NEW

Letter: Evangelical BINOs?

Letter Evangelical BINOs? Dear Editor, Your editorial on the Rise of the BINO (Bishop in Name Only) highlighted what church members have observed many years, how bishops have kept their titles, robes and status while emptying their role of defending and upholding...

Who’s Who at St Hugh’s? Secret Conversations on Sexuality Come to Light

Who’s Who at St Hugh?Secret Conversations on Sexuality Come to Light Recent correspondence and blog posts have revealed the existence of a hitherto-secret meeting between conservative/evangelical groupings and liberal/progressive bishops, seeking to reach structural...

Book Reviews: Baptism & Confirmation & Patterns for Baptism

Book Reviews Baptism and Confirmation Church House Publishing, 2022 (ISBN: 9780715123522, 468pp, £40) Patterns for Baptism Church House Publishing, 2022 (ISBN: 9780715123492, 392pp, £25) These handsome volumes are the latest additions to Common Worship, the Church of...

The Diverse Excellencies of Jesus Christ: Gospel-Driven Anglicanism

Gospel-Driven Anglicanism By the Revd Dr Mark Pickles The Diverse Excellencies of Jesus Christ  The American Theologian and Pastor, Jonathan Edwards (1703 -1758), once preached a sermon entitled “The Admirable Conjunction of Diverse Excellencies in Jesus Christ”. The...

The Cancelling of the Creator

The Cancelling of the Creator The headline from a national newspaper popped up on my phone: “Daniel Radcliffe is surely the world’s most ungrateful man”. It’s not a title many would be scrambling to win for themselves, but the opinion-piece made the case. Daniel...

Melville-Knox Christian School Opens in Aberdeen

Melville-Knox Christian School Opens in Aberdeen Melville-Knox Christian School Aberdeen officially opened on Monday 7th November after years of prayer, planning and organisation. We give thanks to the Lord that we have been able to reach this significant milestone;...

Barnabas Report: At Least 21 Christians Killed in Mozambique

Barnabas Report At Least 21 Christians Killed in Mozambique During October At least 21 Christians have been killed by Islamist extremists in violent attacks throughout October in northern Mozambique. Jihadists set fire to a church building and several houses in the...

Sanctuary Foundation Offers Free Advent Resource

Sanctuary Foundation Offers Free Advent Resource  Sanctuary Foundation has been aiding those trying to offer assistance for those fleeing the war in Ukraine through its, “Homes for Ukraine” scheme.  The charity has been serving as a liaison by resourcing hosts and...

Annual Clive West Memorial Lecture Set for Belfast

Annual Clive West Trust Lecture Set for Belfast The 2022 Clive West Trust Lecture will take place on Thursday, 22 November at St Nicholas’ Church on the Lisburn Road in Belfast at 19:30. This year’s featured speaker is the Revd Dr Tim Ward.  Ward earned his PhD from...

Church of England Council Rejects Croft’s Position

Church of England Evangelical Council Rejects Croft’s Position In a press statement following the pronouncements of Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford, the Church of England Evangelical Council repudiated the departure of biblical teaching advocated by Croft. It said,...

Barnabas Fund: The Martyrdom of William Saraj in Pakistan

Barnabas Fund Report

The Martyrdom of William Saraj in Pakistan

Brother of Barnabas Fund Regional Coordinator

“I praise God and am so proud that I am the daughter of a martyr and the wife of a martyr too.” – daughter of William Saraj and widow of another martyr

“I praise and thank God that I belong to a family of martyrs.” – Wilson Saraj, who has lost five relatives as martyrs including his brother William

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” (Psalm 116:15)

The well-known verse seems to have an extra depth of meaning for the tragic death of William Siraj on Sunday 30 January. Not only had William been a faithful follower of the Lord Jesus all his life but also his death came in the midst of serving his beloved Lord and, furthermore, he was singled out for death because of that service.

William’s tragic death has rocked the Barnabas Fund family, because he was the eldest brother of Wilson Saraj, known and loved by many as the Barnabas Regional Coordinator for Pakistan and several other South Asian countries. 

Gunned down after church service

On the day of his martyrdom William, a lay pastor, had been preaching at the Sunday service at a church in Gulbahar district, near Peshawar. William had gone to this church every Sunday since it was started, more than ten years ago. At first he led the services single-handed, and then, as the congregation grew, in collaboration with an ordained pastor from the Church of Pakistan.

“Everybody loved him,” said a relative to Barnabas Fund. “He worked so hard and was so gentle and caring. He had no enemies.”

After the service was over the two pastors were driving home together, when gunmen on a motorcycle fired through the car window at them. William was killed, but Rev. Patrick Naeem was unharmed, a bullet merely passing through his clothes.

The Pakistani authorities have leapt into action to try to arrest the perpetrators. A possibility, raised by Human Rights Focus Pakistan, is that the gunmen were from an Islamist group and had come over the border from Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, which is only a few dozen kilometres from Peshawar.

Passionately serving the Lord

William Saraj had always been energetic and passionate in Christian ministry. He took every opportunity to share the Word of God. Indeed, his favourite song was Anjeel ko Phelana Ye Kam Humara (Spreading the Word of God is our work).

An excellent sprinter and cricketer, he earned his living first working for Pakistan Railways and then as a physical education instructor at the University Public School, Peshawar. But every evening he would be out preaching and teaching in the Christian bustees (slums), on his own initiative.

Then came the call from his church, All Saints, Peshawar, to start a church for a community of poor and uneducated Christians, mostly doing low-paid, dirty jobs for the municipality. They had been re-settled by the municipality in what is called in Pakistan a “Christian colony” when their former homes were demolished to make room for a new road. 

From the very beginning, William was there to give pastoral care, teach, encourage, lead and guide the vulnerable Christians. He was there to care for them when seven of their members died in a suicide bombing at All Saints Church that killed over 120 people on 22 September 2013. William’s son-in-law was also one of those who died that day. Since then the church at the Christian Colony by Peshawar’s ring road has been called Shaheedan-E-All Saints Church, meaning “Martyrs and All Saints Church”.

“Please don’t stop me”

“He was so committed,” says Wilson about William. “He would often say to his wife: ‘Please do not ask me to stop going out to preach and pray with people.’” In fact, his wife had asked him not to go to church the very Sunday of his martyrdom. William had had a slight accident the day before and was not fully well. But he replied to her, “Please don’t stop me from going, because I have prepared and I have to preach a sermon.”  

Previous

Next