Ratio Christi Apologetics Spreads into Pakistan
Pastor Zia Ul Masih is our Ratio Christi leader in Pakistan. He completed his theological education in the city of Lahore. His name means “Light of Jesus.”
His parents are Christians, and his family are among the mere two percent of the Christian Pakistani population. The remaining 98 percent of the population are Muslims.
"But it is not a closed country," he says. "The government knows Christians are meeting and holding worship services."
Zia introduces himself as the national director of RC and facilitates apologetics seminars on a monthly basis. “Sometimes we don’t use the RC logo because the seminar is sponsored by another ministry that has agreed to help us. But when I do my own seminars, I always use the RC logo."
We asked Zia to share how the ministry is going in Pakistan:
Q: How did you find out about Ratio Christi and get involved, all the way in Pakistan?
A: First I met Mr. Brian Stallter, while he visited Pakistan (Stallter helped start RC at Ohio State University). During our two days together, he came to know that I am Christian Apologist in Pakistan. He introduced me to Eric Chabot, the RC chapter director at Ohio State. Later I was introduced to Blake Anderson, who was at that time the Chief Operating Officer of Ratio Christi.
Q: How often do you conduct RC presentations, and in what areas of your country?
A: We go from city to city as much as we can - Lahore, Karachi, Multan, Gujranwala, Serghuba, Khanewal, the capital Islamabad, and more. We do apologetics seminars, and you can see the topics and places on the banners in some of the photos. We arrange seminars with the help of our friends and organizations. We now have groups in many cities that help us manage events and invite all those who need apologetics studies.
Q: In what kinds of places do you meet?
A: Most of the time we select church locations. Many are one-room church buildings. We can invite other pastors, youth, and laymen. We sometimes can use school assembly halls for these purposes, but it must be after school hours because we need the administration’s permission.
Q: Who attends your seminars and outreaches?
A: We are reaching mostly youngsters, youth, and pastors. They can ask us questions regarding the topic for that seminar. So many young people come because they are confused and disappointed in questions raised by skeptics, and because they have heard we give the youth free hand to express their curiosity and questions. We tell them they don’t have to be quiet like in a worship session. They can ask questions directly or send in writing.
Because the churches in Pakistan are very busy in many church activities, the pastors aren’t grounded in defended the faith. They do sermons, but the young people aren’t given opportunities to ask questions. The youth are disappointed in not getting wise answers and they are leaving the church. Later some leave the faith altogether.
Q: What is the format for your events?
A: I usually deliver a lecture on a topic for forty-five minutes and then we have open discussion and questions. Most questions are about the Christian faith. Pastors ask questions they’ve heard raised by people in other religions, especially Muslims, regarding Bible text, the Koran, and Islamic beliefs. And like stated, the youth and youngsters have many questions. So some of our common topics are:
-Is the Bible the Word of God?
-Can Man Change God’s Word?
-Is the Bible Authentic?
-Is Jesus God?
-Was Jesus Really Crucified and Resurrected?
At Christmas, we do topics like Christmas Celebrations and Questions or Jesus’ Birth and Questions. Many become church members as a result of the answers! And their faith becomes stronger!
One question asked by a child was, 'Pastor you say Jesus told the wind and the sea to stop, but they have no ears. How did they listen?' I asked him to come on the stage and recorded his question and played it back. He didn’t know a mobile device could listen! I told him, 'My cell phone has no ears. If something is listening and it has no ears, it doesn’t mean the story isn’t true. God made the wind and water and knows how to make them listen'.”
Q: You have a great story about how far you’ve come in presenting apologetics to your country! Tell us about that.
A: Since 2005, I used to do apologetics with the materials and the seminars at my own burden. This included public debates on camera with Muslim scholars, facilitating youth seminars, and apologetics talk shows on Christian local and satellite TV channels. But two to three years ago I began doing it with Ratio Christi, and I am so glad that someone is now behind me, and I can represent an organization.
In the beginning, I was meeting in my home, facilitating apologetic sessions in my sitting room with ten students. They told others, and gradually we started arranging church seminars. Finally, someone sponsored us in a big hall in Khanewal, and we got about 3,000 - mostly youngsters!
On average, though, there are 100-200 people, again mostly youngsters and pastors.
Q: Do you participate in any debates or TV programs now?
A: Yes! But mostly in Urdu. If anyone can understand Urdu, you can enter my name as a search this way: Zia Ul Masih/Urdu to find me defending the faith in many official debate sessions with Muslims. For example, I give them many resources from their own books that Jesus was really crucified and raised from the dead!
There are also some 25-minute talk shows in Urdu, “Your Questions” and “People Ask.” These are on the Zimdage-TV satellite channel and can be found in the U.S. on Jadu box.
Q. What are you praying for and what do you need?
A: We are praying for an RC resource center – actually to rent our own building here in Pakistan for Ratio Christi -- we want (a place) to train youth from different cities in Pakistan as apologists so they can go back to their own cities and share what they’ve learned. That way we can have groups in different cities at the same time. But we would always be here for them and still go to their locations for big events.
Right now, my home is the center – my sitting room and drawing room – we still meet here. And we meet in the homes of members in many cities, and we make plans for more seminars in the future.
We need funds, of course. We currently arrange our own support for resources – from my friends and our followers. We are praying for funds to be sure we can hold events on a regular basis and have resources. Many churches donate their buildings free, but sometimes we are charged for electricity as compensation. Sometimes we collect funds from students.
Sometimes we need to skip cities because we have no funds – other times people come to us from far away, and we give them traveling expenses.
We are also praying for ministry vehicles, so we can get to hard-to-reach cities, and it would be easier in our own vehicles to bring free apologetics books and Bibles. Currently we are using mostly public transportation. It is hard to reach distant cities. In the future, I’d like to get to all the cities and villages of Pakistan.
We would like for RC’s American representatives to come and do visits and seminars, and we would like our own dependable vehicles to transport them.
Tyler Geffeney, Executive Director of Ratio Christi International, says of Zia:
“Zia’s unflappable courage is remarkable. To advance the kingdom of Christ within his home country known for acts of persecution against Christians represents the formidable resolve and boldness that represents the spirit which is Ratio Christi. I am honored to work with and support Zia.”
Zia and his wife Shumaila have four children. Their two boys are thirteen and ten, and their two girls age six and three. Zia tells us, “I bring the boys with me to seminars to learn how to respond to questions. My oldest child operates his camera.”
Please help Zia’s apologetics efforts for RC in Pakistan by clicking here to donate online to RC International. If you send a check, you can specify “Pakistan” in the information field at the bottom of your check.
Content in blogs does not necessarily represent Ratio Christi’s views. Details