court of Pakistan’s verdict in the case of Asia Bibi where the justice has prevailed.
Such examples re-affirm our faith that our Holy Father wants the Church to exist in all the conditions – even in the difficult situations – and to become a source of blessing for many.
Christians are the pioneers in education, health, community-directed rehabilitation, and the eradication of Leprosy in Pakistan.
The Pakistani Church will continue helping and remain a source of blessing in Pakistan; cherishing God’s favour.