Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cecil Chaudhry’s Life and Works Celebrated in Canada

Last week, International Christian Voice hosted a Memorial Service in honor of the late Cecil Chaudhry, a real Pakistani hero. Chaudhry, a fighter pilot – known the world over and remembered for his valiant heroic efforts in two Indo-Pak wars, as well as his work as both an educationalist and human rights activist. The service was held on May 25, at a church in Brampton.

The event was well-attended by many members of the Pakistani Christian community, members of Chaudhry’s family including his cousin and brother-in-law, as well as Canadian Member Parliament Joe Daniel, and Conservative Party of Canada National Councillor (Ontario) Mark Dotzert.

A banner hung in the front of the church rightfully displayed “Cecil Chaudhry: a True Son of the Nation”.

As people arrived, they entered immediately into worship led by Pastor Samuel Ghauri, Faraz Saleem and another young Pakistani Christian gentleman.

The memorial service was opened with a welcome message from Major Ret. Vincent Samuel, who gave a brief background on Cecil Chaudhry’s history as a war hero as well as a public servant. Samuel told the gathering about Chaudhry’s nicknames: “Guppoo” from his air force buddies – who remember Chaudhry for his unending stories; “Cees” from others; and as Samuel stated – for the rest of us, he was a hero who fought for us as Pakistanis.

Samuel took the time to remember the late Bishop John Joseph, who literally gave his life in protest – in order to bring awareness about the atrocities taking place in Pakistan because of the Blasphemy Law – the anniversary of whose death was on May 6th. Samuel also asked the gathering to remember the 129 soldiers and 11 civilians who died in the Siachen Avalanche on April 7th, 2012 – this included 3 Christian soldiers.

Samuel stated, “as a soldier who spent some time of my youth on the Siachen Glacier, I remember tonight that grave incident -- those who lost their lives, including three Christian soldiers. Please remember Arif Masih, Moon Gul and Naveed Masih and their families in your prayers.”

Samuel then welcomed Reverend Dr. Rashid Gill forward to lead worship. Reverend Dr. Gill led the gathering in singing psalm: “Daim Yahova Ya Rabb”.

Next Kanwal Dean read a few passages from the Bible, followed by Pastor Suleman Khokhar who led everyone in a prayer. Pastor Khokhar prayed for the family and loved ones of Chaudhry; that God would use Chaudhry’s life as a testimony, and use this memorial as a celebration of the life God gave him. Pastor Khokhar prayed “There is a crown of righteousness waiting for those who run the race – who fight the good fight”, stating he had faith that Chaudhry was indeed one of those.

The service was then led by Pastor Samuel Ghauri – who asked those present to join him in a short chorus before he began his sermon (“I love you Lord, and I life my voice to worship You”). He asked everyone a question “How many of you can say tonight that you have a hero in your life?” Leading us all to think back to all the heroes that we do indeed have – I remembered at this time sitting a few nights ago with my father in our living room while he thought back to his hero, Cecil Chaudhry. My father told me that growing up, especially as a Christian, the joy – the pride – the honor it was to have a man like Cecil Chaudhry as a part of the Pakistani Christian community, and how many of our young people in those days, including my own dad would think “when I grow up I want to be like him!”

Pastor Samuel recalled the story of Nehemia, “a cup bearer from the year 462 BC”, as he put it. The most valuable person in Emperor Cyrus’s kingdom – he would taste the food before the emperor, a position which meant he was trusted beyond any other. Pastor Samuel taught everyone that although Nehemiah was different from the others in that place – different skin colour, background, religion, etc.; he did his job better than them all – and lived in a way that made even the Emperor put his trust in him. Pastor then told the gathering that a child of God must do his job, live out his purpose with dignity, trustworthiness, and grace – a humbleness of heart and mind that clearly Nehemia showed – the same attitude and service that could be seen in the life of Cecil Chaudhry. The pastor also reminded everyone that we will all face death, and so we must live as those two heroes did.

Pastor Samuel similarly remembered another hero, Shahbaz Bhatti, who was also a dear friend and confidante of Cecil Chaudhry. In honour of those heroes who had passed and those who still struggle in life, he urged the community in saying, “here on the podium, we say so many good things about people that have passed away – but we must start learning to say good things about people while they are alive.”

The next part of the service was led by Nitasha Bhatti and Vincent Samuel as MCs introducing people who shared their personal experiences and stories about Cecil Chaudhry. Two multimedia clips were played beginning with a video slideshow of Cecil Chaudhry’s life and accomplishments, as well as a beautiful and touching message from Michelle Chaudhry, daughter of Cecil Chaudhry – who regaled her memories of a man who was not only the nation’s hero, but her own; her father, friend and teacher. Michelle said about Chaudhry, “Our father excelled in everything he chose to do,” a statement clearly evident in Chaudhry’s fearless and selfless war efforts, as well as his lifelong purpose to educate.

As Nitasha Bhatti put it, Cecil Chaudhry is an “example of how our Pakistani Christians despite their hardships are willing to fight for their nation.”

Next Pastor Javed Akthtar led the service in a prayer for the families of all martyrs, and specifically for the family of Cecil Chaudhry in their time of need. The prayer was followed by a beautiful poem written by local celebrated poet Javed Iqbal, written in honour of Chaudhry.

ICV Chairman Peter Bhatti addressed the gathering, reiterating the history and biography of the great Cecil Chaudhry and on behalf of ICV saluted Chaudhry and all heroes like him. Bhatti also reaffirmed the mission of ICV to continue their work – work inspired by heroes like Cecil Chaudhry and Shahbaz Bhatti.

MP Joe Daniel was introduced as a true friend to our Pakistani Christian community; he is an active supporter of religious freedom here in Canada and around the world. He recently visited Pakistan as well, meeting with members of Pakistani Christian leadership and getting to know our community's issues and goals. MP Joe Daniel referred to Chaudhry as a “beacon of light in [our] community,” someone we can look to as a reference of success and goodness, and emulate our own lives and works – “shine our own light.”

CPC National Councillor Mark Dotzert, who works very closely with our Pakistani Christian community here in Ontario – specifically engaging our youth in politics, asked us “who will take his place?” Who would be willing to stand and support others as Chaudhry did? Quoting Proverbs 31, Dotzert spoke to the gathering about how the Proverb tells us not only of the noble wife – but makes reference to her husband (“Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land”). The woman is a Godly and righteous woman, and because of who she is – her husband is able to go out and stand tall and work for others as well; because as Dotzert put it – a city or metropolis was named thus as it’s root came from “polis” or politics, and the man at the city gate was one who gave his life in public service, i.e. politics. Dotzert encouraged the community to continue to step forward in Pakistan, and everywhere we may be to take our place in  the leadership and guidance of our cities/communities and nations.

Renowned musician Raja Harrison led the gathering in Psalm 139, one that he told was beloved by Chaudhry (“Khudaya Teri Ruh thon mein”) – a pilot who would often say that when in flight he would wonder about God’s Glory and Omnipotence and be reminded of this Psalm:

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? 
If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. 
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 
even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.” 

Next Reverend Group Captain Ret. James Luke, a colleague and friend of Chaudhry’s spoke. With the reverence of one who truly knew the sacrifice and courage it takes to do battle, he stated, “you can’t imagine how it feels, at a height of 50thousand with the enemy chasing after you,” but that even there he knew – as Chaudhry did that God is there at that moment with us. Reverend Luke spoke sadly about how government initiatives in Pakistan led to the removal of Chaudhry’s name in school books and texts; but that it could not erase his legacy.

The Reverend also reminisced on the heart-rending time during the Indo-Pak war of 1971, when his own base received news that Chaudhry’s plane had been shot down. He talked about the “utter silence” that took hold over literally every person around the base that day – and then the sheer joy that they all felt when they learned that Chaudhry’s plane had indeed been shot down but he had landed on the Pakistani side of the border. That day, as Reverend Luke recalls – "we saw him walking towards our base", everyone was filled with excitement and joy at the sight of Chaudhry – whom the Reverend referred to as “very affectionate” and a “very tall figure” indeed.

After the Reverend, Faraz Saleem spoke to the gathering about the Cecil Chaudhry he knew – his principle at St. Anthony’s. As a student of Chaudhry’s, Saleem proudly told how his coming to Canada in 1999 after his O-levels in Pakistan, meant that he felt no communication barrier here. He had received an excellent education under Chaudhry’s guidance in the school. Saleem, a well-known community member and creator of the South Asian Christian website said Chaudhry “made me the man that I am today” and that much of his accomplishments are “because I had a solid foundation in education.”

Saleem also told us a particularly memorable anecdote about his time in St. Anthony's; when he and other students had been caught skipping their class and were sent to the principal’s office. Chaudhry had dismissed the others and taken him (Saleem) aside specifically to say to the young student: “I don’t want any of my Christian [students] to be highlighted for discipline”, teaching him about the importance of working harder and with greater respect than others, as a Christian student in Pakistan. Saleem also discussed Chaudhry’s efforts in subsidizing education for Christian students who could not afford school fees to the prestigious school.

This importance that Chaudhry had shown Saleem about the shaping of young minds was evident in Saleem’s last words during his eulogy.He encouraged community members and leadership to bring younger generations into the fold – as many these days do not know what Cecil Chaudhry and others like him have done. Without the understanding of their sacrifices – younger generations are unable to value and in turn have interest in Pakistani Christian issues.

Next, a Pakistani Naval Officer by the name of George Ghulam regaled us with the story of  his brief encounter with Chaudhry. Ghulam told everyone that he wanted to be in the Air Force very much – but ended up “landing in the sea”. Still he stated, he was “encouraged by [Chaudhry’s] valiance and wanted to meet him,” so he “travelled to Lahore to do so, where [Chaudhry] was principal of St. Anthony’s”. Ghulam said that at the time he visited Lahore, St. Anthony’s was undergoing an admissions week and Chaudhry was very busy interviewing parents who wanted to enroll their children in the school. Time was limited for both Ghulam who was only in Lahore for a day or so, as well as Chaudhry – but he was given some time right after a parents’ meeting. That brief encounter, Ghulam said “stayed as a pearl in my memory.” Ghulam said before he left that day, he told Chaudhry that he had come only to salute him – and in true military fashion gave the hero a salute. Ghulam then turned to the picture of Chaudhry up in the church during service and said once again “I saluted him then, and I’ll salute him today.”

Ghulam ended by noting how wonderful it was to have all three tiers of Pakistan’s Armed Forces present in the service to give tribute to their hero, Cecil Chaudhry.

In closing the memorial service, ICV Executive Eliza Charles thanked everyone for joining ICV, and condoled with the community at large for the loss of a man who was clearly beloved and admired by all. A prayer closing the memorial and over the food was done by Reverend Alexander David, and after joining the choir in one last hymn – the attendees filtered out to a wonderful reception with hot food and lots of delightful conversation.

It was a wonderful evening, and I myself learned a lot just by being there. I wish more younger people had taken the time to join us, because as I became even more aware of that evening -- Chaudhry really is a man to be proud of in our community. One who showed us we can do big things, even as Pakistani Christians.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Blasphemy in the Church

Hey Everyone!

I've been neglecting the blog for a bit -- while I fiercely attempt to soak up as much medical knowledge as I can before my licencing exam (as many of you already know). Thanks to all my readers and friends for your continued prayers and support!

I just came across this article by Jibran Khan, regular contributor at; he reports about Reverend Irfan Gill of Data Zedka (Punjab), who has recently faced blasphemy allegations and unfortunately in his case a slew of controversy as well. What's unique about this case however is that the article seems to tell us that Rev Gill did actually quote the quran in one of his sermons -- which led to the maulana of a local mosque to rage against the Reverend and try to start mob rule in the area. Typical response -- to a not so typical case.

This particular article does not delve into the exact context in which the Quran was quoted in the church -- or whether or not it was positive or negative. A further look at BPCA coverage of this case seems to indicate that the context may not have been bad -- but for lack of further information, let's go on and assume it was. Clearly this is an assumption that Father Munir John of the Catholic Diocese of Sialkot has also made because he has been quoted in Gibran's article as nearly bashing both Reverend Irfan and Protestant churches in general for what happened.

I take great umbrage at this entire situation.

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- the Blasphemy Law is just plain injustice. Not only because it's misused -- it's just plain ridiculous. Call it my "Canadian ignorance" if you wish, but I am beyond grateful that I live in this enlightened part of the world where God doesn't become smaller if you say something against Him. Believe or don't believe, respect or don't -- it's your prerogative and your eternity.

So why is sharia so adamant in punishing people for blasphemy? Clearly it's not about saving face or respect of their diety, but just plain emotion. "You hurt my feelings, so I'm going to lock you up for life or slaughter you."

Admit it or not, we know this is how it is for quite literally all blasphemy cases, but Christians -- and often Christian leaders are catering to and appeasing this kind of dangerous ideology when they turn the blame on to the victim.

Why do we not ask what good is a church that can not determine right from wrong? Truth from lies?

Should the Reverend have said what he said? I won't say he should have -- but that's only because I don't know the context. I do however, have a real heartache for so many Christians in Pakistan who sway back and forth in the gap between salvation and society; who with the constant bombardment of islamic rhetoric are at times not entirely sure of their own beliefs.

We discuss it all the time as a community, education will set us free but here's a radical truth for you all -- CHRISTIAN education will set us free for eternity. This includes knowing the reality of the world around us and what we should not take part in, because there is much that we should not take part in -- including falling for superstitions, false ideologies, evil practices.

Before I start getting hate mail though I do want to say: we have the harmless as doves thing down pat -- but we must also be wise/clever as serpents. It's probably not the brightest idea for us to speak in anger, uncontrolled in a church.  But at the same time, IF he was actually sharing something that was real and true and relevant, let me be the first to virtually pat him on the back and give him my thanks. All too often we run away from the difficult truths we must tell for fear of worldly consequence.

Here's a copy of the article, comment below and let me know what you think about this issue, the quotes in the article about denominations/blame, and the role of the church.


Punjab: Protestant pastor who cites Qur'an in sermon is accused of blasphemy
by Jibran Khan

Local Christians save Rev Irfan Gill after his life was threatened. He could still face the law under the 'black law'. Village imam wants him to retract and apologise in public. Many Protestant ministers are reckless, says Catholic priest; they "put the lives of innocent people in danger."

Lahore (AsiaNews) - A Protestant clergyman cited passages from the Qur'an as he delivered his sermon during a recent service in a Punjab village. This angered the local Muslim leader who wants the pastor to stand trial for blasphemy. Local Christians now fear that they too might experience the wrath of the Muslim community.

In the village in Data Zedka (Punjab), tensions are still high. Rev Irfan Gill, a Protestant clergyman from Lahore, has received death threats and a complaint by the head of the local mosque, Maulana Hafeez Tariq, has been filed against him. The latter even tried to attack him with the assistance of a group of local Muslims.

The local Christian community had invited Rev Gill to a prayer meeting. During his sermon, the clergyman quoted passages from the Qur'an to explain the errors and misunderstandings that underline today's interreligious violence. Outraged by such references, the imam called on the pastor to retract his statement and make a public apology.

Local Christians were able to get the reverend away, saving him from a dangerous situation. However, a blasphemy accusation still hangs over his head. Attempts by Christian elders and human rights activists to mediate failed. Maulana Hafeez Tariq wants a public apology.

For Fr Munir John, a Catholic priest from the Diocese of Sialkot, the pastor is partly to blame. Many Protestant preachers are carried away when they speak and anger people.

For Fr Munir, Rev Gill "should come back and apologise" rather "than put the lives of innocent people in danger."

"It is not the first time that a Protestant clergyman endangers the innocent," he explained. "Their small denominations and street churches can become easy targets."

Saturday, May 26, 2012

JihadWatch Reports -- Shahbaz Bhatti Assassination Cover-Up

Bhatti visiting with people in need, and hearing their stories.
Big surprise: Cover-up in murder of Pakistani Christian politician who opposed blasphemy law

No one expected this! Why, the Pakistani authorities are as honest and interested in equal justice for the nation's Christians as the day is long! "Bhatti Murder Case in Pakistan Increasingly Murky," from CDN, May 25 (thanks to Kenneth):

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, May 25 (CDN) — The investigation into the murder of Pakistan’s only cabinet-level Christian, Shahbaz Bhatti, has become mired amid suspicions of a possible cover-up, sources said.

Lax investigations, a series of freed suspects and lack of coordination across law enforcement organizations have stalled the case following the March 2, 2011 slaying of the federal minister for Minority Affairs, they said. A trial court in the garrison town of Rawalpindi this month exonerated yet another suspect arrested for his alleged role in the murder.

Rana Masood Akhtar, special judge in Anti-terrorism Court II, freed Ziaur Rehman after an investigating officer told the court that he was no longer wanted in the case due to lack of evidence. Bhatti’s family cited business disputes between Rehman and Bhatti as their reason for suspecting Rehman.

In February police had dropped investigations into another suspect, Abid Malik for lack of evidence. At first, Rehman had fled, managing to escape when police arrested Malik from Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport.

Bhatti’s brother, Paul Bhatti, said the family is not satisfied with the police investigation and authorities’ low level of interest in bringing the perpetrators to justice.

“We thought Ziaur Rehman’s arrest would lead us to the killers of my brother, because the police had obtained an international arrest warrant based on evidence,” he said. “I don’t understand why they issued the request [for an Interpol warrant] if they did not have sufficient evidence.”

Bhatti’s All Pakistan Minorities Alliance has also condemned inaction and lack of seriousness of government authorities.

In June 2011, a trial court released Hafiz Nazar Muhammad for lack of evidence after arresting him for having made threatening calls to Bhatti from Sargodha.

Bhatti was an outspoken critic of the country’s widely condemned “blasphemy” laws. At the scene of Bhatti’s murder, police recovered a leaflet, presumably left by the attackers, asserting that they had killed him for raising his voice against the blasphemy laws....

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cecil Chaudhry Memorial hosted by International Christian Voice

International Christian Voice 
Invites You and Your Family to Join the

Memorial Service

Group Captain (retd) Cecil Chaudhry 
(1941 – 2012)

International Christian Voice is holding a memorial service to pay tribute to Pakistani Christian, academic, human rights activist, and veteran fighter pilot; Group Captain (retd) Cecil Chaudhry. He was awarded the Sitara-e-Jurat (Star of Courage) for his services and was also a founding member of All Pakistan Minorities Alliance along with Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti, working for human rights and religious freedom.

Date: Friday, May 25th, 2012
Time: 6:30 p.m. 
Venue: Cross Point Christian Reformed Church 
444 Steeles Ave. W Brampton, ON (McLaughlin and Steeles)

Refreshments will be served followed by the service

Pakistani Christian Family of Five: Throats Slit Open

**PC NOTE** -- Latest reports suggest that Dr. Babar survived but is in critical condition and has had severe damage done to his vocal cords. The investigation has taken a nasty turn, and police are now suspecting that he himself may have been involved in the attack. Disturbing.

Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD) first reported:

May 23, 2012 -- Fiver members of a Christian family have been murdered in a heinous crime by unknown persons. Dr. Babar and his family resided in Muhala Ahmad Town, Okara; where yesterday he, his wife Shugufta Babar (a teacher in Convent High School, GT Road Okara), his sister-in-law Samina Bibi, and two children: 12 year old girl Zainab, and 15 year old boy Zarish, have been mercilessly slaughtered -- each of their throats cut wide open with a knife.

Although local police is currently investigating this case there is great concern over whether or not this could become another permanent scar on the marred face of Pakistan, where persecution of minority religions -- and specifically Christians continues to increase exponentially. Tensions run high in Christian communities, who live in constant fear of such incidents.

Our hearts go out to the family, friends, and community of this entire family. This ruthless murder has no doubt cast a dark shadow of worry over all. Let's hope that the police can investigate this appropriately and without delay in order to find and bring to justice the perpetrators of this vicious deadly crime.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Jokes on Us -- Pakistani Blasphemy Fraud Strikes Again

Not actual mob, I just found them to be better looking.
Between the snubbing of Pakistani President Zardari at the NATO Summit in Chicago, to the Facebook/Twitter debaucle which led Pakistani authorities to claim that Interpol would be supporting them in preventing social networking sites from creating havoc with free speech -- it's been a real joke of a week for Pakistani's.

Now it also seems that with tensions high throughout the country, snooker players are the first to feel the heat. Pakistan Today reported earlier today that in Lahore "a young Christian man has been charged with burning 'holy pages'" which were for some odd reason placed in a box and tied to -- get this: an electricity pole (yes, it is that stupid) "after he had an argument with some Muslim boys over a snooker game in Muhalla Siddiqabad area of Farooqabad, Sheikhupura district."

Dangerous times these are folks, as Sajid Inayat Masih (age 20) learned the hard way when he decided to stick up for himself while sinking some pockets -- rule number one for Christians: DON'T TALK BACK. Apparently that's a one way ticket into a cold Pakistani cell. As per usual, showing their vastly peaceful ways the hooligans that argued with our young Mr. Inayat decided that they could never allow an infidel to walk away so arrogantly unscathed from them -- clearly lion-hearted macho men that they are -- two days later they set the mullah's after him. (Can you smell the sarcasm reeking from that sentence?)

Following in the steps of other fellow delusional heroes they decided to gather a mob, scare the living daylights out of every Christian in the area -- many of whom fled their homes in anticipation of the joyous radical jihadist sport of hunting down random Christians.

And so on this past Canadian long-weekend Friday, Sajid Inayat was arrested by Farooqabad Police and charged under Section 295-B of Pakistan's beloved draconian Blasphemy Law which states that "willful desecration of the Holy Quran or use of an extract in a derogatory manner punishable with life imprisonment". So this young man's entire life has been ruined because he played snooker -- kids, can you see all your parents nodding their heads and saying "see, this is why we always told you not to leave the house."

According to Sajid's cousin Irfan, “Sajid was heading to his shop [of construction material and scrap] on Friday morning when he came across the Muslim boys with whom he had a squabble the other day. The boys accused Sajid of setting fire to a box fixed on a nearby pole…he asked them why he would do such a thing but on their constant prodding, he dared them to do whatever they wanted and walked away.Why would he do that indeed?

More importantly, what idiot decided to put pages of the Quran in a box and tie them to a pole?

You don't hear people asking those obvious questions often do you?

Irfan goes on to say, "we informed local Muslim leaders about the acrimony between Sajid and the Muslim boys and they told us that they would consider the matter after Isha prayers. However, around 5pm the police took Sajid in its custody and registered a case against him [FIR No. 297/12] under Section 295-B on the complaint of one Muhammad Sharullah Zaman.

The chief of local religious organization Karwaan-e-Islam assures local Christians that they will not be harmed and encourages the poor saps that left their homes and belongings to come back.

According to Pakistan Today, Sheikhupura District Police Officer Dr Haider Ashraf has stated that Sajid has been sent to the prison on judicial remand, quoting “the matter is of serious nature and we are investigating it from all angles,” he added that the enquiry was being conducted by a SP rank official and justice would be administered on merit. Haider also insists that although the situation was tense on the first day that things are "under control and there is no imminent threat to Christian families settled in the area” -- no doubt this does not apply to snooker players and insolent infidels.

I for one agree with Dr Haider Ashraf, he seems like a smart guy -- so I suggest they remove Mr. Muhammad Sharullah Zaman from the comfort of his spiderman bedsheets and remand him until this merit based "enquiry" is finished. I'm looking forward to seeing brother Sajid on the outside.

When will this end?

Thursday, May 10, 2012


It's not the first time I've discussed intercession (click here to read one of the first posts on this topic) or the impact of prayer but I just saw this video -- shared on Facebook by Rachelle Mainse and I thought I just need to keep passing this around!

There's a comment below this video where someone says "wow the things that are being revealed to me are the things that he's sharing in this video" and honestly I am SO there with those people. It's so humbling and such a joy that feeling when you know that what you KNOW is not uncommon to others -- not uncommon to my parents -- or my friends in Christ -- or the little girl sitting in the middle of a field half way across the world -- or the boys playing soccer somewhere below the equator -- God's revealing Himself to US ALL!! It's awesome awesome awesome!! I could keep repeating that word but I think you get the picture that I'm clearly just so excited and I want it for everyone -- I want you all to feel this. Let's do this together and intercede for our community.

PC's Once Upon a Blessing - Episode 1

Good morning beautiful people!

I thought I'd share a chuckle with you all this morning!

As I write this it's just past 7am my time and I am headed for a fabulous day of studies but before I get to that I thought I'd share something positive with you all!

Most of you know that I recently spent some time at the National Student Forum in Ottawa recently and was privileged to be able to sit and listen to fellow students, Member Parliaments, Staffers and other wonderful people such as Thanh Campbell, Nazanin Afshin-Jam MacKay,  and Father Raymond Desouza -- all of whom discussed their work, their faith, and stories that shaped their understanding of God, life, and Canada today.

Alright maybe not in those exact words but it's not that far of a reach. I learned so much from all of them and I was so touched by all of their testimonies that I thought wouldn't it be amazing to lift each other up and share our own?

Sharing our miracles, blessings -- stories about how and when we first REALLY met Jesus in our own lives, how God has changed us or lifted us out of our troubles -- or even just why we feel so blessed to be Christians.

Although I think it would be utterly fabulous if you guys would write and share all of your testimonies with me I know some of you may not -- so I encourage you to do it wherever you do want to! On Facebook, make your own vlog, tweet it, tell your mom and dad or neighbor or co-workers -- but do share! It's the most spiritually satisfying act you could do for yourself (selfish though it may sound), but also for the person listening. It's a great way to sow seeds, just encourage each other, or just because it's so humbling and awe-inspiring remembering all the amazing things that God has done for us every day of our lives.

So as my first testimony I'll share a couple of small miracles that I've experienced...

In 2000 while the world was going on about the millennium and ripping their hair out buying water bottles and canned meat -- my grandmother passed away. She was the only grandparent I had known -- and sad as this event was in my life -- it was further eclipsed by the fact that due to certain differences, prior to her sudden depth of illness I had stopped talking to her. I loved my grandmother so much, I can't even tell you how it broke my heart that we hadn't spoken in a few months and then she fell ill. She called my mother and I and told us and we rushed over; all three of us weeping and asking for forgiveness. Yes, we forgave each other immediately, after all no matter who was right or wrong we adored each other. Besides my mother, there really has been no other woman in my life that has influenced me as much as my grandmother did.

She passed away and it fell upon my mother to carry out her last wishes and take her body back to Pakistan, to our village; and I wouldn't be left behind -- I begged to go with them. I couldn't let my mother do this alone. Though we held a funeral service here in Canada -- the rest of the funeral and burial would take place a couple of days later due to the time it took to get to the village in Pakistan. This is where our first miracle occurred. My mother cherished her own mother in a way I could only compare to my own feeling for my mum. So we had done everything we could with the help of family and by the grace of God to give her the respect that we knew she deserved in her funeral. My mother so lovingly chose fresh flower displays to surround grandmother and she didn't want anything less from anywhere else -- so my father and I and mum went to a packing store and much to the surprise of the workers told them we needed all of the funeral flowers packed in the most delicate of way so as to take them to Pakistan with us.

Part of me knew that it wouldn't last. It was just so heartbreaking, nothing else seemed to matter and we were holding on to anything we could because it was all we had left. My father took us to the airport and sent us off with a prayer. The flight was horrendous -- and for those of us who have flown from Canada to Pakistan or vice versa you have probably experienced the delays which sometimes border on ridiculous -- for us it was almost 8 hours on the tarmac. With every hour that ticked by the morbidity and sadness of the situation grew ------- but fast forward to Pakistan ------- it's hot, it's night time and we still have hours to go by car before we reach the village.

When we finally got there it was even more overwhelming than we were ready to face. All of our extended family, the entire village -- people I couldn't recognize milling around me, patting my head -- wailing. I could barely cry anymore. It was pure confusion. And then we started unpacking waiting for the worst. The first box opened, the second, the third, and so on and box after box of pristine still fresh like they had just been cut from their stems the flowers came out. We were in shock. God took care of us even then...

There was more hardships and more miracles in the days to come. Issues with family and friends, sadness and anger and forgiveness -- as is what happens in such times. We stayed in Pakistan for a few weeks, after such a long and physically/mentally/spiritually draining journey it just wouldn't have been feasible for my mother and I to travel back right away. Sitting at home was becoming tiresome as well though, so my mother and I did one of the only things we have ever been able to do for entertainment in Pakistan -- we drove around and looked at the sights and stores.

As we drove, we passed many things many sights and smells and sounds but there came one road where my mother was adamant we stop. She had been drawn to a shop with wooden furniture in it -- and almost immediately she found what she wanted. It was a deep cherry colored solid wooden console with a matching carved mirror. If you've ever met my mother you'll know like I do that regardless of situation, when she decides something there is no turning back.

The table and mirror were packed to the best of the furniture makers abilities and with our own suitcase each it was the right number of pieces -- but I was still concerned about how we were supposed to be taking these huge pieces of furniture to Canada.

My mother's only recently told me this: before my grandmother passed away she had shown her a video of the house that we had just bought -- literally just bought, and we were moving into it the day that my mother and I had ended up having to go to Pakistan -- she told me grandmother loved our new house, even marking two rooms as her own (one of which I'm currently using as my room!). We had nothing of hers in this house but our own thoughts, and we didn't take any inheritance either -- but my mum wanted to take something back with her to keep in our new home as a reminder of her mother and the love that they shared.

Apparently, as strange as it was for me to understand at that moment -- that token was a huge console and mirror set.

At the airport in Pakistan we were faced with the usual challenges and the usual solutions (aka nothing money couldn't fix). But even though we made it past check-in and had paid everyone in full once we went to drop off our luggage we were told that our furniture just would not go. It was big, awkwardly shaped, heavy -- it just wouldn't do! Conversation after conversation took place with worker after worker and our family had already left us there to tend to ourselves. With barely any cash in hand we talked at last with the airline manager on duty. He heard our story, he apologized for our circumstances and gave us a sum -- he said if you pay me this much right now I will let this go -- and then he promptly walked away to let us figure it out. My mother was about ready to weep and I was ready to break the furniture; so we stood there shaking and at once my mother opened her hands looked up and cried "God help us".

He came towards us very quickly like the wind and I kid you not when I tell you I did not see a face or even an exact shape. He was tall almost like a long shadow, and my mother can't remember much else either -- but he came to us and placed in my mothers open hands the exact amount of money she needed at that time. Then in what seemed to be a blink of the eye -- he was gone.

We stared at the money together, rejoicing and thanking God and went in search of the man that saved us but there was no one to be found. After paying the manager and getting our luggage sorted out, my mother and I kept searching, kept asking people if they saw anyone there -- we just wanted to say thank you but there was no one around to say it to.

What more could it be? This was our miracle, pure and simple.

We came home with joy in our burdened hearts -- and to my dad's surprise with furniture. I didn't understand it then, how this token was supposed to remind us of my grandmother -- how any of this even related to her; but it didn't have to. God was always watching us, He was always there with us every step of the way -- carrying us when we wept, comforting us as we mourned -- He was there reminding us that in every moment of our lives He is with us; and that my grandmother was safe in His rest.

Some people still might think this is too trivial to be a miracle or too much of a stretch but after all these years, and the many things that have changed in our lives and our home -- that console and mirror still sit there in our front foyer; still shining as bright as the moment we saw them in the store with not a scratch on them even though we throw our keys/mail/purses and so forth on the table every day. Every day they remind us of the small miracles that God blesses us with, and every day they remind me of how much my grandmother loved me -- even though we couldn't always show each other.

Anddddddd....... now it's your turn! Post your comments, share your stories and I'd really love to add them here and keep adding them so that others (like myself!) can be blessed by them as well! Our community is a troubled and persecuted one but also a faithful one. I know you have all been mightily blessed as I have been!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Life is the Greatest Gift Our Parents Give Us.

This is so overdue, I started thinking about this issue as it relates to our lives and our culture about two years ago specifically and started writing this post in February -- it's been sitting in the draft bin since. I think it's finally time to finish and publish it!

There are several reasons for which I've decided to cover such a controversial topic, especially still controversial within our Pakistani Christian community. It may be discussed quite a bit within mainstream Western media/politics/society: the pros, cons and everything in between, but it's still VERY much a taboo topic for us. However, in my short time on this planet I know that it's an issue that has been and probably will continue to affect us in the future.

Let me just get this out of the way right off the bat: by talking about an act that is post-sexual, I am by NO MEANS condoning extra-marital physical relations (for neither men nor women). I am also by no means under the illusion that it doesn't happen - and neither I think should anyone else be. I know many people who're about to state "Oh no! Not my kids!" and perhaps you're right, in fact I pray that you are... but then this post is not for you.

I wrote this blog specifically for 3 groups of people:
1. Unmarried people having extramarital affairs.
2. Men and women who have gone through voluntary abortions.
3. Anyone who is contemplating abortion as an option to escape... no matter what it is you need to escape from.

I won't be using any vivid images and medical mumbo-jumbo to scare you out of it - or for those of you that have experienced it - I don't want to sit here and tell you that you're doomed for eternity. Instead, what I want to do is to help you heal; help you to overcome your black hole.

That's really what pregnancy out of marriage becomes for most, especially females in our culture. There is (in most cases) a huge stigma attached to dating in general -- which is a whole other subject (and I'm not here to condone or oppose that either) BUT there is one thing I'd like to point out:

Have you all heard the quote: "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive."

I feel like, when you are trying so hard to live a double life -- split between family, society and the part of you that wants independence/the right to "do as you please" or "see whom you please":
a) it takes a ridiculous amount of energy - both mentally and physically, to keep yourself "out of trouble"
b) your deception causes YOU far more spiritual damage than anyone else
and c) you can NOT just tell "one lie"

Clearly I'm speaking from experience here, I have lied. I know everyone has -- and the consequences I've faced gave me a greater understanding of what any kind of deceit does to a person; but I find it's especially harmful when what we're hiding is so... well... HUGE. This is when you'll find that anything you do, especially in your youth/younger adult years (and to be honest throughout your life) that you KNOW is not "right" - or against the wishes of your family (or maybe against the wishes of your church/friends/workplace/whatever it is that you hold dear) - it becomes a GATEWAY SIN.

Em, yes I made that up, I think. Just give me a chance here.

What I mean by GATEWAY SIN is that it allows us the opportunity to go deeper in our sins, and really even ADD to the initial problem with greater sin. Hiding is never easy, especially when quite often we tell ourselves that we're hiding more to PROTECT our loved ones than for our own selfishness. We allow our sin to lead our judgement and understanding, instead of God.

What does God say to us about abortion?

Honestly, He didn't actually write the 'word' abortion into the bible.. a gentleman recently warned me "not to attribute to the Word of God that which it does not contain". Does that mean this issue is settled? So God didn't say don't abort your unborn child -- but as my dear new friend (Miss Alexandra Goldy) recently pointed out after hearing that statement: "WHAT ABOUT THOU SHALT NOT MURDER?"

What about murder indeed.

God's Word not only talks about murder, but about life! In Jeremiah 1:5 God tells us that He knew us before we were formed in the womb. How could a person be known before birth if they did not exist as a person? Luke 1:15 states that John the Baptist will be "filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb", which means that the baby in the womb has a soul for the Holy Spirit to fill. The bible even talks about how aware fetuses are in the womb -- John jumped his mother's belly when he felt the presence of the unborn Jesus near him. Can you imagine that? An excited fetus!

How is any of this possible? If we believe in the bible, if we are able to hold the truth of our salvation and to follow Jesus as our Lord and Savior than how could we not believe that life IS life even before we understand it to be. Not by our own calculations, but by the will of God.

Here in Canada, the issue of abortion and the beginning of life is being raised all over recently. In an article from the CBC -- they discuss how current political party leaders will be dealing with the abortion debate, and some of the issues surrounding it.

"Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth, who represents Kitchener, Ont., introduced the private member's motion calling for the committee. Woodworth says current Canadian law defines the beginning of human life as the moment when a child has fully emerged from the mother's birth canal, a dated concept that needs to be re-examined in the context of modern medical knowledge.

The motion will get one hour of debate on April 26. Then it drops to the bottom on the order of precedence, and gets another hour of debate when it returns to the top of the list in a few weeks' time. The House is expected to vote on the motion either in June or September after the summer recess."

 Another article via details the ProLife movement and this weeks ENORMOUS ProLife rally that will be held in Ottawa (Thursday, May 10, 2012). Actually I'm going to be honest this one especially peeves me off because it makes Canadians -- specifically Canadian youth that are speaking up against abortion seem like mindless morons that are out for a good time, having somehow been recruited into being ProLife activists.

It's not political. Legislation that allows for legal abortion has made abortion itself a political act; but being pro life is NOT -- not for me at least, nor for the many I have spoken to. It's a matter of faith, and conviction by the understanding that God has given to us through His Word.

The issue is one that touches close to my life as a future doctor, and as one who has witnessed how abortion has affected girls in our OWN Pakistani Christian community, both here in Canada and in Pakistan. I will never "out" anyone but it's time we get our heads wrapped around that reality and realize that there are young women -- mothers who have no children because for whatever reason they felt that it would be better easier -- less detrimental to them in some way to abort the life that grew in their bodies than to face the rest of us with a child.

It literally brings me to tears. I can imagine what parents must be feeling, thinking of their own daughters and themselves experiencing that shame. Believe me I know what shame is, and I know what it feels like to disappoint my parents -- we have all gone through it to some extent. My question for us today though, is really what have we become as a community that we have so ostracized our women that they feel such fear-panic-hopelessness-confusion-shame-selfishness. Enough to give up on the life of another.

I want to share two testimonies with you all that I was blessed and heartbroken to hear at TheCall Detroit last November; one from a woman-- and the other from a man:

What's my point in sharing all this. I don't think consequences should be taken away from us -- we need consequence. It's one of the main reasons I don't believe abortion should be legalized; it takes away consequence for those who need to face their actions. God gave us consequence because it turns us back to truth. To face what we fear and when we do and we learn to turn even those hard situations and devastating moments in life back up to God He keeps purifying us. He keeps working within us. He keeps loving us and changing us and reminding us and lifting us up and saying DAUGHTER YOU ARE MINE. SON YOU ARE MINE AND I WILL NOT LET YOU FALL INTO YOUR SIN. I have bought you. I have paid in full and I will not give up on you.

The black hole that I'm talking about now is not one that is uncommon to humanity. It's not uncommon to women before us -- the shame is not one that others have not faced but we MUST learn to face it. We must learn to hold fast to God even when we make the wrong choices in life and falter. He will and He always does get us through it.

It's hard for us to look at a couple that had to marry early because they chose to have a sexual relationship before they should have. It's hard for us to respect a woman that chooses to give birth to a child out of wedlock. But it's not about looking or respecting -- it's about loving. We must still love them-- and love their children; not by telling them it's OK (because trust me they know they did wrong, and everyone in this world will make sure they know it), but as a community we need to give them a chance to face their consequences and teach them to turn those situations back up to Jesus.

There's so much more to say about this but I'll just leave you with my last thought for tonight:

Abortion is not a quick way out-- and for those who are in Christ-- it's a regret that I would never want a sister or brother of mine to face; especially not alone.

Monday, May 7, 2012

PC Vlog - "Christian-on-Christian Hate"

After four long and slightly disheartening days of attempting to get this video log online (thanks a lot YouTube!) -- it's finally here!!

"In my first video log I go back to the reason why I started blogging and how it affected me. Although it's directed specifically to the Canadian Pakistani Christian community -- from what I've learned and heard lately -- it's an issue that affects the body of Christ all over the world. We have the truth, let's rejoice in it together."

Thursday, May 3, 2012

April 30th- My Speech @ the National Student Forum (Best Time Ever!)

Hey everyone! I recently had the INCREDIBLE opportunity to speak to a group of wonderful Canadian students and Member Parliaments at a Parliamentary Luncheon during the National Student Forum in Ottawa (our nation's capital)! I can't even begin to express what an honor it was not only being able to share my testimony with them but to be able to spend time with these people - many of whom I would now gladly consider friends. 
So clearly the Pakistani in me had so much more to share than time permitted so I did cut it a bit short so as to avoid hearing the snores of my gracious audience! But here it is in full; enjoy!


Good afternoon everyone,

First off I want to thank the Student Forum for giving me this amazing opportunity to speak with all you accomplished people! Thanks especially to MP David Anderson, and the lovely Ms. Joycelin Ng.

I’m sure you’ll all agree that it’s been a wonderful experience this far and I’m looking forward to the rest of the forum!

Before I begin I wanted to attest to why I believe I am here speaking to you all today. When I was younger I always wanted God to use me and give me lots of opportunities to do something positive in this world. It was almost a demand from me to God – I wanted so badly to know what His plan was for me, to show me what I was supposed to do; that was when my mother would remind me to remain humble and wait on the Lord – to let the spirit simmer and work in me and that when it was time -- I would know it. Now that I’m older I’ve finally gained a bit of wisdom and learned to wait but to my surprise – and a realization of all that I don’t know, it’s now when God’s thrown me out here and said “You are ready now.” So thank God for that and for how He’s working in my life – and for bringing me here to share my testimony with all of you!

I was invited today to share some of my experience about my life as a Conservative Christian blogger, and as an activist for religious freedom here in Canada and in my country of heritage - Pakistan; but when I thought about it, what I really wanted to do is encourage you all and give you a couple of reminders – beginning with opportunity.

Recently I had the opportunity to be on TV; on a show some of you might have heard of The Arena with Michael Coren on Sun News Network – if you haven’t seen it you really must! The opportunity was fabulous; but being a perfectionist I am still a bit put off by the fact that I got the terrorist group Al Qaeda mixed up with the terrorist group Pakistani Taliban, big faux pas in the news world; and I am sure that with the efforts they put in that they really like to get credit for their own “accomplishments”. So I’ll try to keep myself on track and not confuse anything I’d like to say here.

When I was very young, my mother – a nurse educator in Pakistan – had the opportunity to come and study here in Canada, at McMaster University in her field of work. My father was a Major in the Pakistani army at that time, and when my parents realized what coming to Canada could mean for their family, for their daughter – me, they packed up what little they could transport and immigrated here with me. From a life of what many would see as financial ease, to a life of near impoverishment – but always with the foresight and knowledge that here in Canada, I would be able to excel without the kind of prejudice I would face in Pakistan as a CHRISTIAN woman.

In Pakistan - as I shared with some of you earlier and as many of you already know: religious freedom is literally a foreign concept. From the oppressive use of the Sharia Law that governs it, to the politically driven religious masses that control it – Pakistan is the beloved and feared home of tens of millions of Christians, Ahmadi, Hindus, Sikhs and other religious groups.

In a gist, this is what I blog about – what I fight against, and who I fight for.

For me, every Christian child, woman or man that dies in Pakistan because of this persecution deserves to have their story told. Every impoverished community that has no hope of developing – of giving their children equal opportunity at education, jobs, and a bright future deserves a voice.

So — getting back to opportunity;

Having the chance to grow up here in Canada I count myself fortunate to never have wasted a chance for unique experiences – I’ve worked as everything from babysitter, lifeguard and PR rep-- for airlines, gas stations and Kentucky Fried Chicken --and volunteered just about wherever I could – in fact as a Med student I had the opportunity to volunteer and shadow a Doctor in Pakistan, not too long ago --- this was in a small clinic in a poor area of the city of Karachi; one evening at a house call we came to the aid of a local boy who was severely dehydrated and weak and the Dr. decided that he would put the boy on an IV at home to get some fluid into him. After prepping the boys arm, and promptly dropping the IV needle on the dusty floor the good Dr. cited the 30 second rule and popped the needle into the boys arm – and it didn’t take years of medical education that I’ve had now for me to know that wasn’t exactly the right move. A small example but it’s a microscopic look at how quality of life and care in Pakistan has degenerated overall and for minority populations it’s really taken a turn for the worst.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sharing in the Agony of Our Own - a Pakistani Christian Family Cries Out for Help.

It's 230am, I am so blessed by this week and have so much to share but before anything else I really wanted to forward this letter published by the Pakistani Christian Post to you all. This man and his family are reaching out and asking for help in their time of need and I think if we can spread his story around as much as possible God will lead them to the right person in the right time -- God will by His grace use this family like the multitude of individual stories coming out of Pakistan to do His Will and give this family refuge and peace.

Click here for the original posting.


I Paul D’Souza along with my family are in danger at the hands of Powerful Activist of Sunni Therik & Businessman Mohammed Ashiq Hussain & Islamic Muslim Fundamentalist in Karachi Pakistan who have lodged a FIR # 210/11 of Blasphemy case 295 C against me and all my family members in Mehmoodabad police station and also a renowned Mufti in Karachi Mufti Haji Moin Ahmed has issued Fatwa against our family that whoever Muslim kills us shall be rewarded, the arrest warrant for me and family have been issued, please spare time and read what agony me and all my family has been facing.

Our family has been facing agony and pain for the last 6 years as in 2006 my younger brother Trevor was kidnapped tortured and forced to accept Islam by his Employer Maulana Imran Baig, when my brother did not accept Islam, Maulana Imran Put a false Blasphemy case against him, and due to the powerful influence of Muslims in his terrorist organization Lashkar -e-Tayaba which the whole world know is a strong jihadi terrorist organization in Pakistan now operating with some new name in Pakistan & which got exposed because of my brother Maulana Imran was furious to kill all our family members due to which we could not return to our home where our whole family use to live, so we lived far from city and did not know where my brothers and his family is living, but after few years got news that my brother Trevor along with his wife & son have managed to leave Pakistan, but I am not still aware that where my younger brother Jude Julius is? we were living in the fear all the time, but Maulana Imran´s intention of taking revenge from our family was not over he had been searching for our family all these years as you all are aware that Radical Muslim

Fanatics are not satisfied until they either kill us or get us booked in a false Blasphemy Case which is the most common and easiest way of taking revenge he somehow got to know about our whereabouts & last year when my son Larryson was burning some old garbage and papers outside our home some Sunni Therik activist were passing by they said what are you doing he said its none of you matter, and then they started shouting that this boy is burning pages of Holy Quran and started to beat him and injured him they broke his leg and hands and left him bloodied no one from the area came to help, instead few of the area Muslim men also stared beating him, we rushed our son to nearby hospital and he was admitted there, I went to nearby police station to report the incident but police did not pay much attention, after two days on Friday after prayers some men came outside our home and started shouting that bring Larryson out he is a Blasphemer as he has intentionally burned pages of Holy Quran and also bring his father out as we know well that he has been very active in converting Young Muslim boys to Christianity by getting them jobs, he is a blasphemer and needs to be punished, only my younger daughter was at home at that time, she called me and told me everything on the phone, we were very afraid I told her as soon as they leave come to my work place and I called my wife and told her to do the same I rushed to the hospital & got my son discharged from the hospital he was admitted in, we could not go back to our home and now once again we were running for our lives, we reached St. Jude’s Church parish where we were regular members of the church, we told the whole incident to the Parish Priest Fr. Richard and he helped us to stay in the church premises and also tried to get help from Human rights organizations in Karachi for which we are very thankful, but after few days we got the news that a very powerful Activist of Sunni Therik & Business Associate of Maulana Imran Baig´s relative Mohammed Ashiq Hussain has lodged an FIR against me and my family in Mehmoodabad Police station, Karachi, and also got a Fatwa Issued by a Renowned Mufti of Karachi to kill us, we have somehow after many efforts of Human Rights organization and the priest managed to Flee from Pakistan and cant disclose our location due to security but hope that our voice and cry for help is reached to human rights organization as we Christians in Pakistan are voiceless and only hope that our voice, agony, pain and trauma we go through is felt and known throughout the world as now we have shall apply for Asylum in the country we are living in now, but do not know what future has for me and our children but need to know what was our fault only that we are Christians and living in a Muslim country Pakistan our whole family is broken we do not know if we can ever meet again or see each other.

We need prayers & would be grateful if our voice is raised by Christian organizations throughout the world.

Paul D’Souza
A Pakistani Christian.

(Pakistan Christian Post published this heart breaking letter of Mr. Paul D’Souza with copies of First Information Report FIR lodged in Mahmoodabad Police Station, Karachi and other relevant documents which can be forwarded to any organization which steps forward to support this Christian family or directly wishes to contact Mr. D’Souza)