Andrew's and Reuben's stories from Pakistan

Posted by Josiah Hemp on 6/24/24 5:01 PM

Student stories from President Haye's recent ministry trip to Pakistan

When President Haye asked rising juniors Reuben Umana and Andrew Penrod if they would join him on a trip to serve in Pakistan with All Neighbors International, he told them to prayerfully consider it. After prayer and advice from others, both volunteered.

“[It] was a real opportunity to answer the call to ministry in this different context, so it was on my heart to commit to it,” Umana said. Umana’s family did outreach to local Muslims during his childhood, sharing the Bible and meals with Muslims in mosques. He saw that experience as preparation for this call to minister on the trip to Pakistan.

“I decided to go to Pakistan because I thought the Lord had given me an amazing opportunity,” Penrod said. He wanted to contribute to the purpose of the trip, “to go help the persecuted church, and talk to government officials about ending persecution.”

Read President Haye's Story From Pakistan!

The night before they left, Penrod looked up from packing and told Umana, his roommate, “‘Reuben, we are going to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.’ We both were just stunned and grateful to the Lord for the opportunity.”

“I really did not know what to expect,” Penrod said. “[I was] praying the Lord would keep us safe.”

A Dangerous Trip

Penrod said safety “was a daily worry of mine, which I had to surrender to the Lord and ask for forgiveness for not trusting in Him, especially when we were in dangerous situations.”Pakistan-7 Smaller

During their flight to Dubai, their first stop, Iran launched missiles at Israel, and their plane rerouted. In Dubai, which is a relatively open nation, guards stopped and searched them, and they took Christian books they had planned to give to Muslims who were hosting them for dinner. Because the Bibles they carried were covered with cloths, the guards didn’t see them, and they were able to bring them to their hosts.

20240428_142606When they arrived in Pakistan, Penrod said he was “alarmed to see many men with AK-47s, because I knew that we were a Christian minority in an Islamic nation.” He prayed while the men questioned the group’s leader. The men turned out to be Pakistan Rangers sent to protect them. Wherever they went, the Rangers went with them, carrying their AK-47s while riding in open trucks in front of and behind them. At night, the Rangers guarded their hotels.

During the trip, while they were safely in their hotel in Quetta, two Christians were murdered in the streets. “It was saddening and really eye-opening to see that death is very close to us,” Penrod said. “It was definitely a dangerous trip.”

Learning from the Persecuted Church

Both Penrod and Umana said they learned much from seeing the persecuted church in Pakistan. “There’s a reality to taking up your cross because you have been called to live for Christ,” Umana said. “There will be challenges for that, but the Lord will be with you through all those challenges, therefore you have hope.”

Penrod remembers seeing five-year-old children sitting on the edges of streets. “It really convicted me … to serve the Lord with all the blessings that we have,” he said.

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In Quetta, the Hayes, Penrod, and Umana all got sick. Pakistani Christians came to theirPakistan-10 hotel rooms to check on them and bring them food and water. “They treated us so well,” Penrod said. “I remembered the words of Paul, ‘Do good to all men, especially those of the household of faith.’ They showed us so much kindness and love in the Lord Jesus Christ. … they had much joy and much love for Christ, but financially they did not have much, and they still showed love for Christ by helping us.”

They also visited churches, and the Pakistan Rangers, as always, followed them. “It was almost evangelism for the military,” Penrod said. “The military was able to see [Pakistani Christians'] joy even in their poverty.”

Advocating for Freedom

Umana described the focus of the trip as “Christian advocacy and bridge building.”

They participated in meetings between Muslims and Christians, including meetings with government officials. “Each time we had an Interfaith Harmony meeting, we were there before the meeting and we would pray that the Lord would use the time for his glory, and … that seeds would be planted, that [it would] build trust between Muslims and Christians, and for Muslims to see the light of Christ,” Umana said.

20240428_114543One Muslim man came up to Umana and said that “he loved that all of our demeanors were so joyful … it just stuck out to me as a testament of the Lord’s Spirit,” Umana said.

Bibles in Mosques

In Islamabad, they met an imam to whom All Neighbors International provided Bibles. When the imam was a child, he saw references to the Christian Bible in the Quran, so he asked his imam if he could read it. His imam would not let him.

Years later, when this man became an imam, he wanted the members of his mosque to be able to read the Bible, so he asked local Christians for copies of the Bible. Thinking it was a trap (a real danger in Pakistan), the Christians refused. Later, the imam asked Ilyas Masih, the leader of All Neighbors International, for Bibles. Masih brought 400 Bibles in Urdu to Pakistan, many of which went to the imam, who shared them with 30 other mosques.

Now, he and 12 other imams have a weekly Bible study. As far as Umana knows, the imam is still a Muslim, but Bibles have now made their way into the hands of many Muslims in Pakistan through All Neighbors International.

Sharing the Gospel, Seeing the Gospel's Power

Umana and Penrod shared parts of the gospel with college students in Islamabad as well, although sharing the full gospel would have been illegal. “Many of them were not happy with Islam,” Penrod said. “[That was a] really impactful memory of mine.”

“We visited churches with bullet holes and broken walls. … Even being in the face of persecution, they were still trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, revering Christ as Lord, and holding onto the faith even unto death,” Penrod said. “Christ is worth it. Jesus Christ is worth life and death and everything else.”

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 Patrick Henry College exists to glorify God by challenging the status quo in higher education, lifting high both faith and reason within a rigorous academic environment; thereby preserving for posterity the ideals behind the "noble experiment in ordered liberty" that is the foundation of America.


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