Christian police officer's family funds construction of a church in Karachi's Malir prison
King of Kings Church in Malir prison in Karachi was built with the support of Angel Welfare Trust. (Photo supplied)
The family of Christian police officer Azhar Abdullah, deputy superintendent of police in Pakistan's Sindh province, funded the construction of King of Kings Church in Malir prison in Karachi.
“I was overwhelmed when I was asked to support the renovation of the church inside the prison. I felt it an opportunity that God has given me and my family to build his house. I said yes to it without looking at the place,” said Azhar.
“The place did not look like a church at all. It was a room with walls covered with nets. And that time the verse from the book of Prophet Haggai crossed my mind — ‘Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?’ I immediately decided to build a new church after supporting the basic renovation.
“I praise and thank God that with the help and support of Angel Welfare Trust we are able to complete the construction of this church in one year after fully demolishing the old structure.
“I hope and pray that this church will lead the Christian prisoners to get closer to God, get rooted in a life of prayer, repent, correct themselves and will change their lives to not continue as criminals in future.”
Kazi Nazir Ahmed, inspector general of police for prisons in Sindh province, along with police officials, members of Angel Welfare Trust and members of Azhar Abdullah’s family, cut the ribbon on a marble plaque and released balloons and doves to inaugurate the new facility for Christian prisoners on Jan. 3. The church was used for a prayer service on Jan. 9.
We always wanted correction of prisoners so that their lives should be changed and they will no longer continue as criminals once they are released after completing their punishment
“I pray that this facility will transform the lives of Christian prisoners, and they will experience peace when they come for prayers. In prison they are cut off from the world, become hopeless and see only God as their help. We feel it is the best time for them to be in prayer and build their relationship with God,” Ahmed said.
“We always wanted correction of prisoners so that their lives should be changed and they will no longer continue as criminals once they are released after completing their punishment. I hope their hearts and lives will change when they come for prayers. I also look forward to constructing a temple for Hindu prisoners.”
Angel Welfare Trust is an NGO working for prisoners in Pakistan without discrimination on the basis of caste, creed or ethnicity. It has installed water filter plants in various prisons in Sindh province, provides food to prisoners at religious festivals such as Christmas, Easter and Eid, and organizes medical check-ups for prisoners.
The new church built adjacent to a mosque on 100 square meters of land provided by prison officials is the first church constructed by Angel Welfare Trust.
“This new church is a huge blessing for our Christian prisoners, who number around 150. They use to pray in their cells. I thank all the police officials, our benefactors and volunteers for fulfilling this dream of having a new church for Christian prisoners,” Samina Nawab, a renowned Christian social worker and chairperson of Angel Welfare Trust, told UCA News.
“I pray that our Christian prisoners will repent to God and their lives will be changed. And they will hopefully become responsible citizens and leave their old life of crime and continue as good Christians in society.
“The next step is to construct a place where they can cleanse themselves before entering the church, and a sacristy for the priest who will come for prayer services.”
Syed Arshad Hussain Shah, superintendent of police for Malir prison, has monitored the project.
“The church in a prison is a symbol that we work for humanity, we care for and respect all faiths. And I am grateful to our inspector general for supporting and guiding this initiative. I see it as a blessing for Christian prisoners, who will now have a place to pray and worship their God.”
Hanook Masih, one of the prisoners who painted the church, voiced his joy. “We prisoners are joyful that we have a new church. At least we now have a place where we can go for prayer and feel mental peace for a short while.”
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