Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Great!!! Pakistani Muslims Build Church For Christian Neighbors

In Pakistan’s northeastern Punjab province,
Muslim villagers are raising funds to help their
poor Christian neighbors build a church.
The initiative was begun shortly before Easter
by a group of Muslims from a village in
Faisalabad, Pakistan’s textile-manufacturing
hub.
“There is a tiny Christian population in the
village — only 20 families — who have no
place to worship,” Fr. Aftab James, the local
priest, told Anadolu Agency.
“Only days before Easter, the initiative was
taken up by our Muslim brothers,” he said.
According to Fr. James, Christians of the
village had to use someone’s home — or
some other site — to perform prayers on holy
days.
“Muslim residents of the town, however,
offered to build us a chapel as a gift,” he said.
“We are thankful to our Muslim brothers for
this wonderful gesture. It makes us feel
proud,” the priest said.
The local Christian community is now very
excited that they will soon have a church in
the village.
“Before we had to rent or borrow a house in
which to hold Christmas, Easter and other
festivities,” Faryad Masih, a Christian laborer,
told Anadolu Agency.
“But now we will soon have our own chapel,”
he said.
“At first I didn’t believe it when Muslim
community leaders said they would build us a
chapel,” he recalled.
“But to my surprise, construction work began
within one month of the initial
announcement,” a visibly excited Faryad said.
“Our community’s longtime dream is now
coming true,” he said.
Christians, Pakistan’s largest religious
minority, account for roughly 3 percent of the
country’s total population of some 180
million.
Most of them reside in Punjab, Pakistan’s
largest province, where they are mainly
involved in the sanitation, nursing and
teaching sectors.
Almost 60 percent of Pakistan’s Christian
community is Protestant, while the rest are
Catholic. The country’s Christians are
represented in Pakistan’s government and
Senate, and in national and provincial
assemblies.
– Country of tolerance
The local community has already raised
150,000 Pakistani rupees (roughly $1,500)
towards the total cost of the church’s
construction, estimated at some 700,000
rupees ($7,000).
Mian Ejaz, one of the Muslim fundraisers, told
Anadolu Agency that additional funds would
eventually be raised to finish the chapel,
which would include a medium-size prayer
hall and another room.
“We had four mosques in the village but no
place of worship for Christians, as most of
them are poor and lack the funds to build a
church on their own,” Ejaz, who also provides
funds for the village’s four mosques, said.
Therefore, Ejaz said, Muslim community
leaders had decided to give an Easter gift to
their Christian counterparts in the form of a
chapel.
The day construction work began on the
church in March, a massive bombing tore
through a public park in provincial capital
Lahore killing dozens of people, including a
number of Christians celebrating Easter.
“We want to tell the world that Pakistan isn’t a
country of extremists — who are only a small
minority — but a country of people who
believe in religious tolerance and harmony,”
Ejaz said.
“Moreover, the Christian world is doing a lot
for Muslim refugees, so we should pay them
[Christians] back in the same coin,” he said,
referring to the flocks of Muslim refugees now
trying to reach Europe from Turkey.

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