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Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Cheer for Poor Brick Kiln Workers in Pakistan
They Received Food from a Christian Ministry

By Ashfaq Fateh
Special to ASSIST News Service

TOBA TEK SINGH, PUNJAB, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- Following the shocking news that hundreds of poor Christian brick kiln workers were denied their wages before Christmas in Toba Tek Singh, a district in the Pakistani province of Punjab, has come the good news that some 30 of them received a Christmas boost when a Christian ministry distributed special food packages to them.

Kiln workers in a group photo with Pastor
Victor Samuel

God’s Grace Ministries of Pakistan gave out special food packages to the Christian brick kiln workers after a prayer service held in the Christian Colony in Toba Tek Singh.

Each ration pack contained twenty kilogram of wheat flour (staple food of Pakistan), sugar, cooking oil, lentils, rice, noodles, soaps for bath and for washing clothes, as well as crockery, tea and milk etc.

Pastor Victor Samuel of God’s Grace Ministries welcomed the poor workers and shared the work of his ministry with the workers and church members who were also attending.

He told the gathering that when he came to know these workers had not been paid their wages despite the heavy work they were doing, he could not "sleep well and prayed day and night" and shared the situation with his church and friends outside Pakistan.

A kiln worker in a happy mood with Pastor Victor Samuel after receiving the ration

“I spent my most of time in prayer and asked all the followers of God’s Grace Ministries to pray that the Lord would make a way for these poor workers,” he told the group. “I could not explain my feelings and then Lord answered my prayers, and those of my church members, and He used His people to send help.

“Today, God’s Grace Ministries is pleased to share the love of Jesus Christ at this difficult time with our poor brothers and sisters.”

He went on to say, “I believe that God takes care of His people. You, my brothers and sisters, have worked day and night and have been struggling for fixed wages and for your other social and economic rights and many of you have not even been paid you wages and the owners are violating the law of having to pay fixed wages.

“Our gathering today is a message to all those who exploit faithful people of God like yourselves. He never leaves His people alone. He opens new horizons for His people. A man can deprive the other man, but the Heavenly Father would never do this. Today, we all the brothers and sisters are happy and thanking God with one spirit.”

Lunch was served to the workers

Pastor Victor urged all the brick kiln workers to witness the love of Jesus Christ through their lives and work and he encouraged them to continue the struggle for their “just rights.”

Munir Gill, President of the Brick Kiln Workers Union, thanked God’s Grace Ministries for the “generous help for the starving kiln workers” and for "praying for them."

Buta Masih, a kiln worker told ANS that “God’s Grace Ministries is a hope for poor. I pray that God will bless their work and their team.”

Bashir Misah, another kiln worked said, “My children did not eat anything sweet at Christmas, but now this evening we will have nice meal.”

Another worker, Anwar Masih told ANS, “Every Christmas my family likes to cook rice and make special a Christmas cake and despite our financial problems, this year, this will again be made possible with the help of God’s Grace Ministries. Thanks to all those who provide these things!”

As an ANS special correspondent in Pakistan, I have also been able to witness the work done by this committed Christian group for the flood affected people in Khabar Pakhtoon Khawa (KPK) and Punjab Provinces. This ministry has distributed ration packs, conducted free medical camps and has shared the Word of God among the hundreds and thousands in Pakistan.

The ministry has been running a school for the poor children where the children are provided free quality education, Christian formation. Free meal is also served every day which is rare in a country like Pakistan.

It has also set up a women’s skill transformation center where women are taught skills of sewing which enable them to earn her livelihood once they have completed the course.

Pastor Victor Samuel the head of God's Grace Ministries of Pakistan sharing the Word of God with workers

Pastor Victor Samuel told me in an interview that, ever week, along with his team, he visits some 125 villages in the district of Toba Tek Singh to "share the Word of God with local Christians." He also said that his ministry is planning to plant three new churches in different localities in the district of Toba Tek Singh.

What made this special event so special was that ANS has learned there are hundreds of Christian families working as kiln workers who have not been paid the legally fixed wages and they are living below the poverty line. And, at least a few of them, received some wonderful Christmas cheer at the time of their greatest need.

To see the event where the brick kiln workers were fed, please go to: www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGn-P6bOuVE
 


Ashfaq Fateh, 38, studied civic and human rights, at Pakistan's leading University, the Aga Khan University in Karachi. He has been working to promote peace, human rights and particularly for Christian's rights. He has also been working against the discriminatory laws prevailing in Pakistan. His wife, Rafia Salomi, is serving as deputy director for Society for Human Development, popularly known as Human Development Center, an icon of Christian's rights in Pakistan since 1984.

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