By BosNewsLife Asia Service with reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos
LAHORE/MICHIGAN (BosNewsLife)– The young daughter of a Pakistani evangelist remained in hiding Wednesday, January 23, after Muslim extremists allegedly threatened to kill her.
“My 10-year-old daughter Shifa Gill is not going to school,” said Reverend Kamran Gill, who survived an assassination attempt while evangelizing in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
“She is hidden in a secure place right now,” he added.
Gill, who lived in provincial capital Lahore before fleeing to the United States this month, told BosNewsLife that the troubles began in June last year when he attempted to preach among those suffering in some of Punjab’s notorious brick kilns.
Overburdened by loans, some 4.5 million generations of workers spread across 18,000 kilns around the country toil for nothing more than a promise of freedom, according to the Asian Human Rights Commission.
Gill, a 39-year-old widow, said he wanted to spread the hope he found in Jesus Christ among workers, youth and other “marginalized communities” in the region.
Yet fearful of losing business, “Muslim extremists” oppose his Christian activities, which also include working for several aid and advocacy groups, he said.
“Muslim extremists threatened me and even tried to kill me when I tried to preach in a village,” Gill explained.
Accompanied by a fellow evangelist and his daughter, he was allegedly stopped by an angry crowd. “They insisted to stop us from coming in this village and preach.” He said soon after, one or more Muslim hardliners “opened fire” at him, but missed.
“I was saved by His graceful hands,” he recalled, referring to Jesus Christ. “Soon people from the village came out and they also ran after me.”
Several months later, a Swedish Christian missionary wasn’t so lucky. Birgitta Almeby, 71, was shot by suspected Muslim extremists in Lahore and eventually died December 3 in a Stockholm hospital.
Like Gill, she was also involved in aid and education projects for impoverished people.
Gill said he was forced to hide his daughter, after she initially remained at his home. “However I am very concerned about her,” he said. “I fear she will be killed.”
Gill’s Christian daughter isn’t the only child suffering for what militants call a “Western ideology”. This month Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl who survived an assassination attempt by Taliban militants, was discharged from a hospital in Britain.
Gill, whose wife passed away in September 2011, is concerned about the future of his small family.
The tensions have also added to concerns among local Christians. “It is ironic that a person stands to educate the masses, instead they start threatening him,” said Priest John Samuel from the Lahore Diocese.
Heavily Islamic Pakistan has come under international pressure to improve protection for minority Christians and children.
“Unfortunately a few people in Pakistan want to keep the people covered with illiteracy, so that they can use them for their gain, ” noted Samuel in a statement.
“We condemn such a violation of the basic human rights and we condemn the threats given to the evangelist for his work,” he said.
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