The bad news came as Christian Freedom International’s volunteers were distributing food and provisions to refugees from Pakistan last month. A Christian family, who is hiding in Thailand while seeking asylum, was arrested while on the way to pick up the aid and food packet.
“We prayed together from the core of our heart,” said a CFI volunteer, “and in the evening we heard the good news that immigration released them. Really, it’s a miracle.”
The UN says over 11,000 Pakistanis are seeking asylum in Thailand. All of them are Christian, according to a report by British Parliamentarians who work on International Freedom of Religion or Belief.
The flood of Christians fleeing Pakistan began with the rise of terrorist attacks on churches and false accusations of blasphemy that fuel mob violence. Christians regularly face discrimination in jobs, the judicial system, education and housing.
While waiting on the UN to act on the backlog of requests for asylum, many have overstayed their visas. With no legal status in Thailand, they cannot work legally and many children are unable to attend school. They stay hidden in small, crowded apartments and survive on day-to-day jobs and donations.
In 2015, Thai officials conducted raids just before Christmas, arresting 63 Christians, with 25 taken on Christmas Eve.
Pakistani Christians in Thailand, “no longer fear for their lives, but face other fears like arrest, hunger and the possibility that they will never be able to live freely,” reports the Express Tribune.
This is where Christian Freedom International (CFI) has stepped in, hiring Pakistani Christian refugees to sew t-shirts as part of the CFI Micro-enterprise Program. CFI also provides food and resources, and runs a small school for the asylum seeking Christian children in Bangkok.
One CFI volunteer visits 5 to 7 families each day to pray and share God’s word with them.
“We are all getting blessed and our faith is growing strong day by day in this difficult time,” he said.
Donors to CFI sponsor whole families or individual children to provide food and schooling through monthly support. People also join the Freedom Fighters, and each month receive t-shirts manufactured by Pakistani Christian refugees and silk-screened with Bible messages by Christian refugees from Burma.
The surprising release of the Christian family reminded one volunteer of Psalm 146, which says:
5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God . . .
7 who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free; . . .
9 The Lord watches over the sojourners;
He upholds the widow and the fatherless,