Sabbath, December 31, 2005
Pakistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, a republic in South Asia, marks the area where South Asia converges with Southwest Asia and Central Asia. The capital of Pakistan is Islamabad; Karachi is the country’s largest city.
The area of present-day Pakistan was the cradle of the earliest known civilization of South Asia, the Indus Valley civilization (2500?-1700 BC). The territory was part of the Mughal Empire from 1526 until the 1700s, when it came under British rule. Pakistan gained independence in August 1947. It initially comprised two parts, West Pakistan and East Pakistan, which were separated by about 1,600 km. (1,000 m.) of territory within India. In December 1971, East Pakistan seceded and became the independent republic of Bangladesh. Pakistan has a population of 153,705,278 (a 2004 estimate). Only 34% of the people live in urban areas. The people of Pakistan are ethnically diverse.
Islam is the faith of about 97% of the people of Pakistan. Hindus and Christians form the largest religious minorities, accounting for about 3 % of the population. Other religious groups include Sikhs, Parsis, and a small number of Buddhists. The constitution defines Pakistan as an Islamic state but guarantees freedom of religion. Pakistan is a multilingual and multiethnic nation. Most Pakistanis speak at least two languages. A large segment of the population is trilingual, speaking English, Urdu, and an ethnic-based regional language.
As some of you now, I was called to visit some believers in Pakistan. The first invitation came from a lay member, a brother about 35 years of age. After exchanging two letters by airmail, and e-mail, I was introduced to a minister in that country, who had been working for another movement. That brother was ready to resign from his position, but after reading my first two letters, as the answer to the first invitation sent to me, and by giving them the right message about the Reform Movement, both of those brothers sent me an invitation to visit them as soon is it would be possible. That was in February 2003.
At the General Conference Committee meeting, held in California in March 2003, we did agree that I should make that visit to Pakistan. We did not visit that country before. There, I found Seventh-day Adventists up to the fifth generation.
A minister, about 52 years old, has been the third generation in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I was there for 11 days, visiting the other place of worship every day. In Islamabad, the capital city, I stayed for four days, and there we had four meetings in different parts of the city. All of the members gladly accepted our message. On Sunday, March 13, 2003, they gathered together to join the church. Twenty-three members were able to be present at that meeting. They were accepted by hand, and a minister was re-ordained. The organization was made into the Pakistan Mission Field. Most members of that area were not able to be present.
The majority of Pakistani Christians are too poor. They live in slum areas near dirty tanks. In the capital city of Islamabad, most of the Christians live on both sides of dirty brooks and in shabby mud houses, where electricity and water very seldom come. They breathe a dirty air, along with bad odors and other unpleasant smells. Sometimes, some children have died in the dirty waters when the brooks are overflowing from too much rainfall. The government raised a high wall around these slum areas, so that they might not be seen. Because they were too poor, people occupied the land illegally, so many houses in some areas were demolished; some are waiting for their turns. Some houses are left for some money. So, the people requested for Bro. Branko Cholich to help in making a housing colony, which consists of 200 families. There will be a church built in the center, a mission headquarters, and an education center. The colony will be in a good condition because, to be better spiritual, God’s people need good houses.
The church will sell pieces of land to the church members in down payments, or installments, and arrange for a loan to build the houses so that they may live in their own houses and come to the church easily. The second reason for the colony is that land in Islamabad is too expensive and we cannot build the church near our people.
The work is still in its very early stages, and so we urgently need the support and cooperation of our dear brothers and sisters around the world. “All that we do is to be done willingly. We are to bring our offerings with joy and gratitude, saying as we present them, ‘Of Thine own we freely give Thee.’ The most costly service we can render is but meager compared to the gift of God to our world. Christ is a gift every day. God gave Him to the world, and He graciously takes the gifts entrusted to His human agents for the advancement of His work in the world. Thus we show that we recognize and acknowledge that every thing belongs to God, absolutely and entirely.
“The offering from the heart that loves, God delights to honor, giving it highest effi ciency in service for Him. If we have given our hearts to Jesus, we also shall bring our gifts to Him. Our gold and silver, our most precious earthly possessions, our highest mental and spiritual endowments, will be freely devoted to Him who loved us, and gave Himself for us.” –Counsels on Stewardship, p.198.
–B. Cholich, President of the General Conference
–Inayat Daniel, President of the Pakistan Field