A Pakistani Christian stranded in Thailand confesses to having nothing yet clings to his faith saying he has Jesus. Sharoon a doctor by profession, fled from Pakistan after he was beaten and intimidated by the religious fanatics. The extremists hurled death threats at him leaving him with no other option but to flee along with his family.
Sharoon and his family who now live in Thailand marooned, still express thankful to God, for being safe. It has been more than six years that Sharoon and his family are awaiting United Nations High Commission for Refugees’ dissatisfying response to their resettlement application. Still and all, their faith in God has kept them going, despite the fact that they feel marooned in a foreign land.
“We don’t have visas,” Sharoon said, “but we have Jesus.” Six years ago, he with his wife and three children arrived in Thailand on a 30 day tourist visa. UNHCR denied their application for refugee status. Unable to return to their homeland, it has been years that their travel documents and visas expired, currently living in shadows in order to avoid deportation or imprisonment.
Their dilemma started back in 2009, when Sharoon’s brother witnessed an attack on Christians on the pretext of alleged blasphemy. Soon after the incident, his brother offered eye witness testimony to the police. Consequently, extremists began threatening Sharoon’s brother pressurizing him to change his statement.
Meanwhile, Sharoon was also pressurized to convince his brother to change his statement. Sharoon and his brother refused to give in to the pressure; as a result some of the perpetrators of the anti-Christians riots were jailed. However, Sharoon and his family feared reprisal from the extremists.
It was Sharoon’s brother and his family who fled Pakistan first. They arrived in Thailand but were able to relocate to Canada. Less than two years’ time, extremists visited Sharoon’s clinic. They forced all patients out of the clinic, they began criticizing his practice of checking both Muslim and non-Muslim patients, and proving them same water cooler.
Seeing a calendar that hung in the lobby, which Quranic verses; they commanded Sharoon to remove the calendar. As he was taking it off, part of it got torn, the extremists became irate, and started beating him. Meanwhile, locals started gathering at his clinic, because of the commotion he was able to escape from the scene and hide in his house.
“We thought that day was the last day of our lives. I was in a state of agony. My mind was not working, my wife was continuously weeping,” he recalls. Later that day, he was informed to attend a meeting in local mosque next day.
That night a neighbor warned Sharoon about next day’s proceeding. The caller told him that the local cleric had issued fatwa against him, saying “Tomorrow they will kill you.” Sharoon and his family fled at night. They relocated to another city in Pakistan and finally were able to flee to Thailand.
Having spent six years in Thailand, with uncertain future they remain anxious about the lives of their children. Their children will not be able to enroll in schools on the pretext of being undocumented residents. “Their future is destroyed because they don’t have a proper education,” he said.
“We have lost everything,” said one of his daughters adding, “but we have found Jesus in our lives.” The family is regularly visited by evangelists who minister to them. “Our friends show us the real love of Christ,” Sharoon said. “We have learned a lot through this persecution,” he said. “Our God is at work in all situations.”
P.S. Real names have been changed