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Mission Journey: March 10-11

Updated: Mar 12, 2022

Background History: In 2002 I was invited to present a paper on conflict between India and Pakistan on Kashmir. I wrote a paper “Peace with Justice.” Pakistan government arranged for me to share this paper before university intellectuals, university students and large number of press reporters. Kashmiris have been seeking for 77 years right of self-determination. Pakistan and India both are nuclear armed nations and it can be a flash point between them any day. This issue has been high jacked by Politicians and Islamic Mullas as fight between soldiers of Islam and Hindu infidels in India. In other words war in the name of religion. My stance on this issue that it is a human rights issue where Kashmiris have suffered for 77 years. Not through Jihad, but through peaceful mediation it should be resolved. During my visit to Islamabad, Pakistan in 2002, I was invited by Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir to visit refugee camps. While I was there I also looked to meet Kashmiri Christians. I was told that there were no Kashmiri Christians in Azad Kashmir. On 8 October, 2005 in Azad Kashmir an earthquake was registered a moment magnitude of 7.6 and had a maximum Mercalli intensity of XI (Extreme). Over 86,000 people died, a similar number were injured, and millions were displaced. It was considered the deadliest earthquake in South Asia. A small Christian mission “Potohar Mission” led by Rev. Ifrahim Matthew and his team in Rawalpindi, Pakistan organized compassion mission to bring tents, food. Clothing and household items to help the displaced Kashmir community. They also found opportunities to pray and share Christian message in refugee camps. They kept me informed about their work and prayed with me and kept looking to find Christian community there. Finally. God led Rev. Ifrahim Matthew and his team to a Kashmiri Christian family living in Gulpur, Azad Kashmir who lived there since 1933. This was a family comprised of seven brothers. They have several acres of land as their property. Rev. Ifrahim and his team member requested this family to grant a small piece of land that we can build a small church. Gulpur and it’s adjacent district Kotli is known as city of mosques due to the fact that there are more than three hundred mosques in this area. It is situated at elevation 579 meters (1,900 feet) above sea level. Finally, in 2015 Rev. Ifrahim and Rev. Arshad invited me to lay foundation stone of first church to be built in this area in 2000 years. I raised funds and in February 2016. We completed the building of a small church. I had again privilege to dedicate this newly built church as Gulpur Evangelical Church. Rev. Arshad John and his family has faithfully served this congregation and lived here in Gulpur area since 20 years. He started this ministry with a small number of Christians including his own family. Three times he has been jailed and few times beaten by local mullahs. He has persevered and established his ministry and friendship with local Muslim Community. On March 11, 2022 I led worship service of congregation of 60 persons in Gulpur Evangelical Church. Some of the parishioners had traveled as far as 50 kilometers. After worship service food was served and we all enjoyed our time of fellowship. After lunch for another two hours’ people asked me to pray, anoint and lay hands on them. It was rich opportunity of ministry in the name Jesus Christ. Next time I am here I shall stay there for a week to visit small Christian community scattered in this mountainous area. I would also like to visit some prominent Muslim leaders as a good will gesture. Rev. Arshad John travels to far flung areas where Christian individuals or families from Pakistan have found jobs and working in this area. He informed me that he has four small congregations’/house churches in an area of sixty kilometers. We give thanks to God for this miracle happening in planting of this new mission in this beautiful mountainous area which lies on the Poonch River. This river contains several notable waterfalls including the Lala Waterfall near the town of Kotli and Gulpur. I invite you to join me to pray and financially support work of my brother in Christ Rev. Arshad John. Impact: Gulpur is situated close to LOC border line between India and Pakistan. Rev. Arshad Shared with me a beautiful story of God using him in this area. A Muslim Pakistani non-commissioned army officer told him that he has a farm on which he raises goats, cows and buffaloes for milk and meat. His animals were attacked by disease and several died. This soldier asked him to pray for his livestock. Rev. Arshad fasted and prayed and blessed water and oil. He told him to anoint his animals with a sign of cross and sprinkle holy water over them. Few months later this Muslim soldier reported that disease is gone and his animals are healed. Praise God. Last year he was invited to speak at a conference Seerat UL Nabi- Life of Prophet Muhammad. It was unique opportunity for a Christian pastor to be given opportunity for 15 minutes. He shared his thoughts and Spirit led him to share the Word of God. At this conference large number of Muslim Scholars and government heads were present. After the conference County head asked if Christians have any problems that he can help. Rev. Arshad told him that he has faced difficulty since many years to register their church with government of Azad Kashmir. County head told him to fill all the paperwork and bring it to his office. Within a month there was registered. This is the first church built in this area in 2000 years and now officially recognized in the State of Azad Kashmir. Rev. Arshad has developed four more small congregations spread in different parts of this mountainous area. We pray and look forward to the growth of this Christian mission. I invite you to join me in prayers and to support this work of mission in progress

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