Local muslims are angry. No, their fury is not directed at me. On the contrary, this protest is in support of our Gospel Festival, and against the police force, because the permit for the Gospel Festival has been withdrawn due to suicide bomb threats. The people are desperate. Some have traveled great distances because news has spread of the miracles that have happened already during the first three days. I have just been told that many muslims are also at the local press club, demonstrating and complaining to journalists that the Gospel Festival has been stopped. Hundreds of police moved in on the Gospel Festival ground and began to tear down metal detectors, lights, the sound system and stage. In a situation like this it’s always difficult to know what is truth and what is fiction, but one thing is sure; tens of thousands of muslims are angry because they are being denied the Gospel. Word on the street is that I am under house arrest by the police. Another version is that I was attacked leaving the last meeting and have been captured, while the third version is that I have been forcibly ejected from Pakistan. I can assure you that none of this is correct. This is a telling example of how rumors and speculations take hold and then take on a life of their own.
Monthly Archives: September 2009
I have just come from our Pastors Seminar. Pre-registration was at 985, but by the time we started, last Thursday morning, the number was exceeding 1400. I have hardly ever seen Pastors so tightly packed in an auditorium. The purpose of the seminar is to alter history, nothing less. Pastors David Sterling and Don Sparman have joined me in the teaching. The number of Christians in Pakistan remains dismally below 1%, and born-again Christians may be about 1 in 10,000. I asked the pastors, “Are you really preaching the gospel? Or are you preaching a Christian religion message of human performance and merits just like the message of any other religion?”
Tonight the Gospel cut through with razor-sharp precision. Last night I announced to the people to bring the blind, and they did. At times when I took the people through the promises of God for blind people, there was such a “matter-of-factness” about my words that I did not feel like I was preaching. I was simply announcing what Jesus has done and the ensuing confirmation of his Gospel. At one point I took considerable time to announce that the world’s sins have been put away by one sacrifice. It really sank in. I felt like I was cutting through frozen butter with a red-hot knife; hearts were melted. Ten thousand or more responded to receive Jesus. Remember, we are in a city that is almost totally Muslim.
6 PM. Still in my room. The meeting has just started, but I don’t leave the hotel until 7:15 to start preaching at 7:55 PM. Suddenly Marius Nicolaisen, our Gospel Campaign Director, messages me that our local coordinator has received word of a grave threat from a ‘high official’ in the President’s office and we must immediately shut down the Gospel Festival. A militant religious group, maybe Al Quada is behind this, At first I argue against this. What if someone is just trying to fool us, to make us fearful? After repeated calls to numerous authorities asking for one more night is met with stone walling, it becomes clear that this threat is very real. If we don’t obey there will be “serious damage to our coordinator and his family”. We all know what “serious damage” means in Pakistan; burned houses and churches, beheadings, etc.
It was clear from the first service that God loves without discrimination. Immediately the platform filled with people eager to testify. A Muslim lady, her face covered by a black chadar, radiantly described how Jesus had healed her daughter who had been deaf for the past 10 years. Another dozen cases of deafness were healed. The night finished with a boy blind since early childhood, demonstrating how he could see everything. The crowd roared and praised God. More importantly thousands, mostly Muslims, eagerly responded to the salvation call.
Air travel can be stressful. Today was a day when everything had to work just right. First this morning at 6AM I had to convince British Airways in Helsinki, Finland [see yesterday’s blog] to check my luggage through to Karachi, Pakistan. This was quite a task since I am using three different airlines to get there and without being checked through I would never make my connection in London. The lady at the check-in counter assured me that this was ‘impossible’. Well, I kept firm and sure enough after some discussions my bag was checked all the way. That’s often how it is, with a little determination the “impossible” is possible after all.
I left Canada three days ago on my way to Pakistan. News of another bombing that killed 33 people dominated the news two days before I left. What drives this mission is to give everyone an opportunity for the Gospel. Yes, there are terrorists in Pakistan, but also millions of precious people hungry for Jesus.
On my way to Pakistan I took a detour, to visit Oulu in Finland, close to the Arctic circle. This is a thriving university city with a growing population. The Evangelical Free Church was celebrating its 125th anniversary, and had asked me to speak in four outreach services. The people were not focused on reminiscing about long ago “when God moved”, but keen on presenting Jesus to new people. The Saturday services were held in a concert hall to accommodate more people. I was amazed when I gave the invitation to receive Christ in the first service, it looked like about 25% of the people responded, and it continued like that meeting after meeting. When I gave the people opportunity to come to the microphone and honor Jesus for healings that had happened, many gave praise to God. It was quite a display of joy in conservative Finland, The second day he services were held in the church, and I’m happy the fire department didn’t check on us, because we were filled to way beyond the allowable capacity, including the church foyer.
The other day I stepped out of Coffee Culture on St. Paul Street. The rain was coming down heavily, so I lingered on the steps hoping for a quick improvement. Suddenly, a lady appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, shouting, “You people – why do you support the Jews over the Palestinians? That land belongs to the Palestinians, you know!” I have no idea who the person was, but she must have recognized me as an “evangelical Christian”, thus the “you people”. I hurried to explain that our organization works in Israel; six of our projects are with Jews and six with Palestinians. My response seemed to bring some calm.