Christmas celebrations: Christians in Chak Bethlehem in high spirits despite

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Christmas in Pakistan

Christians residing in Chak Bethlehem, a village in Punjab celebrate Christmas with traditional zeal and fervency.

According to details, Christians residing in Chak Bethlehem are busy celebrating Christmas with traditional zeal. In keeping with details, a tea from an NGO “Redemption Pakistan” visited Chak Bethlehem. During this visit the team met with a Christian resident Mushtaq Bhatti.

Mushtaq Bhatti is a Christian who is currently behind the bars for alleged involvement in a tussle which turned into a violent clash. His mother described Mushtaq’s ordeal and said, “Mushtaq was working on the church tower when some of the men told him that his father’s rivals had attacked him. He ran to save his father and jumped into the fray. An elderly man got stabbed. The children were only babies when he was taken away.”

Angelina, Mushtaq’s eight-year-old daughter said, “Please tell baba I am going to name my dolly Amna.” Angelina and her seven-year-old sister have not met with their father since years.

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The youth of this predominantly Christian village is leaving Chak Bathlehem and resettling in cities. The villagers grieve over the sorry state of affairs. “The population of this village is half of what it was 50 years ago,” Zafar Iqbal village’s Numberdar says.

Another resident of Chak Bathlehem, Shamaoon Masih, who owns a small clinic, told about St John’s High School which was started about 20 years ago. “Muslim students from neighbouring villages would study with us because it was one of the best schools in the area.”

The school, he revealed now has been closed about seven or eight years ago due to land mafia pressure. The dilapidated school building stands next to the church. “We have asked the Church of Pakistan to take it over, we have the building, we just need someone to run it.”

Pastor Kars, in charge of the village church said that the Lahore diocese is not interested in taking over the school although there are repeated requests from the villagers. The church committee organizes sports tournaments starting from December 26 every year. “These are some of the activities we try to engage our youth in, but we know they too, will leave the village one day,” the elderly Numberdar said dolefully.