Northern Pakistan: The Purple Church
When we have done some activities for days or months, there is always need to renew ourselves so that we can have a strong comeback in that particular activity or event. The Lenten Season is one of these times. We reflect not only on the life of Jesus but also on our own lives with utmost love. The different inspirations we gain from the passion narrative.
At times it all appears to be a total failure in the life of Jesus as others may consider it. However, one has to look at the different sides of the same coin for they may have different stories. The Church in North-Pakistan could be having a different ordeal to tell and see the life of Jesus as part of their daily joys and challenges. One missionary refers to them as the Suffering Church. The Christians in Pakistan are among the minority religions here with less than 10% of the total population in the whole country. They stay in the elakas villages in different Christian colonies.
The Advent Season was a time they celebrated massively with different Christmas carols, plays animated in the Catholic institutions and in the elaka Churches. The time other people may consider as low key, for them is the peak of their celebrations. This too was evident in the almost concluded Lenten Season. Each Friday, the Christians come very early in the afternoon for the Stations of the Cross followed by Holy Mass. Friday Masses easily outstrip the Sunday Eucharist in the number of attendants. One may question this practice but to them it speaks volumes.
Seemingly, the life of Jesus in His hours of agony speaks to them in their daily hustles of life. Being a minority they carry out cheap labour and often are very poor. It is in this respect that missionaries still reach out in such areas to spread the joy of love to them. Notable among the lone veteran Mill Hill missionaries is Fr. Len Steger MHM with over 50 years of experience in Pakistan. The presence of our missionaries in the diocese of Islamabad/ Rawalpindi is still felt in the spreading of the love of Jesus Christ to those most abandoned.
That could be a reason why they have remained what could be called the ‘Purple Church’ so that they emulate Christ in various ways since that is what speaks to their situation on the ground. They meet Christ ‘face to face’ in their lowliness to get that embrace of a father’s love for His children.
Keep praying for the Church in Pakistan and the missionaries here to continue spreading the love of Jesus Christ.
Blessed Holy Week and Happy Easter in advance.
Ochieng’ Austine Otieno, MHM
CHAK 79 Parish, North Pakistan