Great !!! Pakistani Muslims Build Church For Christian Neighbors
In Pakistan ’s northeastern Punjab province, Muslim villagers are raising funds to help their poor Christian neighbors build a church .
The initiative was begun shortly before Easter by a group of Muslims from a village in Faisalabad, Pakistan ’s textile -manufacturing hub .
“ There is a tiny Christian population in the village — only 20 families — who have no place to worship , ” Fr. Aftab James, the local priest, told Anadolu Agency .
“ Only days before Easter, the initiative was taken up by our Muslim brothers ,” he said . According to Fr . James , Christians of the village had to use someone ’ s home — or some other site — to perform prayers on holy days .
“ Muslim residents of the town, however , offered to build us a chapel as a gift,” he said . “ We are thankful to our Muslim brothers for this wonderful gesture . It makes us feel proud , ” the priest said .
The local Christian community is now very excited that they will soon have a church in the village .
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“ Before we had to rent or borrow a house in which to hold Christmas, Easter and other festivities,” Faryad Masih , a Christian laborer , told Anadolu Agency .
“ But now we will soon have our own chapel ,” he said .
“ At first I didn’ t believe it when Muslim community leaders said they would build us a chapel ,” he recalled.
“ But to my surprise, construction work began within one month of the initial announcement , ” a visibly excited Faryad said . “ Our community ’s longtime dream is now coming true , ” he said .
Christians, Pakistan’s largest religious minority , account for roughly 3 percent of the country ’ s total population of some 180 million.
Most of them reside in Punjab , Pakistan’ s largest province , where they are mainly involved in the sanitation , nursing and teaching sectors .
Almost 60 percent of Pakistan’s Christian community is Protestant, while the rest are Catholic . The country ’ s Christians are represented in Pakistan ’s government and Senate , and in national and provincial assemblies .
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– Country of tolerance
The local community has already raised 150 ,000 Pakistani rupees ( roughly $ 1 ,500 ) towards the total cost of the church ’s construction , estimated at some 700 , 000 rupees ( $ 7 ,000 ) .
Mian Ejaz , one of the Muslim fundraisers , told Anadolu Agency that additional funds would eventually be raised to finish the chapel , which would include a medium -size prayer hall and another room .
“ We had four mosques in the village but no place of worship for Christians, as most of them are poor and lack the funds to build a church on their own ,” Ejaz , who also provides funds for the village ’ s four mosques , said .
Therefore, Ejaz said , Muslim community leaders had decided to give an Easter gift to their Christian counterparts in the form of a chapel .
The day construction work began on the church in March , a massive bombing tore through a public park in provincial capital Lahore killing dozens of people , including a number of Christians celebrating Easter.
“ We want to tell the world that Pakistan isn ’t a country of extremists — who are only a small minority — but a country of people who believe in religious tolerance and harmony ,” Ejaz said .
“ Moreover , the Christian world is doing a lot for Muslim refugees, so we should pay them [Christians] back in the same coin , ” he said , referring to the flocks of Muslim refugees now trying to reach Europe from Turkey.
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