Rev. Dr. Art Cribbs Executive Director of the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity is currently participating in an Interfaith Delegation in Pakistan. Below is a journal of his experience.
A walk through Kachi Abadi, also known as F-6 Sector in Islamabad, is a short, tight journey to a community of people whose eyes reflect hope and their voices echo the songs of faith. An invitation into the home of a proud resident who cheerfully welcomed her international guests inside her one room abode was generous hospitality not easily understood. The experience prompted multiple levels of human response and speculation. For her affluent American visitors, the step into this private world of a distant culture may have provoked a sincere expression of concern and compassion. Yet, from the heart of the hospitable hostess, it was an authentic embrace of the complex human family. She was pleased to receive and welcome all of us into her home and asked us to sit down. Our compliance was the height of respect and dignity.
Kachi Abadi is home to more than 500 Christian Pujabi families. Although they are part of the largest ethnic majority in Pakistan, members of this community are reduced to an outcast, impoverished people relegated to the margins of society. That is because of their unyielding dedication to their faith. They are strengthen by their unapologetic devotion to Jesus Christ.
Our delegation was taken from her home to one of the local churches for a special service held in our honor. Hand-crafted leis made from local roses were placed around each of our necks by the young pastor and women from his ecumenical congregation. They are joined as one body across denominational identities of Baptists, Catholics, Evangelicals, Methodists, and Mormons. They are a church for all Christians. Although they are not allowed to prostylize, they attract new members by conducting healing services.
The pastor explained to be a Christian means to endure indignity and poverty in accordance with the suffering Christ. It is a source of personal purpose and faithful living. Amid the conditions of governmental neglect and insult a resolved community was formed and solidified by neighbors who support and care for each other.
On the day of our visit, we were greeted by a group of young mothers and their small children. They talked about their plans to attend college and see their visions of a different future for their toddlers. They are encouraged by the pastor and his wife who expounded a message of new life in Christ. Despite social and economic injustice, the women reflect a determination that defines their lives as meaningful with profound awareness that fills them with undaunted joy. They are witnesses of God’s grace and possess a detectable sense of self worth.
Our visiting eyes perceived living conditions smothered under repression and discrimination. Our hearts and souls experienced the Beloved Community that puts faith into action, welcomes the stranger, and embodies the high tradition of faithfulness.
Although their living environment is evidence of societal discard, the community of a Christian minority in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a testimony to make the symbolic display of inclusion and compassion represented in the national flag, a true reality for every person, including citizens, refugees, and religious minorities throughout the country.
Our walk through Kachi Abadi took us to the center of true Christian practice against a tsunami of disappointment and heartbreaking disparity buffered by inexplicable possibility. This was an intersection that connected our interfaith delegation to the wider world.