Conference on Christian Theology, witness and practice in the context of Islam and Pakistan: Promoting understanding and discipleship. 22nd October,2023 Christian Study Center organized a conference on Christian Theology, witness and practice in the context of Islam and Pakistan: Promoting understanding and discipleship at CSC Rawalpindi. 35 participants from different churches and organizations participated in this conference. Fr. James Channan OP, Mr. Asher Nazir and Madam Neelam Nisari participated from Peace Center Lahore. Rev. Prof. Charles Amjad Ali was keynote speaker in this conference of Christian Theology, witness and practice in the context of Islam and Pakistan promoting understanding and discipleship.

Fr. Rapheal Menga OP, Dr. Farhana Nazir and Dr. Maqsood Kamal were resource persons and Fr. James Channan OP was moderator. The resource persons talked on different topic as Fr. Raphael Māhanga OP shared his views on Participation of the Church with Christian community at all level. Dr Farhana Nazir talked on who is my neighbour in the context of Holy Bible. Dr. Maqsood Kamal talked on Christian theology in the Islamic context of Pakistan

Mr. Christopher shared the introduction of Christian Study Center and objective the conference. He gave the introduction of CSC Rawalpindi. The Christian Study Centre was founded in 1967 as an institution firmly rooted from its inception in the ecumenical tradition and vision of the Church, with the support and guidance of numerous ecumenical Church organisations and individuals, and commenced formal operations in 1968. The Centre was conceived as an independent, non-profit institution for the express purpose of investigating Christianity and Islam.  Thus, the objective was to serve Christian Churches, individuals and institutions with comparable interests in ecumenical research trends and to establish a comparative studies centre. Over time, it transformed into a hub for dialogue, social change, human and minority rights, peacebuilding, and interfaith harmony. The Christian Study Centre reflects our commitment to deepening faith, promoting interfaith harmony, and fostering intellectual engagement within a faith-based context.

Bishop Samuel Azariah Director Christian Study Centre welcomed to the participants and he talked about the objectives of the conference on Christian theology, witness and practice in the context of Islam and Pakistan: Promoting understanding and discipleship.

He said that God's plan from the beginning was to form an inclusive community. Throughout biblical history this vision has focused on a universal brotherhood, a chosen nation, and the church. The human tendency is to limit relationships and responsibility. An individual's concerns center around self, one's family, and one’s people. Men and women follow only at a distance the God who “loved the world and gave Himself for it” (John 3:16). The good of the community is a higher principle than individual wants or needs. 2. In the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10) Jesus stressed that neighborliness extends beyond family and racial boundaries and takes precedence over religious duties and commercial interests.  Programs which benefit only one family or group and therefore deny the principle of community should not be supported financially. Biblical patterning would encourage a shift of concern from self, to family, to community.  Community is a more biblical concept than communalism. Building bridges of understanding between ethnic groups is a Kingdom activity. It accords with God's creation intent.

In first session Fr. Rapheal Menga OP talked on participation of the church with Christian community at all level and through sharing and questions answering he involved the participants. Holy Bible he shared the verse that I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.  Who is my neighbour?” he asked Jesus. You see, rabbinical teaching during this time taught that one’s neighbour could be narrowly defined as a fellow observant Jew. Tax collectors, gentiles, and especially Samaritans were excluded. Galatians 1:4: The Lord Jesus Christ is the One “who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” He gave Himself for our sins; He paid the penalty and provided atonement.

With it he shared that as Christians we are facing many difficulties in our society and our Christian youth have to face discrimination and they have to study compulsory subject Islamic Study in schools and colleges. As Christians we should act according to our Christian values and in our actions, people known that we are Christians.

Dr. Farhana Nazir talked on the topic of the theology of the neighbor and she shared the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke’s Gospel (10:25-37) is Jesus Christ most well-known teaching.

It epitomizes the heart of Christian faith and the great Commandment to love God and one’s neighbors.

“Go and do likewise” like the Samaritan is not well understood and less often put into practice.

The Samaritan’s example sets a standard that is not met by random acts of kindness; Samaritan-like neighbor love means acting with courage, compassion, and generosity in boundary-breaking solidarity to care for those most in need. The Samaritan’s actions depict the preferential option for the poor. This dissertation proposes a “theology of neighbor” Maqsood Kamal shared the situation of Christian before and after partition of Pakistan. In present era he presented a brief analysis of Christian in social, political and religious aspect.

He shared that Christians have continued to suffer targeted violence and other abuses, including land-grabbing in rural areas, abductions and forced conversion, and the vandalization of homes and churches. Throughout history, Christians have faced persecution and opposition for their faith. Jesus Himself warned His disciples that they would be hated and persecuted for His name's sake (John 15:20). As followers of Christ, we may encounter hostility, discrimination, or even physical harm because of our beliefs. However, we are called to stand firm in our faith and trust in God's strength to overcome these challenges. play a significant role in our spiritual growth as Christians, shaping and molding us into the people God intends us to be. While we may naturally desire a life free from difficulties, the Bible teaches us that it is through trials and tribulations that our faith is refined and strengthened. Refining and Strengthening Faith: Just as gold is purified in fire, our faith is refined through the challenges we face. When we encounter trials, we have the opportunity to trust God more deeply and rely on His strength. It is in these moments of testing that our faith is put to the test and emerges stronger. James 1:3-4 says, "Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." This scripture reminds us that the testing of our faith produces patience, leading to spiritual maturity and completeness

Reported by:
Asher Nazir


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