May 2019 – Rizwan’s desire to become a gospel singer and spread the name of Jesus seemed like a dream that would never come true. The 13-year-old belonged to a Pakistani family of bonded laborers, a common form of slavery in many
“Bondage often begins when a worker takes a loan or salary advance from his or her employer to pay for a large expense, perhaps a religious ceremony, a wedding, or a medical bill,” according to the International Labor Organization. “Then the debtor, and frequently other family members, are obliged to work for the employer or contractor for reduced wages until the debt is repaid.
“Bonded laborers often have to take out additional loans just to survive. Their debts grow, creating a perpetual cycle of over‐indebtedness and exploitation.” When debts remain unpaid, they are passed down to the children, further perpetuating the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, debt, and bondage.
One family’s miracle
Such was the case with Rizwan. His father was a brickkiln worker, tied to the job by a debt he owed the company’s owner. Rizwan had to help his father make bricks every day after school, and it seemed almost certain that would be his future too – no hope of any other job, much less a music ministry. The debt was 250,000 rupees ($1,800 U.S.), an insurmountable debt for a poor
Then in walked a miracle known as the Barnabas Fund (Barnabas Aid). Now, Rizwan’s family debt has been paid and his family is free. Rather than being in bondage to the brickkiln the rest of his life, he can pursue his dream of becoming a gospel singer.
In situations like Rizwan’s, Barnabas Fund and its faithful supporters seek to aid the persecuted church in 60 countries. The ministry responds to the needs of Christians who are persecuted or marginalized because of their faith.
One nation’s tragedy
In January, Boko Haram, a jihadist terror group, wreaked havoc on Christian villages in northern Cameroon. Islamist militants burned homes, churches, and food stores, looted cattle and other personal property, and kidnapped or killed village inhabitants. Terrorists forced over 170,000 Cameroonians, many of whom are Christians, to flee, leaving them hungry and homeless.
Barnabas Fund’s goal is to supply each displaced Christian family with sacks of maize, blankets, sleeping mats, and soap.
Barnabas Fund COO Jeremy Frith told AFA Journal that when the organization was started 25 years ago, “There was a general disbelief regarding the threat of radical Islam and the persecution already taking place in many Muslim-majority countries … , [and] the persecution has increased massively ever since.”
Barnabas Fund’s calling, according to Frith, is “helping Christians who, in many cases, are denied state aid when disaster strikes … purely because of their faith.”
Although the benefits are certainly not exclusive to believers, aid is directed only to Christians, the majority of whom live in Muslim environments.
“We channel money from Christians through Christians to Christians, and through existing structures in the countries where funds are sent,” Frith said. “We encourage, strengthen, and enable the existing local church and Christian community so that they can maintain their presence and witness rather than setting up our own structures.”
Operating in this fashion allows Barnabas Fund to keep overhead around 12%; however, when a donation is ear-marked for 1 of 12 specific areas (e.g., Christian schools, water, medical care, church buildings, etc.), 100% of that donation is used where directed.
Barnabas Aid acts as a voice for the persecuted church making its needs known to Christians around the world as well as informing governments and international bodies of the injustice of Christian persecution.
In the world every month:
▶ 255 Christians are killed.
▶ 104 are abducted.
▶ 180 Christian women are raped, sexually harassed, or forced into marriage.
▶ 66 churches are attacked.
▶ 160 Christians are detained without trial and imprisoned.
Learn more at barnabasaid.org or call 866-936-2525.