40 Christian families in Nayya Sarabah Chak 336 village in Punjab province have been restrained from conducting prayer services at a local church. Local police has imposed a ban on these Christians not to hold prayer services. Consequently, these Christians haven’t held a prayer service since before Christmas last year.
Details emerge that these Christian villagers were forced to sign a pledge that they will not hold prayer services. Moreover, after half a year these Christians were warned to eliminate every visible sign of Christianity from the sole church in the village. “Muslims are in the majority in the village, we can’t allow a church here”, Pakistani Christian journalist Asif Aqeel quoted Muhammad Siddique, a local Muslim villager in his report.
“Now we are working with the civil administration to give a piece of land to Christians outside the village. When it is done, we will make the Christians write an agreement that they will sell this current church building or at least dismantle the church structure and crosses”, Siddique was quoted. “Most of the Christians of the village work as brick-kiln laborers. It is only Rafaqat Masih, who, being a retired army personnel, is trying to be a leader and has helped build a church in the village.”
The church run by Pastor Samuel Masih, hails from the Full Gospel Assemblies group. A local Christian union councilor Rafaqat Masih is striving to get the matter resolved. Christian villagers landed into trouble when the Rajana police called Christian and Muslim villagers of Chak 336 on December 14, last year. The Rajana Police forced Christian villagers to sign a pledge stating that the Christians would “hold religious ceremonies in their houses. There will be no programme in the church. If anyone will violate this agreement, then legal action will be taken. Christians will not gather in any house for a religious programme. If there will be any violation of this, legal action will be taken”.
After few days the Muslim villagers called for closure of the FGA Church; the local police responded by taking side of the Muslims. The concerned civil administration and the police told the Christian villagers that their church was listed among the churches that are to be provided security on Sundays during the prayer services. Police used this fabricated reason, in order to bar the Christian villagers from holding prayer services at the church.