The weeks preceding the celebration of the Pentecost was a time of testing, firmness and fight against evil in which we experienced the faithfulness and presence of God.
In the weeks following the Pentecost amidst an atmosphere of negativism propagated by baseless allegations and attacks on the Church, both within and outside the country, I encourage concerned readers to further seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Pentecost helps us see as to who we are and what is expected out of us. Our mission and calling as we experience is to share in boldness and without comprise the life and teaching of Jesus Christ to circumstances we understand at the moment, and to others which the scripture says will be revealed by the comforter when the appropriate time comes.
It is my prayer that in the months and years ahead we will experience the joys and fruits of Gods power within the Church of Pakistan. With this prayer and hope I consider it necessary to candidly share my thoughts on the Gods faithfulness and help to the Diocese of Raiwind.
The Diocese of Raiwind-Church of Pakistan is geographically the smallest Diocese and relatively a young Diocese with a history of 26 years. In 1987 when I moved into the Diocese of Raiwind, by being elected its second Bishop, God in His Grace guided and helped us evaluate and deal with challenges and shortcomings of the Diocese. Some of the challenges, as experienced at that time, I share hereunder:
1.Abuse, misuse and/or lack of use of Church properties.
2.A prevalent tactic of "scare and dare" by bullies within the Diocese, intimidating Church leaders to loot church assets.
3.No blueprint, plan or vision for the growth of churches, congregations and future sustainability of the Diocese.
4.Absence of financial resources within the structure of the Diocese to keep its ministries of education, health care, special education, women's work, youth work and pastoral care on-going, effective and sustainable.
5.No structure or mind-set to position the Diocese as a community of respect in the wider of context of Raiwind Islamic Ijtimah (gathering), with strong Christian witness and service.
Having been involved for the past nineteen years, I am humbled in His Grace with peace and thanksgiving, to share and tell you that the Diocese of Raiwind with Gods help has come a long way.
The Diocese and its people have overcome a number of our challenges as we quietly move, each day, to experience the blessing and faithfulness of God. It is my prayer that the Diocese of Raiwind will hopefully one day be the shining star for God's glory. We strongly anchor on the words of Jesus as stated in John: "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on sin no more." It is in these words that we experience the present and the future. He offers His people hope and renewal.
I must say that one of our major setbacks has been the lack of sharing the good things that have happened in the Diocese of Raiwind. My office did not do enough in reporting the tremendous progress that God has bestowed upon the Diocese of Raiwind. As we move ahead we need your prayers for the Church, its members and its leadership for the betterment of the church.
Over the last two months the Diocese of Raiwind and the church at large has been attacked with baseless allegations intended to blemish the leadership of the Diocese and its various institutional heads. The motive behind this old and ill advised "Scare and Dare" tactic by Mr. Raja Nathaniel Gill and his accomplices is once again an attempt to loot the church for personal gains. This time they have taken it to the extreme by killing an innocent woman, while trying to frame individuals who are innocent. It is obvious that Mr. Gill, in his irrational thinking, had assumed that he could scare the Bishop, put the church/diocese in a defensive position and thereby succeed in facing no resistance in his desire to grab church resources. (land and assets) His motive became evident when in his desperation after this crime he actually demanded in the presence of Pastor Emmanuel Khokhar of Central Church, Lahore, the church in which his wife and children worship, Five Million Rupees and leasing of the church farmland in Raiwind, to have his false allegations dropped. He also demanded that the Bishop provide him a second wife for his two-year child, from his second wife the unfortunate lady Khalida Gill.
The executive committee of the Diocese of Raiwind in its meeting after the 28th of April 2006, made a very firm decision that it will not submit to the lust/greed of such individuals who have abused the church, irrespective of whatever circumstances we may need to face.
The good news is that all congregations of the Diocese accepted this decision, and they stood in solidarity with the Diocese and its leadership. The police and court also saw this allegation as false, slanderous and baseless rhetoric. Mr. Gill and his accomplices are threatening for reinvestigation, which is like a right of appeal. We invite Mr. Gill and his accomplices to institute as many investigations as he wants, because by reinvestigations the truth cannot be erased.
In this time of war between Truth and False, the Diocese and I have received innumerable calls and mails from church partners and well-wishers from Pakistan and around the world (Christians and Muslims alike) who clearly understand this shameful act.
On behalf of the Diocese of Raiwind, I thank them for their concern and prayers. I would also like to inform that the Diocese is committed to:
1.Exposing the "Scare and Dare" tacticians and their supporters who working in destroying and damaging the church.
2.Pursue the criminals who planned and committed the act of murdering Khalida Gill.
3.Change the mind-set of our Diocesan members:
FROM: "What can the Church give me?"
TO: "What can I Give to the Church?"
4. Keep the Mission of the Church moving in a direction that will benefit the Diocese and the community it serves in the years to come.
5. Establish a Christian Church that in Christ truly renews the Mind, Body and Spirit----A church that our descendants will be proud of and can continue to build upon.
In conclusion we rejoice in our better understanding of the scripture and the promises of our Lord, as stated by Peter: "Don't be bewildered or surprised when you go through the fiery trials ahead, for this is no strange, unusual thing that is going to happen to you." The apostle Paul in his letter to the Church in Corinth teaches us that our momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our difficulties and false accusations.
My God in His Grace give us the strength to continue to focus on the mission of Jesus Christ and the purpose of our life and that of His Church in our specific context.
May the Blessing of the Pentecost be upon all of us.
Bishop Samuel Azariah
Diocese of Raiwind-Church of Pakistan