To Knightsbridge to attend the vigil outside the Pakistani High Commission organised jointly by Citizen Go and the British Pakistani Christian Association. I arrived as Wilson Chowdhry the Chairman of the BPCA was giving an interview to BBC Asian Network
This is Mr Singer. He spoke of his time working in Saudi Arabia where he came across an underground Pentecostal Church. One of their number fell foul of the authorities and was sentenced to death for being a Christian. The US President at the time was Ronald Reagan, and the US government of the time 'still had a spine' as he put it. Pressure was put on the Saudi government and the Christian man was spared death. The Saudi government learnt their lesson; now if a Christian offends a criminal charge is concocted to justify the death sentence. By comparision the regime makes that of Iran look almost liberal.
Another good poster
Wilson Chowdhry introduced the band (or the singer) Ooberfuse to sing the campaign song Free Asia Bibi, which I remember hearing outside Downing Street in 2014.
I have only one thing to say "All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing"
This is Diane a beautiful singer who called upon the Holy Spirit to come down among us before she sang a worship song called Break Every Chain.
There is power in the name of Jesus
To break every chain, break every chain, break every chain
There's an army rising up
To break every chain, break every chain, break every chain
I hear the chains falling I hear the chains falling
This young man began his prayer with the Bible verse Exodus 8.1 And the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. He ended by leading us in the Lord's Prayer.
The numbers of the crowd ebbed and flowed over the 2 hours. Workers from a nearby site joined just briefly. Visitors and Officials continued to use the High Commission. Any man who looked like an important diplomat was urged Free Asia Bibi!
There were numerous pastors, preachers and ministers from the non-conformist denominations but a lady I spoke to, a Catholic like Asia Bibi and her family, expressed sorrow that there was no obvious representative of the Roman Catholic Church to support their daughter, and I felt the same about the apparent lack of official interest from the Church of England. More credit therefore to those other denominations for their faith and courage.
A school teacher from east London spoke of the Pakistani pupils he had taught, and their wonderful supportive families. He said that anybody of our age (he may be retired from teaching now) will remember the President of Pakistan, Imran Khan as a fantastic cricketer, and a charming and cultured man. He showed great compassion when opening a hospital of cancer patients in honour of his mother. He called upon Imran Khan to show compassion now, for Asia Bibi and all Christians in Pakistan. He refered to his own education at Cambridge University and called to any Oxbridge graduates within the High Commission. Have you forogtten what you were taught about having an inquiring mind and intellectual honesty? He spoke generally to Pakistanis in the UK. How can you ask for your rights in this country, when fellow Pakistanis don't have their rights in Pakistan?
We were asked to gather together outside the High Commission and start to light the candles for that part of the vigil while we were addressed by a Baptist Minister from Walsall.
Those without candles held up the lights on their mobile phones
We were led in singing some more worship songs.
I class Amazing Grace as a hymn but it doesn't matter, it was good, as was Swing Low Sweet Chariot.
We held hands in a circle to sing Break Every Chain again
And closing prayer by two Pastors
I got home this evening not to the news we had prayed for, that Asia Bibi has been allowed to leave Pakistan with her family and is now safe in one of those countries that have offered asylum, but that her husband is in talks with the Canadian authorities that they can be allowed there.
The Daily Mail reports that 19 Catholic MPs and Peers have written to Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt urging him to allow her to come here. I can't work out whether the Foreign have actually refused a specific request, or have just ignored the family when they could have made an offer. I know I have said that I believe a Catholic country that retains a strong Christian tradition like Spain would probably be safer than the UK where we know that apostates from Islam are not safe from their own community's anger, and Amahdayia Muslims are also attacked. But the government's failure to issue an invitation smacks of appeasment to one faction.
I pray for good news this week, mindful that Asia Bibi and her family are not the only Christians, or the only non-Muslims facing persecution in Pakistan.
Photographs E Weatherwax London November 2018.
Thank you so much for your report on that gathering. I am so glad that it took place. And yes, it is a great pity that the Catholic and Anglican clergy were not represented. (One could always write to Abp Welby, and the Catholic archbishops of the UK, and ask them why they seem to be keeping so quiet). Imagine if the Archbishops - Catholic and Anglican - announced that they would be spending seven days in silent retreat of prayer and fasting, and called all persons of their respective communions to take part as able, for the release of Aasia Bibi from Pakistan. In that connection - perhaps the BPCA could consider a silent vigil outside the Pakistani HIgh Commission, walking up and down - or else around the block (how large a block is it on?). Six days of silence... and on the seventh day, loud shouts of praise to the Living God. (Perhaps recitation of Psalms). (I am thinking of Joshua, and the Walls of Jericho).