“I need to know more about this Jesus.”

by Annie Buckles

Table of Contents

In the Western world, we tend to pride ourselves on our private, personal faith and blessings. For many Christians in other parts of the world, that couldn’t be further from reality: just being a Christian could put your life at risk. 

I think about friends of ours in other countries who are constantly monitored because of what they believe: they have to be careful and think about whatever they text or email, and they might even have cameras outside of their homes. Even if they’re not under immediate threat of violence, there’s a cost, and that’s why I’m careful with what I share too. I might name the country, but I usually won’t go into specific names or places beyond that.

Public Identity…

In Pakistan (where I serve as a missionary with SEAPC), you are legally required to carry an ID card. On your ID card, it will record your faith, so everyone knows what group you belong to. What’s more, once someone in your family has made that decision, that’s the official faith that will be passed through the generations, whether or not you are not a practicing Christian.

There are daily consequences to this. If you’re a Christian in Pakistan, you don’t get access to the good jobs. Instead, you’re forced to take roles nobody wants, with terrible pay. It doesn’t matter if you got an education, or if you speak English, you’re still going to be the “low man” simply because of what it says on your ID card.

…Public Targets

A few weeks after my first trip to Pakistan, a local resident got very angry with a pastor whose church and Bible college we partner with. This man broke into the pastor’s home, poured gasoline all over the stairwell, and threw two Molotov cocktails after him as he left. He intended to maim or kill everyone inside.

To escape, the pastor and his entire family — he has three children — had to jump from their roof onto the ground floor. Thankfully, the fire department had set up a safety net of some kind to catch them, but it was a big jump. At that time, their youngest was under two years old.

It’s because of stories like this that I always make sure to look at what the local pastor shares, and make decisions based on that. If he’s not going to post something, I probably won’t either.

Night view of Pakistani buildings and street, showcasing a nation with huge but different blessings
Could you imagine jumping from a roof with your two-year-old? Could you bless your enemies?

Different Blessings

That isn’t to say I won’t share anything. When I do post about Pakistan, I like to talk about the people, about their everyday lives. Let me tell you, the Lord is moving in that country. There is an above-ground church. They don’t have to hide in caves, like in other places. They have their own buildings. They even have their own TV stations, through which they proclaim the Gospel. They love Jesus with their all. 

Although their outside circumstances might not look like the stereotypical “blessed life” we think of in America, that doesn’t mean there is no blessing. Far from it! That’s what I’ve learned: the way God chooses to bless and multiply often looks very different to what we expect in our cultural context.

The people are not cursed just because they happened to be born in Pakistan. He has a wonderful purpose for them. When I have been with them, I have seen people who are so obviously called by God, and who have a burning desire to reach their people.

Praying with local Pakistanis who have a heart to bless their nation
Annie praying with passionate local disciples who long to share God's blessing with their nation.

Jesus Through the Airwaves

A few weeks ago, someone in my small group in America asked me whether I had any insight into what faith in Jesus was like for Christians in Pakistan and other “closed” countries. Her question made me think of another story, from my last trip to the country (I visited from the end of January through mid-February 2024)…

It was our first full day on the ground, and the whole mission team had gathered on the local pastor’s roof (how cool is that for a location?!). We were worshipping and praying together. This pastor was the one whose home was attacked, most likely because of the TV station he ran: he’s had a lot of success reaching Muslim people through it. 

It is very rare for Muslims to show up at a typical Sunday service. They might attend a healing outreach or crusade, but even then, they tend to be more interested in being healed than the One doing the healing. Typically, they are very set in their beliefs about who God is.

However, through this church’s television network, viewers get to receive the word of God in their native language, they get to see people experience healing live on air, and they get to hear people testify about Jesus on a weekly basis, all from their homes. For whatever reason, this connects with people who would not otherwise be open to Jesus.

Man proclaiming God's blessing over the nation of Pakistan from the hills
Proclaiming God's blessings over Pakistan through the airwaves!

Desperate for Jesus

Now, on this particular afternoon, a woman and her mother-in-law who lived about an hour away from the church were somehow, just for the day, able to get away from where they lived to seek out this pastor — all because of the television channel. They came halfway through our worship time, and they were determined.

This woman had to listen to the services when her husband wasn’t around, because if he ever caught her — which he did, one time — he would physically abuse her. And if she ever tried to talk to her husband about what she had experienced, he would become very violent and threaten, “If you change faiths, I will kill you.” These were not empty words; this is a real, normal thing in Pakistan. These two women were taking a great risk to be with us.

When she arrived, she recounted that she had been at home doing chores with the TV on when one of the pastor’s services started playing. She told us, “It disturbed me, because I started having visions of angels. And then I realized: I need to know more about this Jesus.”

We were intrigued but didn’t want to push her, so we tried to be hospitable: we offered to pray for her, encourage her, and give her a little bit of money. Immediately, she exclaimed, “I didn’t come here for money! I don’t know what I’m going home to, but if my husband gets violent, and he does kill me, I need to know that I have Jesus.

We got the urgency of her words. We talked more with her about what that meant (knowing Jesus and having Him in her life), she made a confession of faith, and we baptized her, right there and then. It wasn’t fancy, and it wasn’t planned, but it sure was memorable.

Baptising a local Pakistani believer who longs to know Jesus' blessing
Desperate for Jesus' baptismal blessing

Desire of the Nations

That’s the beautiful lesson of missions in different countries. It teaches me, it humbles me, every time. It doesn’t just make me extra grateful for material things once I get home; it helps me remember. And it’s all because of the people, who have captured my heart.

I will end by saying that I feel privileged to tell these stories. They challenged me when I was in Pakistan, and they challenged my small group members when I shared with them. I hope they challenge you. This woman’s heroic journey and the pastor’s brave perseverance are living proof that even when coming to Jesus is inconvenient or life-threatening, knowing Him is more valuable than anything else in the world.

Do you know how precious Jesus is? Do you know how much He is worth?

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold — though your faith is far more precious than gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

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