When many Americans think of Pakistan these days, their thoughts tend to swirl around clandestine drone attacks, suicide bombers at marketplaces, the Taliban, and arrests and assassinations of political figures. Perhaps mosques and burqas also figure predominantly in the imagined landscape.
While these notions may indeed have some relevancy, to define the entire culture by such parameters is very short-sighted. In such a harsh environment, where is room for talk of hope, forgiveness, or transformation? Indeed, there are other realities in Pakistan which do not get much airplay on American newscasts or enter our imaginations.
During a recent evangelism rally coordinated by a few FMI-supported pastors in one district, about 250 people quickly filled up the outdoor plot of land across the dusty street from the field where children usually play cricket. Loudspeakers broadcast the message into the streets of the neighborhood.
Christian musicians played the tabla and harmonium (popular instruments in Pakistan) and sang freely. A guest speaker shared the gospel message; for most in the audience, it was probably the first someone had ever shared with them the good news of grace, mercy, and new life in Christ. The crowd, young and old alike, sat on the ground, listening intently. By the end of the afternoon, about one-third of the audience raised their hands to indicate they wanted to place their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation.
Pakistan may have more than its share of dark and harsh realities, but many people there are still receptive to gospel. The light radiates in contrast to the darkness, and the darkness can never overcome it. And now there are a few more reflectors of Jesus’ light.