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Pastor Sarfaraz Raja - Photo: Morning Star News www.morningstarnews.org
Pastor Sarfaraz Raja
Photo: Morning Star News

Sarfaraz Raja is the associate pastor of the Youngsen Memorial Church in the village of Youngsenabad, Punjab. He was preparing to deliver his Good Friday sermon on April 10th when his brother phoned, reporting that police had entered their family's house and were harassing their mother and other family members. Accompanied by the head of the village, Pastor Sarfaraz rushed to the scene, where he found six police officers in the courtyard of the family home.

Rather than receive an answer to his inquiry about the authorities' intrusion, Pastor Sarfaraz was forced into a police vehicle and transported to the station, along with his uncle. Once at the police station, liquor manufacturing equipment was brought in from a storeroom and pictures were taken of the two men next to it. With that fabricated evidence, the pastor and his uncle were charged with illegally making and selling liquor. Then the accused men were released on bail the next day.

Sarfaraz believes that the charges stem from complaints he had made earlier about the police wrongfully protecting criminals in the community. He says that other villagers, including the village headman, Chaudhry Ranjeet Lal, will vouch for him regarding these matters. While police deny the allegations, the sub-inspector mentioned his willingness to make a deal if the complaints against the police officers in his charge would be withdrawn.

A government inquiry has been ordered by the provincial Minister of Human Rights to evaluate the actions of the local police. Cases of corruption in the country's villages are not surprising, as Pakistani Christians are frequent targets of local authorities and often must contend with false allegations. More on persecution in Pakistan is available here.

May justice prevail on behalf of Pastor Sarfaraz and his uncle, proving their innocence and leading to the acquittal of the false charges against them. Ask the Lord to bring conviction to the hearts of the police officers involved in such corruption, helping them to realize the importance of rightfully upholding the very law they are called upon to represent. Pray that the Christians of the village will demonstrate exemplary lives of honesty and grace so that others in the community would be drawn to faith in Christ.