“I want to be a Gospel singer,” says 13-year-old Rizwan. “I belong to a poor family so after becoming a Gospel singer I would like to spread Jesus’ Name through my singing.”
Rizwan’s father is a brick-kiln worker in Pakistan and Rizwan goes to help him make bricks every day when he gets home from school - and that would have been Rizwan’s future too, because the family were bonded labourers, tied to their brick-kiln by a debt they owed its owner. There would have been no hope of any other job, let alone a music ministry. The debt was 250,000 rupees, impossibly big for a poor Christian family to repay, although only £1,400 ($1,800; €1,500) at today’s exchange rates. Rizwan’s parents would have had to hand the debt on to Rizwan, and the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, debt and bondage would have continued for another generation.
But thanks to the generous gifts of Barnabas supporters, the debt has been paid and the family are free. Even though his family are still poor, Rizwan can now hope, not just dream, of serving God with his musical skills. “Please pray that I will become a Gospel singer,” he adds.
Turning hopeless dreams into solid reality
“Before they had dreams, but now it is real,” said Pastor Hamid to Barnabas Fund yesterday in Pakistan. He was struggling to find words to express the dramatic difference made to the lives of bonded brick-kiln labourer families who have been freed by donations from Barnabas Fund supporters, donations which were passed through his church.
“Thousands and millions of prayers and blessings”
“They are very, very happy – giving thousands and millions of prayers and blessings to Barnabas Fund,” said another project partner in Pakistan. These prayers and blessings are for donors all around the world whose gifts to Barnabas have paid off debts that these families incurred for essential needs in times of family crisis.
The debts kept each family bonded to their brick-kiln, unable to leave and get another job, with money deducted from their wages to pay the interest. It was impossible, out of their poverty, to pay off the debts. Despised, despairing and trapped, they felt like slaves.
Freedom now and hope for the future
But a one-off payment to cover the debt and ongoing help with food and school fees brings freedom now and hope for the future.
And practical help brings spiritual uplift. The first thing that happens, explained Pastor Hamid, is that the Christians start attending church much more, worshipping with enthusiasm. “Their faces shine with joy and hope,” he said, his own face shining with delight.
Hope for the children, peace for the parents, joy for the whole family
Munir and Nadia are so thankful that their debt has been paid and for ongoing monthly food parcels to help them feed their four children. He and his wife used to earn 500 to 600 rupees (£2.80 to £3.40; $3.60 to $4.30; €3.10 to €3.70) for making 1,000 bricks – a day’s work for the two of them labouring together, plus any help the children gave. But now that the debt has been paid they are receiving 850 rupees (£4.80; $6; €5.20) for 1,000 bricks.
When the debt disappeared, so did their worries. They plan to educate their children, and three of them are already at school. They also plan to help others as they were helped (i.e. to make donations to help free other bonded brick-kiln families), to put aside some savings, and most importantly, to be regular in attending their church.
Countdown to freedom
We are thankful to God that Barnabas Fund has already freed 691 Christian brick-kiln families like Munir and Nadia’s including over 2,000 children.
But there are many more still trapped in bondage by their debts. The average debt of those we are helping at the moment is just 60,000 rupees (£340; $430; €370).
Please give and please pray.
If you would like to make a gift, please direct your donation to Pakistani Christian Brick Kiln Workers 41-1356Donate
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If you prefer to telephone, dial:
(07) 3806 1076 or 1300 365 799
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