A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. 3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; Isaiah 11: 1-3
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.Luke 2: 1- 7 NRSV
In October we received news from Imran that the family buffalo had unexpectedly died. This was a major loss for the family and for the school because the buffalo worked the fields and provided milk for the family and the children.
The Diaconate community in Altoona-Johnstown was able to provide the necessary funds so that a new buffalo could be purchased. Imran is a good negotiator. He was able to purchase the buffalo and her calf. The buffalo provides 3 gallons of milk per day! From Johnstown to Pakistan, we are making a difference!
Greetings from Pakistan and the children of Little Hearts of Faith Learning Center!
The children continue to do well. They have excellent learning abilities and are “extra” ordinary students! The children are not only receiving a good education, but are also supplied with food, clothes, books, notebooks and pencils, Along with their academic studies, they are getting religious education and take part in worship and prayer. Many can read Bible verses in Urdu (the language of Pakistan).
Each child is a gift from God! I have shared some pictures of them! Shaam is very shy but a nice boy while Nomi, look at that mischievous smile, can be very naughty at times!
Both Asad and Sahil are blessed with a keen ability to learn. Our Kinza works very hard and her sweet disposition makes her one of my favorites. Siblings Saad and Ansa are very charming. Bahadar has a humble and calm personality. His name in English means “Brave.”
Rabi, Minsa and Alisha are the best of friends and are always together. Brothers Raja and Adnan, just a year apart, are very good students!
The boys like to play cricket, but the girls must play inside at home. Every day the girls fear being kidnapped, raped, made to convert and even death. Because they are poor, they do not have computers or iPads to play games on.
The one subject which seems to be their favorite is English! Also, some do very well in Math and Science. We are very grateful for all the help we receive because it keeps our school running and the opportunity for our students to continue to learn.
Please keep us in your prayers and know that the children of Little Hearts of Faith pray for each of you!
Christian children in Pakistan working in the brickyards.
Our outreach to Imran Mustaq continues as he establishes a school for Christian children. In Pakistan, Christian children must change their name to one that is Muslim and convert to Islam to be accepted in a Muslim school. Parents who oppose these regulations have no choice but to remove their children from these schools to avoid bullying and mistreatment. Gathering a small group of children, including some who are orphans, Imran has taken on the personal responsibility of educating them by establishing a school separate and apart from the Muslim schools. Since any Christian reference would create unwanted and dangerous attention, Imran chose ‘Little Hearts of Faith Learning Center‘ for the school’s name.
The school day is filled with daily lessons that, along with primary study, includes religious education and Bible study. The faces we see remind us of our own children and grandchildren, working hard and learning together as a class… singing songs about Jesus and praying.
Imran encourages the children to take their studies seriously while instilling a love of God in their hearts and an understanding that God loves them unconditionally.
Little Hearts of Faith Learning Center is a safe place where they are not threatened or bullied for their faith. In his humble way, Imran is giving the children the space to cultivate their roots of faith.
Due to the lack of resources, only twenty-three students, age 3 to 15, can attend the school at this time. With no school building available, classes are held outside on the roof of a building. It is a format that resembles the “one-room schoolhouse” concept used in the United States in the last half of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth century. Hundreds of students could join the school if there was a school facility available. It is Imran’s dream to someday have a school that would allow more children the opportunity of a Christian based education. Sadly, the reality is that Imran struggles to maintain his “roof-top” school for the small number of students currently attending. As the school is established and accredited, the education quality the students will receive will permit them to go on to higher education. Imran is currently investigating the government requirements necessary to certify the school properly.
The students attend classes for three to five hours a day, depending on their age, and are given homework assignments to complete. Like all schools, the children have “playtime,” making do with what they have because there are no good playgrounds for them to use. If any of the children work (child labor is common and even includes the very young children), they do so on the farms or have been known to work in the factories making bricks.
The children need food, clothing, shoes, and school supplies (including pencils, writing tablets, teaching aids, etc.) as well as a permanent building that would be conducive to learning. Currently, there are two teachers, Imran, and his brother. They support the school and the children as best as possible from the wages they receive from their jobs.
Although both men are well educated, they are not permitted to have better-paying jobs because those better paying jobs are given to the Muslim community. Christian men and women are given jobs in the fields or other hard labor work. Many work in the brickyards making bricks. They are expected to produce 1,500 to 2,000 bricks per day, and their pay is about $5.00 per day, barely enough to survive in the most basic living conditions.
“Open Doors USA” is a non-denominational mission supporting persecuted Christians worldwide and reporting about Christian persecution wherever it is found. They recently posted the following update on Christian persecutions in Pakistan:
“Christians in Pakistan face extreme persecution in every area of their lives. Believers who have converted from Islam face the greatest levels of persecution, but all Christians are considered second-class citizens in this strongly Islamic country. They are given jobs perceived as low, dirty, and dishonorable, and can be bonded labor victims. Some Christians are among the middle classes, but they are still considered inferior to their Muslim counterparts and often face severe workplace discrimination. Christian girls are at risk of abduction and rape and are often forced to marry their attackers and coerced into converting to Islam.”
“Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws are used to target Christians, and Islamic extremist groups vehemently ‘defend’ these laws, including attacking or killing those believed to have contravened them. Christian churches do exist, but those who are active in outreach face severe persecution from society. Pakistan remains one of the hardest places to live as a Christian, and violent persecution against Christian and church buildings continues to be particularly bad.”
In addition to this information, the Pakistani government recently supported a law that defunded any program that offered protection for any persecution to Christians. Defunding protection laws means the Christians are fair game for persecution.
Imran and the children are grateful for their new friends in the United States and pray for them every day. They hope for the day when they can have their classes indoors with the school supplies they need to be better students.
If you would like to help Imran and the children, please contact Deacon Michael at: email@example.com or (814) 288-3036.
A GoFundMe page has been established by Deacon Michael for this worthy cause. https://www.gofundme.com/f/little-hearts-of-faith-learning-center
Donations of any amount go a long way in this part of the world and are greatly appreciated!