By: Loyd Jenkins
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”
Recently I posted on our Facebook about a visit we had from Dr. Keith Ackerman. He picked up 5 patient monitors from us for Christian Hospital (this is the name of the hospital and not a descriptor) in Fahiwal, Pakistan. I was surprised to find how many people were reached by the post, no doubt because Pakistan is a restricted country.
It is curious and intriguing to hear from those who work in dangerous parts of the world. Restricted countries are those whose laws, or governing leadership, restrict religion and have heavy consequences if found violating those laws. Sometimes those consequences can even mean death. We are intrigued by stories of courage. It’s very interesting to hear how some people risk their very lives to work and serve in places where they could be harmed, could be put to death—from opposing religious groups or even that country’s government.
I think it causes us to wonder why. Why do some people break from the norm of conservative social life in the United States—which often can be very comfortable living– to take on work and careers in very difficult and uncomfortable parts of the world? And the Middle East countries, no doubt, are perceived to be the areas of greatest risk due to the rise in acts of terror against Americans and Christians.
Pakistan is a restricted country that was an entirely secular state but has subsequently become an Islamic republic since the mid 1950’s. It is estimated that 95% of Pakistanis are Muslims, much of which are Sunni and nearly a quarter Shia. After the incident of 9/11, the government took steps to curtail the religious intolerance among the various Islam and Muslim factions, but has had little effect on the social hostilities against religions.
It is interesting to note that the Pakistani government does not restrict religious publishing per se. However, it restricts the right to freedom of speech with regard to religion. Speaking in opposition to Islam is prohibited as it relates to their Blasphemy Laws. The blasphemy laws are problematic and have been the source great harm.
Not everyone is called to go and serve in a restricted country, but we should remember those who are. We should be uplifting them in prayer for the cause of Christ and for their safety. And we all can do that.
I am reminded of Aileen Coleman who recently spoke to a filled auditorium of people at a Global Health Mission conference in Kentucky last year. She is in her late 80’s and has spent her entire Christian life working in Jordan, and being a witness for Jesus. To the Bedouins in Jordan, she is considered the Desert Angel and give her great honor though she is a Christian and a woman. “I’ll keep working until I simply drop dead,” she said. Throughout her speech she kept urging, “Don’t waste your life.” At first I was thinking she was directing it toward the younger people in the auditorium until her ending words before she left the stage, “Don’t waste your life…. lose it in the service Christ.”