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MNN (04/25/06) – A Christian school headmaster has been released from prison.

Voice of the Martyrs’ Todd Nettleton says Parvez Masih was behind bars for five years, falsely charged under the country’s blasphemy laws.

Sources indicate that Muslims who ran a rival school reportedly became jealous of the success of Masih’s facility, Iqbal Memorial School . That’s when the trouble started. VOM reports that a teacher at the Muslim school is believed to have instigated the accusations against the Christian educator.

Unfortunately, Nettleton says, that’s not unusual. “The blasphemy law in Pakistan often is used as a weapon, if you have a dispute, if it’s a property dispute, if you have an argument. The police are open to locking up Christians, they’re open to hearing these charges. In the case of Parvez Masih, it then took five years to work through the court system to allow him to be released.”

VOM has been helping to support Masih and his family during his incarceration. The family has kept the Christian school running in his absence.

However, the financial hardship during his incarceration has not only put a strain on the family but has also hurt the school, causing an enrollment drop of nearly 50-percent.

As to continued ministry, Nettleton believes it will grow. “Christians, obviously, they know they’re facing persecution, they know that this law is out there. They just have to be cautious and be graceful in the way they communicate while at the same time being very clear with the message of the Gospel, being very clear about what they believe.”

And yet, the danger is not over. Nettleton says there’s an even more urgent prayer need. “We have heard stories in Pakistan before, of Christians being set free from prison only to be gunned down in the streets.”