13 December 2023

Pakistani Christians in Wales

The contribution of Pakistani Christians to the community and society has been recognised at the Senedd Cymru – the Welsh Parliament.

A Christmas celebration, with a live nativity scene and, of course, a Christmas tree covered in twinkling lights, took place at the Pierhead building in Cardiff, Wales to recognise the Pakistani Christians’ contribution to the Welsh community and to society. Let your light shine in the world, like the Light of Christ.

The Welsh Parliament is a secular institution, nonetheless by the invitation of the Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan, the event recognising the life and contributions of Pakistani Christians took place in an atmosphere of Christmas festivity. The Urdu-Punjabi speaking community from all over Wales were represented during the event. The Superintendent Minister of the Cardiff Circuit, the Revd Catherine Gale, was present and cut a cake to move the celebration towards food and drinks.

This event is the result of a long-term ministry by the Methodist Church in Wales. This ministry started with the welcome that the Wales Synod gave to Revd Irfan and family when they arrived in the UK leaving behind persecution in Pakistan. The Methodist Church in Wales welcomed the family and the rest is history. The event at the Parliament is the culmination of 16 years of ministry working with Christians coming from Pakistan and other parts of the world.

The Synod had the vision for welcoming, bringing them in, and integrating them in the life of the Methodist Church. Revd Irfan became the enabler of Culturally Diverse Congregations in Wales. Since their arrival, Revd Irfan - and family - are coordinating a ministry of mobilising the Pakistani Community across the Synod, and also of planting new language diverse congregations. They have a Guinness Book of Records entry for the most ‘Most Nationalities in a Nativity Play’ with performers from 56 different countries taking to the stage. There are now Urdu-Punjabi-Hindi speaking congregations at Trinity Centre in Cardiff and in also in Swansea. These are part of the Circuit Preaching Plan as language diverse congregations. 

Beyond gathering the people from Pakistan, enabling a sense of being a community, of welcome and support for the new arrivals, Revd Irfan is very much focusing on encouragement for the second generation, the young people. At the event in the Welsh Parliament, the youngsters were recognised for their role in society as doctors, lawyers and business people. Amongst them, there was a well-known figure in Methodism, Daud Irfan, a former Methodist Church Youth President, and a new leader in the making, the Global Church Youth representative: Elisha Atif. Other youngsters were recognised. They also presented the live nativity scene, sang Christmas songs, and played their instruments.

The Revd Stephen Poxon, Chair of the Fellowships Sub-Committee, and R. F. Leão-Neto were present at the festivity representing the wider Connexion language diverse ministry. The Gospel of John 9:5 was read as part of the final blessing, Jesus saying: ‘As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world’. Let that light continue to shine in the wider Welsh community through the ministry of the Pakistani Christians in Wales.

 

Leão Neto

Global Communities Officer

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