Stories of Impact
From Impossible Places
I recently returned home from Pakistan after visiting many communities without any form of a gospel witness. In 24 years of ministry, it was one of the most impactful and eye-opening international trips I’ve ever experienced. This is the 2nd most populated Muslim country in the world, having a strong presence of extremism, along with an abundance of Christian persecution. Yet, we met many Muslims who came to Christ simply by listening to the Treasure and Messenger audio Bibles!
We also had the opportunity to visit the refugee camps filled with thousands of Afghans fleeing the horrors of the Taliban.
Rescuing these precious people has required involvement from many people. Brave Pakistani leaders risked their lives to pass rugged terrain, Taliban check points, and newly planted landmines. And they did this all to bring people to freedom!
Meeting these frightened refugees and courageous rescuers was an indescribable privilege.
The part of the trip that shocked me the most was when we met hundreds of modern day slaves. I was naïve to the reality of 4.5 million people living in hellish conditions, treated like animals while being forced to work 13 hours every single day. These are slaves!!
One of the staples of the economy of Pakistan are brick kilns. Some 15,000 cover the landscape in every direction and their labor is made up entirely of these slaves. Muslim business owners prey upon vulnerable people in neighboring communities and seek to cover some kind of medical expense or debt that requires a loan. Once the business owner pays these bills, the individual, and in many cases, the family, become that owner’s slave. Among the hundreds we met, there was only one story of a person who was able to obtain their freedom!
When quotas of making bricks are not achieved, these slaves are punished. Food is withheld, women are sexually abused, children are beaten, and further financial obligation is added to their growing debt. To make matters even worse, most of these slaves have never heard the gospel message!
Our team was able to visit several brick kilns and speak with the slaves. Owners agreed only after we paid for 24-hours of their freedom. As we shared about true freedom, the response was overwhelming!
- One woman who was forced by her owner to have 3 different abortions told us how God gave her the strength to forgive her master. Days earlier she was thinking of ways to kill this man who took her child on 3 occasions. Now, she is free from that bondage!
- Another man had vicious abdominal pain for several months. Bending over to make bricks had become impossible. As he heard the Gospel for the first time, the Lord healed his heart and his stomach simultaneously. He is free from pain and his heart is filled with joy.
- One elderly couple who had been enslaved for 10 years begged for release from their captive. The owner regularly beats them because he finds their production to be unacceptable. They literally begged me for freedom! As much as I wanted to fix their temporary physical situation, I found comfort in knowing they also decided to follow Jesus and would be growing daily by listening to their new tool – the Treasure!
Although being tormented daily, they can find rest and peace in their relationship with Jesus. Our partners on the ground are providing immediate food and medicine for these slaves, while also sharing the message of hope that sets them free!
Together in the Harvest,
Greg Kelley, CEO
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