Christians have been told to remove all religious symbols from the church in Nayya Sarabah village in Pakistan’s Punjab province, which belongs to the Full Gospel Assemblies (FGA) group. (Photo by Kamran Chaudhry/ucanews.com)
Six months after villagers in Muslim-majority Nayya Sarabah in Pakistan’s Punjab province colluded with police to shut down the only Christian church in the village, negotiations remain deadlocked pending a new land deal.
Christians claim they are being persecuted after the church, run by Pastor Samuel Masih, held its last service in December and has since been sealed, with orders in June to remove all religious symbols and traces of Christianity from the property.
The community of 40 Christian families in this village of 400 people in Toba Tek Singh district near Faisalabad has since been holding weekly prayers in their homes.
But they claim they are being treated unfairly in not being able to practice their religion freely and are now operating under almost impossible conditions.
“We paid to have this church built,” said 70-year-old Christian Rafaqat Masih, a retired army officer and union councilor for minorities who is at the vanguard of efforts to resolve the issue
“You can still smell the fresh paint. ”