How you made possible the publication of a book of daily Bible readings in Pakistan
"The Bible Sisters" – that is the name many Christians in Pakistan have for the Sisters of Saint Paul. And the Sisters are proud of this name! They not only run bookstores, but also go out into the parishes and villages and into Catholic schools, where they distribute Bibles and other religious books. They devote themselves entirely to the Bible and media apostolate, publishing books and audiovisual teaching materials for catechesis.
Unfortunately, many Muslims are extremely hostile to this work, and the danger is very real. In June 2005, the bookstore run by the Saint Paul's Sisters in Karachi was raided by police when some newspapers claimed there were Christian videos disparaging the life of the Prophet Mohammed. The police confiscated a number of films and CDs and arrested one of the sellers. The man was held for 24 hours, the Sisters intimidated and terrorized.
On another occasion the bookstore, which has been there since 1948, had to be closed after a shooting incident just outside. And in Lahore, the bookstore run by the Sisters was almost completely destroyed on March 11, 2008, by a devastating bomb blast outside a nearby police station – which also severely damaged the Cathedral of Lahore and several other Church buildings on the same site. Some 30 people were killed and almost 250 wounded.
Sister Timothy Villaram recalled at the time how "one Sister had just stooped down at that moment to pick something up off the floor. At the very same moment the glass from the shattered shop window flew through the room. Had she been standing up, her head would surely have been blown off." The whole shop was destroyed, and the roof and ceiling fell in. The walls collapsed and even the foundation of the building was destroyed by the force of the explosion.
Only the pictures of the saints were left undamaged. "That was what convinced our Sisters once again that they are under the protection of our special patrons. We ask everyone to give thanks to the Lord for having shown His loving presence among us," Sister Timothy wrote. On that occasion ACN helped to rebuild the bookshop.
The Sisters are in no way discouraged by the experience. They continue their work as before. And so it is that, with the help of ACN, they have now published a series of books with the daily readings for each liturgical year, in Urdu, the national language of Pakistan. Our benefactors gave $21,100 this project.
"This was in response to the wish of our poor Christians, who wanted to know how they could meditate on and practise the Word of God," writes Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw of Lahore. "The priests, catechists and parents are all happy to be able to use it for the Lectio Divina and will use it above all to instruct the young apostles in how to respect the word of God and pray with it," he continued.
Together with the Sisters and all the
Catholic faithful, the Archbishop sends his heartfelt thanks to all the
benefactors of ACN for their generous help.
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