BPCA banner displaying Mark 16 vs 15-16: '15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.16 He who believes and is baptised will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned."'
Our officer Mehwish preaches from Psalm 91 to the eager group
After a recent report regarding our appeal for Christians from Bikiwind in Kasur was featured in Christianity Today, we gratefully received donations from Christians across the globe. The donations exceeded expectations and have enabled us to provide a full programme of restoration for the beleaguered families, of which many had lost everything they possessed and their ability to earn for this year after flood-related major crop devastation. (click here)
Our team have been busy helping the families and builders have been appointed now to rebuild seven mud houses that had been completely washed away in the deluge. This time, however, these seven houses are going to be built with a proper foundation, brick walls, and a one foot high concrete base that should protect them from major impact from future floods, which this particular community is prone to due to their land being close to low level and no flood prevention structures being in place. Work on the buildings has started but will take a few months to complete.
We are giving the families regular food parcels, and will continue to do so for two months, unless further donations are forthcoming. I remind our regular readers that this community lived off the land, they are farmers who depended on the produce of their hands for their survival. The entirety of their produce has been lost for the 37 families that we are specifically helping. (click here)
One of our donors has quite rightly asked that we provide the families with copies of scripture, that they might be fed spiritually and emotionally as well as physically. However, the majority of this rural community is illiterate, of no surprise to us at the BPCA as we are aware of and constantly campaign for better literacy levels for rural Christian minorities, for whom expectation has not risen of the low rate of 7% literacy for the last six years we have been an entity. This despite Britain's annual £225 million in aid to Pakistan for holistic educational reform - so perhaps now more of you might be willing to challenge your local MPs to ensure some of these funds are earmarked to level this disparity. Anyway we digress, returning to the problem of how to share the word of God, we suggested audio bibles, as when our Chairman held a stall for us at the CRE Exhibition earlier this year a group who had been peddling their wares, showed him a solar panel bible that would suit this very purpose and was available in Urdu. That being said we contacted the group and agreed a remarkable fee of £1500 for 60 bibles to be shared with the whole Christian community of Bikiwind. We have placed an order and hope the bibles will be available in the coming weeks.
Fortunately your BPCA team does not take their outreach ministry so lightly, and simply handing out bibles seemed to us to be an onerous and unproductive task. Besides, what good would a bible be without a passion to listen to it. This community rarely attended church services as the nearest churches are quite a few miles away and their only means of transport is pedial. Occasionally and by no means frequently a local Catholic priest visits to enact prayers and share a short sermon with the village, so these villagers are not very erudite in their biblical knowledge, moreover their passion for church and the things of God is limited through lack of experience. They are however resolute Christians who will not give up their God. For us an obvious course of action was to hold the BPCA's first ever evangelical outreach for these wonderful passionate, but undiscipled Christians. When we told the community our plans they were so excited and this reciprocally enthused us, so we went ahead and organised the event knowing this would give local people a deeper understanding of the Source of their blessing.
A large tent was hired and some carpets and we set it all up for Sunday 6th September 2015. Our expectations were that between 30 - 40 local people would attend, so you can imagine our great surprise when in excess of 50 people eventually crammed into our tent, despite the blazing heat of our summer sun. People prayed, they sang songs of worship giving glory to God and heard the word of God through Mehwish Bhatti, our lead officer, who has actually been running an on-line ministry in Pakistan for many years. People were really enthused and stayed for hours after service to question Mehwish on doctrine and to obtain personal prayers including prayers for healing and release from financial problems.
After the church service we enjoyed a communal meal with everyone who came, and it gave us a chance to mingle with the community and share more intimate words of encouragement. The meal brought families together in fellowship and amazingly the discussions were all about God it was a perfect end to a church service pilot. Moreover the programme was a first step in building a more proactive community able to take over ownership of maintaining Christian learning.
The time was now about 12pm, as we started our church service at 9am. We moved our focus onto a free medical camp that we had set up concerned that there were a number of sick individuals, who were clearly not receiving any medication, care or assessment despite some very serious prevailing diseases in the region. The villagers had never experienced anything like it and were inviting friends and families from all the surrounding areas. We were concerned that we would run out of medicines and time but the medical team stayed back a few hours and facilitated their care for free moved by the overwhelming needs of this community.
People attending free health check-ups explained their medical problems to the assigned staff nurse. Their poor health conditions were a clear indicator that people are suffering badly with poverty and medical illness.
The majority of patients who came for health assessments had pain in their joints, a fever or stomach aches and diarrhoea. The medical team explained that these conditions were due to a lack of clean water and poor diet. BPCA's team provided them all with free medicine according to their established need. We treated over 100 patients with a range of different medical problems.
Some children who were sick with fever and throat infections were also treated and a number of patients had contracted the potentially fatal Dengue fever, however our early treatment will ensure they survive through their sick period.
Local people praised God for the help they were receiving, you can't imagine how overjoyed this community were, as they had never before been given free medicine and were obviously unable to afford medicine, struggling to eke out an existence as it was. Local life expectancy is 54 years and child mortality rates are extremely high. Moreover the 'local' hospital is far away in the city of Kasur. As an added bonus your BPCA team distributed vitamins and calcium tablets among children suffering from a lack of these essential minerals.
During our medical camp some Muslim people came for medical assessment also, we explained who we were and helped them, explaining that any help we gave to them, was a gift from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The Muslim patients were extremely pleased that we treated them equally and fairly and though they did not commit their lives to God, they could not have left without having been touched by His grace. .
One of the Christian villagers Riaz Masih said:
''We never thought that we would receive such help and love from anyone, God is so merciful."
Another woman, Mrs Bhaag, said:
''Our children were suffering with different kinds of viral diseases and we were unable to buy medicine for them due to lack of funds. But we are very thankful to God who sent the BPCA to reach us here, we have been helped in a time of great need, His name be praised."
Our work was still not done, we came with the intent to give the community hygiene lessons that would improve their heath. Your BPCA team had been working hard on making health charts on which the following safeguards were taught; washing hands before eating food, taking regular showers, the need for washing clothes, regular dental care and washing hands after using a toilet .
People were advised on the existence of microbial organisms such as viruses and bacteria and the need to keep kitchen and bathroom surfaces clean to prevent infection and improve health.
Before leaving the village Mehwish Bhatti and Naveed distributed candies among the children as a treat, something they rarely get to savour. The children wolfed them down with real zeal which made Mehwish and Naveed laugh with joy.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, said:
"Christians in Bikiwind have been given a new lease of life, a community once despondent are now full of vigour again. What the floods took away will be replaced and bettered despite the inactivity of their government. God has shown his mercy and love to this community by using a natural disaster to bring hope and salvation."
Pray the building work will be completed smoothly and as quickly as possible
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