11/09/2015, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Lahore, Christians build churches despite death threats

by Shafique Khokhar
The ‘Hope for Light’ association has already built three churches and has begun on a new one in Sehari, near Lahore. The building will serve Christian peasants whose existing church is too small. Earlier this year, Muslim extremists tried to intimidate a local Christian leader. "We hope that things will improve with time,” he said. However, he does not plan to change course because local Muslims support their projects.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – After receiving death threats earlier this year, the "Hope for Light" Christian Association has begun building a new church in the rural village of Sehari, Kasur district (35 km south-east of Lahore).

The village is home to 36 Christian families, who currently meet in a mud building Church that is too small to accommodate everyone. In view of the situation, Mass has to be celebrated outside.

After visiting the village, Rev Sohail Farman, who heads ‘Hope for light, said that the association would fund the construction of a new place of worship.

“Sehari is a small village of 200 houses,” said Sohail Farman. At least 36 belong to Christians who earn a living from farming.” In October, 'Hope for Light' began to build a church for them.

“We hope that people will benefit from this new place of worship and seek God through new blessings. We are doing our best to ensure that we can celebrate Christmas in the new church. The Muslim community is supporting this project all the way. "

"We are committed to our mission and we will continue to help poor communities build churches,” said Javed David, leader of the construction team. “They have a right to have a place of worship. This is our fourth church."

David himself told AsiaNews how earlier this, he received threats from Muslims, who warned him to stop building new churches. "This is a Muslim country and we cannot allow you to continue,” he was told.  At that time, "Hope for Light" was active in Shekhupura District.

"We hope that things will improve with time,” said Malvin Mall, a team member. “We just shifted our focus from Shekhupura to Sehari, but for sure we shall continue our work in Shekhupura."

"The change of focus is temporary,” added Ataurehman Saman, another member. “So far we have built three churches in Shekhupura and Jaranwala districts, Punjab.”

“In addition,” he said, “we run a school in a Church buildings open to Christians and Muslims who can learn to read and write together. We also provide a scholarship worth a thousand rupees a month (US$ 9.5) to three Christians and Muslims from Shekhupura."

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