From the heart of Pakistan to life as a minister in Witney

The Revd Asif Karam has travelled almost 4000 miles from hishome in Lahore, Pakistan to serve as a Methodist minister inWitney, Oxfordshire. In September last year, Asif joined the WorldChurch Partners in Britain programme, through which ministers fromother countries have the chance to live and work as a Methodistminister in the UK for five years. He arrived in Witney six monthsago, but he says 'I hardly had time to draw breath until now wehave been so busy with adjusting to life here, learning about thetown and most of all in meeting people and making friends.'

It's quite a change from the teeming city of Lahore, with apopulation of over 8 million, to the market town of Witney. Asifand his family have had to adapt to very different weather (thesummer high in Lahore is often over 40 degrees centigrade), cultureand environment. But, he says, 'we have a lot more in common thanyou'd think. As soon as I saw a cricket pitch and some kids playingfootball then I knew I'd feel at home.'

Joined by his wife Rohama and their three daughters (know as the '3Zs': Zarah Edwin, Zoya Edwin and Zeenia Edwin), the family hasfound life in the UK quite different. Looking back on his first sixmonths, Asif said; 'It has been such a big adjustment for ourfamily to make but we're so pleased to have the opportunity to behere. At first we found the language and 'mind reading' a littledifficult but we have been overwhelmed by how loving and caringpeople are. It is wonderful to see that Christians have suchfreedom to worship here Ð at home, churches have a very tense timeand even have to worship under police custody for their ownsafety.'

Ordained into the Church of Pakistan, Asif served as a YouthCo-ordinator to a lively and involved congregation of more than 200and brings with him a passion to see more young people becominginvolved in the life of the Church; 'Young people want to come to achurch with change, a church that has fresh ideas and is willing totake risks. A church that does not move with the passage of changecannot grow'.

'Although I'm only here for a short period of time, I want to makethe most of this opportunity to both learn and contribute to theChurch and community. I offer myself, saying 'Lord, use me as youcan'. It's better to burn out than rust out. When I return, I hopeto use all that I have learnt to set up an English-speakingChristian community in Lahore.'

Asif's wife, Rohama, is also an ordained minister who servedalongside him in Lahore, and although she is not serving full-timehere, she is now on the preaching plan and has become very involvedwith the life and work of the church. One of their initiatives forhelping Long Hanborough Methodist Church to become more involved inthe community is a special celebration of Pentecost. It will lookat how people from various nationalities and cultures were able tohear Jesus' disciples talking in their own languages at the firstPentecost after Jesus' resurrection. They will explore the 8 or 9languages spoken in the local community and how these can be usedto communicate the Gospel message.