Calvary Chapel Pakistan Missions: Equipping Cultural Christians
Story by Debra Smith
Photos by Joseph Arif and Nadeem Massey
In 2011, nearly three million Pakistanis were identified as Christians due to cultural heritage, but most lacked the Gospel and the Word of God. Calvary Chapel Pakistan Missions distributes Bibles and literature that proclaims Christ’s truth among this often-oppressed minority that is frequently targeted by cults.
This article was originally published in Issue 46, Winter 2011. In an October 14, 2020, newsletter, Nadeem Massey reported that the ministry has started online classes in different towns. [It is] amazing to see how powerfully the Word of God touches and transforms the lives of believers,” he said. In addition, he shared that God has allowed them to produce teaching in video format, with all teaching notes professionally added. For more information about this ministry, go to sgwm.com/massey. Look for a story about Calvary Chapel Pakistan Missions in an upcoming issue.
Despite feeling withered by the blazing summer sun, the three believers knocked at the next gate. The village they were in, Tucky, contained an unusually high number of Christians for the majority-Muslim nation. But many of these traditional Christians had recently fallen prey to unbiblical teachings. Born into families converted to Christ generations ago, they had never personally known Jesus or studied Scripture. Foundationless, they had easily accepted distortions of Christianity. As Nadeem, Mr. Arif, and Joseph pressed on, Nadeem’s cell phone rang. “Are you the ones distributing literature with your number on the back?” asked the young caller. “I am so happy to know this information!” the young man continued. “I have many Mormon friends who have been challenging my brain. I finally promised I would join their church—this Sunday. But now I am shocked, learning from your pamphlet how Mormon teaching is not according to the Bible. Otherwise, I would have become a Mormon!”
Nadeem Massey of Calvary Chapel Pakistan Missions discusses the differences between the Bible and the Qur’an with a Muslim man who questioned the Christians about their literature before requesting a Bible.
Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, … that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine. Ephesians 4:13a-14a
Nadeem and Farah Massey of Calvary Chapel Pakistan Missions have been serving the nation’s traditional Christians for five years. Their ministry partners, Joseph and his father Mr. Arif—who is thus respectfully addressed due to cultural esteem for age—joined them in 2009. Mr. Arif was previously a rickshaw driver and Joseph an attendant at a local Christian bookshop. Nadeem met the two while preaching at the shop’s monthly prayer day. Today, the team teaches Bible studies, translates Christian resources, and conducts seminars exposing popular cults’ distortions of Scripture. They also visit five to seven villages per week, giving Bibles and explanatory literature to poverty-stricken cultural Christians who lack pastors, churches, and God’s Word.
Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.” John 21:17b
Many of Pakistan’s Christians plant wheat or rice for meager daily wages. Their children often assist, despite the extreme heat.
Losing and Gaining
Nadeem grew up in a traditional Christian family and dropped out of a Pakistani seminary in 1996, disheartened by his teachers’ materialism, hypocrisy, and immorality. “I was so frustrated from the experience that I quit praying, going to church, or … thinking about God,” explained Nadeem. “My only aim was to go abroad and make money.” He and Farah married in 2004; but initially, “We didn’t have jobs, so it was a very tough time,” Nadeem said. “I felt that because I had left seminary, maybe God had rejected me.” Late one night when the two were hungry and lacked resources for dinner, a man they had recently met at a market dropped by with a hot meal. “I was astonished that someone brought food at 11 o’clock,” remembered Nadeem. “This showed us that God had not rejected us. After we ate, we prayed together. We gave ourselves to God, saying, ‘We do love You; we will serve You. Please guide and lead us.’”
Nadeem Massey hands a pamphlet about cults to a cultural Christian in the village of Boher Wali Basti.
Soon Nadeem and Farah got wonderful jobs and began an upwardly-mobile city lifestyle. Then, said Nadeem, “I felt the Lord reminding me of our promise to serve Him.” They felt called to the villages, but leaving behind a comfortable city existence for the deprivation of rural living was daunting. Nadeem also felt unqualified to teach the Bible, not having completed seminary. Amidst this struggle, Farah met Anna Simic of Calvary Chapel Wildwood in Yucaipa, CA, on the Internet. Anna prayed for the couple, directed them to God’s Word, and sent Bible study resources. She shared their vision with others, and in 2005, supported by Anna and her friends, the Masseys left their jobs and moved to Chourah village.
“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25
Mr. Arif of CC Pakistan Missions gives an Urdu Bible and explanatory literature to traditional Christians in Maray Wali village. Placing the right hand on a younger person’s head is a cultural gesture of blessing.
For nearly two years, Nadeem and Farah gratefully did full-time village ministry and translated Christian resources into Pakistan’s main language, Urdu. Then in 2007, Anna lost her job. As the Masseys prayed for provision and reconsidered the lure of profitable city jobs, Nadeem discovered the website of Saving Grace World Missions. He emailed the director, who was eager to reach Pakistan, and soon, the couple joined the organization as missionaries to their own people.
From the Rooftop
A few months ago, CC Pakistan Missions began a Bible study called “Upper Room” in their base city, Gujranwala. Pakistan’s cities, Nadeem said, are hotbeds of health-and-wealth teachings that distort the Gospel into a promise of physical prosperity. Despite this environment, these believers desire God’s Word more than material riches; the group, which began with 23 attendees, has already grown to more than 50. “Our students are very happy to study the Word of God deeply, verse by verse,” Nadeem said. “They come from every age group and class of life—college students, housewives, factory workers, rickshaw drivers, and more.” After spring monsoons, the Friday night study is held on a rooftop to gain the breeze’s relief from Pakistan’s scorching summer.
A Christian woman in the village of Sensra prepares her family’s dinner.Cow dung is used to fuel the fire.
Two elderly widows—sisters—attend faithfully despite their difficulties ascending the stairs. “One has a backbone problem, and the other cannot walk well because of leg pain,” Nadeem explained. “But they love to come. My wife and I talk to them often and encourage them in the Lord. We also take them to the doctor for their checkups. Now they call me their son. They are a great encouragement to me.”
Christians comprise 1.7 percent of Pakistan’s population. Yet due to the diversity of teachings all being proclaimed in the name of Christianity, Nadeem said this tiny minority finds unity difficult to attain. When study member Faisal Mickael began coming, “He was not satisfied at first,” Nadeem recalled, “because he suspected my teaching might be faulty.” Through several challenging conversations, however, the two men found agreement—around the centrality of Scripture. “Faisal is a very committed Bible student,” Nadeem said. “He brings his wife and many others. They love the Bible teaching.”
Nadeem teaches on Genesis at a Friday night rooftop Bible study in the city of Gujranwala. Many of his enthusiastic students had never studied verse by verse.
Giving What Lasts
The Qur’an is a mandatory part of Pakistan’s school curriculum, Nadeem explained. His own son learns about Islam at school, as will his daughter. “We have to teach our children the Bible,” he said. “They learn so many things at school, and they become confused. We must teach them at home.” Recently, the Masseys learned of the only children’s Bible in Urdu—“a very good translation, with colorful pictures,” Nadeem said. The ministry purchased 100 copies, which they have begun distributing in villages—equipping the next generation with God’s Word.
In addition to books by World Missionary Press, Nadeem has translated How Can A Man Be Born Again? and An Effective Prayer Life by Pastor Chuck Smith. He studies online through Calvary Chapel Bible College in Murrieta, CA, and hopes to begin a Calvary Chapel church and Bible college upon ordination.
Nadeem discusses God and His Word with cultural Christians, builders, in Chan Da Qilla village. He and Mr. Arif gave the men literature to take home to their families.
Most of Pakistan’s Christians perform jobs of low societal esteem, such as brickmaking. Cultural and religious prejudices often prevent them from advancing socially and economically.
Joseph Arif reads an Urdu pamphlet about cultic distortions of Christianity to a villager in Sensra. Nadeem translated many of the resources the team distributes.
A youth carries Urdu Bibles that Calvary Chapel Pakistan Missions will give to village Christians, many of whom have never owned one.
All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version.
© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.