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Pakistani Pastor And His Family Are Under Potential Death Threats By Muslim Extremists

ICC Note

 “It is a fact that if any Christian refuses to embrace Islam or any other desire of Muslims, that person could be implicated in a false case of blasphemy or even killed.”

By Jawad Mazhar

04/19/2011 Pakistan (ANS) — Another Pakistani Christian leader, along with his family, is among the growing number of Christians who are being subjected to death threats from Islamic extremists.

This was revealed to ASSIST News Service by the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), an interdenominational organisations working for Christians who are being persecuted because of their faith in Pakistan.

They are Pastor Javaid Austin, aged 60, a resident of Lahore and the father of three sons, Azeem, aged 26, Waseem Javaid, aged 24, and 23-year-old Naeem Javaid, and married to Rubina Javaid, are all under potential death threats by suspected Islamists.

Azeem, Waseem and Naeem, have completed their seminary studies with the Assemblies of God in Lahore, so they cane become pastors, and are actively involved in church activities along with their father.

Pastor Austin is chairman and a founding member of the Light of the City Church in Lahore, and has been an active member of the Pakistan Christian Welfare Council (PCWC) for the past 20 years.

He has his own catering business called the Sunny Tent Service in the locality through which he is nourishing his family. PCWC works with disabled children and is helping poor and needy Christian children with their studies.

On Thursday, April 7, 2011, the pastor went to the CLAAS office and told Mr. Joseph Francis, chairman of CLAAS Pakistan, that he had received death threats by unknown Muslim extremists. He the told his story saying that he used to conduct healing prayers and crusades in his church for disabled and sick people, and that not only Christians, but also Muslims, attended the prayer meetings “to be healed from their diseases.”

He informed CLAAS that, back in 2003, a disabled Muslim man who lived in another area of Lahore, met with the pastor and requested for him to pray for him. He then attended a prayer meeting and appeared to be very joyful with being prayed for.

Pastor Austin said, “He was very happy and satisfied and praised God, our Lord, and started attending regularly the prayer meetings.”

When the man saw that God was working in his life, he donated some land for the poor and needy people which included land where a church could be built and, at the same location, a Christian school could also be constructed.

He asked Pastor Austin to divide the land for a church, school and houses for 125 poor families, which he did.

However, when some local Muslims heard that a fellow Muslim had donated a large piece of land to Christians to build a Christian colony, they become furious. They wanted to to make sure a hold was put on the donated land and twice attacked the Christian community when they were gathered in the church for worship.

Finally they filed what local Christians believe was a “fake property case” against Pastor Austin in the civil court Lahore saying that he had occupied the land illegally, but when pastor showed the property documents to the court, the case was decided in the favor of Pastor Austin and the Christians he was helping.

After the legal case was finished, a Muslim extremist then filed another case against the pastor alleging that he was “forcefully converting Muslims to Christianity in his church” which was also proved “fake” and was decided in the favor of Pastor Austin.

On January 14, 2004, the local angry Muslim and some of his colleagues attacked the church during a prayer meeting and and then also attacked the Christian houses. Many Christian were injured and their houses were damaged.

The pastor, along with the community members, went to the nearby police station and registered a case against them, but ANS has discovered that the police did not take any legal action against the alleged culprits.

Pastor Austin informed CLAAS that since then, he has been receiving “continual phone threats,” that have “continued up until this day.” He has been told that he would face “severe consequences” if he didn’t give up the land.

A CLAAS Pakistan team, headed by Mr. Francis, visited Pastor Austin’s family on Sunday and were told by the pastor that the family was afraid of the threatening calls that kept coming from unknown extremists who said that they want to get back the church property and the Christian colony he has established.

“He has been told that if he doesn’t give up the land, he will be killed,” said a source close to the case.

The pastor realizes that these are not idle threats, especially after the recent killings of two brave leaders, Mr. Salman Taseer (Governor Punjab), and Shahbaz Bhatti (Minority Minister).

Mr. Francis assured the pastor, his wife, and their children, that CLAAS “is always there to help you in any situation.” He also told them that there are many national and international brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world who are standing with them through their prayers.

CLAAS is, however, says that it concerned about the recent series of attacks on Christian schools, churches and Christian colonies in Pakistan.

“They are facing difficulties and hurdles in Pakistan by the hands of Muslim extremists,” said Mr. Francis. “It is a fact that if any Christian refuses to embrace Islam or any other desire of Muslims, that person could be implicated in a false case of blasphemy or even killed.”