March 12-15, 2022
I arrived from Kotli, Azad Kashmir after visiting Gulpur Evangelical Church. It was five hours of journey through high elevation of mountains. I arrive around 10:00 pm in Rawalpindi. Next morning, I took public transport to travel from Islamabad to Faisalabad. It took me seven hours to travel to Gojra. Nayyer Das and his sister Easter Das on Behalf of Bishop Mano Rumalshah received me at Bus stand and drove me to Gojra. I grew up in Gojra, Punjab. Gojra was established in 1896, when the British deputy commissioner (James Lyall) established Lyallpur (today’s Faisalabad) District. Gojra has been a center of commerce known for its “mandi” (market) for cash crops. It is the 51st largest city of Pakistan by population. Church Missionary Society (CMS) set up its headquarters on the edge of the city. The road on which it is situated is known as CMS Mission road. On this road Iver Hostel for boys, St. Faiths Middle School for girls and St. Faith’s boarding School for girls were built for poor Christian children who were brought to Gojra for education. Next to this St. John’s Church was built where on Sunday morning about 400-500 people can worship regularly. I was born in Gojra on March 17. 1950. My father served here as Parish priest, Rural Dean, and Archdeacon of Lahore Diocese for four decades. It is now headquarters of the Diocese of Faisalabad. I arrived here on March 12. Diocese of Faisalabad is a rural Diocese. For me it was homecoming. March 13, 2022, On Sunday morning at 10:00 am 400 parishioners led me in a procession with a band and welcomed me inside St. John’s Cathedral. It was a joyous occasion for me to be with congregation of St. John’s Cathedral. I led the worship service in Urdu but preached my sermon in Punjabi. After church dozens of people came forward at Altar for me to lay hands. After church three pastors accompanied me to visit few homes for prayer, tea and lunch. We remained engaged till 5: 30 pm. March 13, 8:00 pm - 2:30 pm. We left Gojra at 7:00 p.m. to hold watchnight Prayer service at St. Augustine Church in village Satrah 10 miles away from Gojra. My father helped to build this church in 1970. He used to hold twice a year watch prayer service from 9:00 pm to 4:00 am. During this service three reading of scripture. three praise hymns and three intercessory prayers were offered. At 2:00 am, sick was brought forward for laying of hands for healing. Every time I come to St. Augustine’s church in Satrah we continue the same practice of watch night prayer and healing service. It was a powerful renewal and spiritual experience. I was engaged in ministry since 9:00 pm to 3:00 am tired but loved every minute of 19 hours of active engagement of ministry. March 14: 9-11 am Visit to Iver Hostel. We use to say Gojra is our Jerusalem where Spirit of the Lord dwells. There was revival of faith, harmony in spirit and a thriving ministry. Now many of its institutions are in ruins. Iver Hostel was institution where poor boys from rural communities were brought to receive education. Over 100 years Iver Hostel has helped to educate thousands of boys from poor rural areas. This institution has given seven Bishops, large number of priests and evangelists to Church of Pakistan. It has also given to nation several doctors, nurses, teachers to serve in Pakistan and overseas. It was sad to see this institution now is in ruins. There used to be 200 student supported by children’s fund and later Tear Fund. Mismanagement of
funds has caused this institution to lose her donors. What it means in reality that hundreds of students from Poor families have no more opportunity to receive education. Bishop Mono is new commissary Bishop and is trying to restore this institution. I prayed with clergy, laity and students of this institution to seek God’s blessings for the restoration of this very important institution to serve the poor. It is the same story of Girls school and St. Faith’s boarding school situated next to boys Iver Hostel. During this missionary journey I have been praying for “the Spirit help us in our weakness…. but the Spirit to intercede for us” that the clergy and lay leaders of this diocese like Nehemiah to build the broken walls of The Diocese of Faisalabad. While staying at the Bishop’s house after 52 years it brought lots of memories. One particular story I would love to share with you. Our father Sewak B. M. Augustine loved reading stories to us while we were growing in this house. He used to receive “Decision” magazine from Billy Graham, headquartered in the USA. My father would read in English and then translate into Urdu for us while we would sit next to him in our living room in the evenings. I remember very vividly one evening as our father told us a story of Dr. Graham’s crusade. I said, “Papa Ji, I would like to be like Billy Graham. Can I go around the world to preach about Jesus Christ when I grow up?” My father looked at this 10-year-old boy and smiled. I have no idea what he thought about my curious, bold, and ambitious desire to be on the world stage. I was a boy living in a midsize town in the Punjab. I had never traveled outside my own area except to the big city of Lahore. Our world was beautiful and we were fully satisfied where we lived. Who could have imagined sixty-two years ago that his son would go around the globe to take the gospel to people of many different races, nations, and cultures? I have learned that our God is a God of great possibilities. We now have this light shining in our heart, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves (2 Corinthians 4:7). I feel my call to serve around the globe as agent of the Gospel “as a prisoner of Christ Jesus, a prisoner in the Lord, an ambassador in chain, a captive of Christ scattering His fragrance” (Ephesians 6:20, 2 Corinthians 5:20).