Located in a desert area of Pakistan where farming is difficult and clean water is scarce, there is a village where people live in mud huts and do not have electricity or access to education.
The village is so impoverished that there are no worship centers for the local religion. As a result, most people identify with their religion because of their family or cultural tradition without actually understanding or practicing it.
“For most people it’s about survival, and religion – or the practice of it – is not a priority,” a church leader said.
The village has attracted a number of nongovernmental organizations that have tried to improve the conditions through economic development projects. According to local pastor *Obaid, it has also attracted corrupt organizations that exploit the residents by taking photos of the people to draw investors to nonexistent projects.
In 2003, a denomination opened a seminary to train pastors in the village. Although a number of people were trained, the denomination’s leaders came to believe that the extreme poverty of the area made an evangelical mission to the residents financially impossible and any churches planted could never become self-supporting. After 10 years, the denomination left the area.
The Catholic Church attempted to work in the area by opening a school but was also unable to plant a church.
Raised by his family in their traditional religion, Obaid gave his life to Jesus as the result of the first denomination’s evangelism in the village. He and several others from the community studied through the seminary. After the denomination left the area, they continued sharing the gospel with people as they felt led.
Obaid had a vision to bring the gospel of Jesus to the entire village, even after other churches had given up.
“He had been praying for years for someone to come and say they wanted to start a church,” a church leader said.
Obaid’s prayers were answered when he met a Church of the Nazarene pastor named *Kaleem. Through Kaleem, a Nazarene JESUS Film team began evangelizing and discipling in the village.
According to Nazarene leadership in Pakistan, the Church of the Nazarene is the first to go into this area with the main focus on evangelism, church planting, and constructing worship centers.
After a while, nearly 300 people began regularly participating in outdoor worship services since they could not afford to construct a church building.
“Since these are new believers and very uneducated, even by Pakistani standards, the work is really new and challenging without a place to properly worship,” a church leader said.
After worshipping outside for some time, Obaid and a few of the residents donated parts of their own land in hopes that God would provide additional resources to construct a church on the property.
Eventually, a generous donor gave the funds required to build the church, which will be able to host up to 400 people when it is completed.
“Our district superintendent and leadership team believe that if we plant and build a church, we will have a firm foundation on which to increase our work and win the area for Jesus,” a church leader said.
This worship center is one of many Nazarene church buildings proposed across Pakistan.
“Without these individuals, we would not be in that area working and being able to report back how God is at work to bring transformation to this community,” said the local district superintendent.
This Pakistani church plant is one of many that are growing throughout the country.
“The story of [this village] is the story of many other communities in Pakistan where the district superintendent and his team trying to work together with the local church leaders to build places where people can come together and worship the Lord of Lords,” said Trino Jara, South Asia field strategy coordinator. “This is a partnership between the local church and the mission of the church, as well as people around the world who invest in this precious ministry. The Church of the Nazarene in Pakistan is growing, and with this the need for more buildings.”
*Names changed to protect privacy