Editor’s note: This issue’s On Mission pages are devoted to three short stories of what is happening with the CoG7 in Pakistan. They are taken from the Orphans and Widows newsletter, produced by GC Missions.
Surviving in Pakistan
by Brian Baker
Pakistan has the fifth largest population in the world; the United States has the third largest. The average household monthly income in urban areas of Pakistan is $145 (only $106 in rural areas). The average household monthly income in the US is $5,900.
I know what you’re thinking, because I am thinking the same thing. I don’t make anywhere near $5,900 a month! And the truth is that our church members in Pakistan don’t make anywhere near $106 a month. It’s more like $60.
We have around 10,000 Church of God (Seventh Day) members in Pakistan. Six or so years ago, we started sewing classes to teach widows a trade that could help them increase their household income. We also spent $100 for each woman to own a sewing machine. Over 250 women have benefitted.
All was going well, with some of our ladies making up to $125 a month with their new trade. Then COVID hit three years ago. Flooding hit last fall that affected about 70 percent of the nation. Between the two, the economy tanked and is nowhere near recovering. Our church members are barely existing, and the sewing trade is abysmal with members trying to sell clothing among themselves.
They need to export. A quick search taught me that six of the top ten exports in Pakistan have something to do with textiles. I have met with a woman here in America who specializes in clothing design and sales. She owns her own boutique and markets products online.
I have been communicating with this woman for several years. I went to school with her mother and father at Spring Vale some thirty-five years ago. We are meeting about some specific designs of a needed product in America. I don’t want to tell you too much too soon, but I’m excited to brainstorm and come up with an exporting plan that our Church of God (Seventh Day) women of Pakistan can produce and ship.
For the next several months, I will be raising funds to help our women and widows, some of whom have been rescued from brick kilns, to start clothing exporting. This will be our sustainability project for Pakistan.
Please consider giving to our church members in Pakistan so they can make their own way.
Brian Baker is GC Missions Orphans and Widows Ministry director.
Converted Through Kindness
by Sehrish Shamas as told to Abrahams Odongo
Thirteen-year-old Roshni is a good and bright student. Though her parents didn’t get a chance to acquire formal learning, they were committed to ensuring that Roshni and her two sisters received a high-quality education. Truth Academy offered that. These three girls came from an extremely poor family and were among some of the first students to be recruited by Pastor Pervaiz Shamas to join Truth Academy as pioneer students. Roshni is currently in her fourth class and is doing well in her studies.
Roshni and her family were members of the Catholic church before they heard preaching, were converted and baptized. They are now active members of the Church of God (Seventh Day) in Pakistan. When Truth Academy started, Roshni’s father, Goga, hesitated to let his children join this school, fearing he couldn’t afford the fees. He was soon surprised that Pastor Shamas, because of his heart and compassion for the Christian children in Pakistan, greatly reduced the fees so these children could go to school.
This gesture of kindness touched Brother Goga and even Roshni. Pastor Shamas believes that, being a brilliant and hardworking student and through good education, this young girl will be able to help herself and probably alleviate the poverty in their family.
In years past, Roshni’s parents had to work in brick kilns and even do chores in houses belonging to Muslims. Now they believe that someday this cycle of poverty will be broken.
Transformed to Impact Others
by Sehrish Shamas as told to Abrahams Odongo
Sister Irum, a thirty-two-year-old teacher at Truth Academy in Pakistan, has known the difference between the Islamic, Catholic, and Protestant Christian faiths. Unlike many young people who know just one religion, Irum started her journey of life as a Catholic. Her birth in a strong Catholic family and subsequent education in a Catholic school might have shaped her into a staunch Catholic who could even later be the youth leader of the same faith.
One day during a united convention she attended, Irum heard preaching from Pastor Shamas Pervaiz that touched her and aroused new interest in the things of God. Upon hearing and being convicted, she gathered courage to ask Pastor Shamas for his mobile phone number so that they could stay in touch. Even though she was a Catholic, Irum desired to know more about the Bible. This contact allowed Pastor Shamas to help her understand the Bible through his audio messages he shared with her. She learned about topics such as Sabbath, immersion baptism, and other biblical topics. Soon Irum decided to convert from Catholicism, be fully baptized, and become a member of the Church of God (Seventh Day).
Sister Irum’s teaching career has stretched for twelve years. She taught her first seven years in a Muslim school. Once she switched to the Church of God, she requested that Pastor Shamas consider her for employment at Truth Academy, and he granted it. According to Sister Irum, her engagement at Truth Academy as a teacher has not been her single biggest motivation. Rather, it is the equal opportunity that this school provides for all students, even children from brick kilns. To her, Truth Academy offers to educate all students with the highest quality education but, more importantly, a spiritual education.
This uniqueness of the poor affording what only the rich could afford fills Sister Irum with joy. Her journey started as a Catholic. She taught in a Muslim school. But now she has learned to read the Bible for herself and help other students follow her on this journey.