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Thursday, 8 November 2012

Shortlist for British Pakistani Christian Community Awards 2012

The atmosphere is electric as many of Britain's finest Pakistani Christian citizens are awaiting the results of the inaugral BPCA Community Awards tomorrow.  Our shortlist for the varied categories is listed below:

Angelo Gennaro Sguro.  For 20 years he has organized conferences and programs around human rights in Italy, particularly child Labour and the Persecution of Christians in Pakistan.  He worked with Shahbaz Bhatti, and after Bhatti's assassinatinon, he has established an international Peace Award in Bhatti’s name.  He has also formed a think tank to come up with a strategy for improving the situation for Christians in Pakistan.

John Sultan, a Pakistani Christian living in Italy, founded the Association of Pakistani Christians in Italy, and for 15 years has been promoting the cause, working with state and government authorities.  The organisation helps 200 Christian girls with their studies in Pakistan, along with a number of other projects to help Christians in Pakistan, along with raising the profile of the Christian plight on an international level. 

Dan Wooding, British, but now in the USA, is Chief Editor and President of ASSIST News Service, a branch of an Aid organisation he set up for suffering Christians.  He has won many awards for his reporting, and gets the word about suffering Christians, including those of Pakistan, to many media outlets, raising their profile and gaining prayer across the world, but especially in the USA.

Since the late 80’s Watson Gill has been campaigning for Christian rights in Pakistan, including going on hunger strike, and suffering beating at the hands of the police.  He escaped to Holland in 1996, where he continued to campaign against the blasphemy law and for the Christians of Pakistan, lobbying Dutch and EU politicians and the Pakistani embassy.  He has also helped improve the situation for Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in the country. 

Xavier William has been working for marginalized communities in Pakistan since 2005, in the face of threats and pressure, helping out flood and warfare victims, helped lead the work in petitioning for change in the blasphemy laws, and runs an education program that provides free informal education for over 2200 children in the Punjab in 23 schools.  He has also set up a drug addiction program, and helped minority trade unionists to gain more equal rights. 

Stephen and Thomsena Anjum.  Stephen has been a friend of Shahbaz Bhatti since college, where he was part of the Christian Liberation Front.  Thomsena worked with Shahbaz in the case of a Christian girl sexually attacked and burnt with acid in 2002.  They have also helped 1000’s of Christian families with food, disability, education and other programmes against sometimes fierce opposition.  In 2009 they had to flee to the UK after their son was beaten for refusing to convert to Islam, and they continue to work for Pakistani Christians, including helping asylum seekers, speaking in Parliament, and Treasury work for Churches Together in Birmingham.

Rev Rana Youab Khan is the Archbishop of Canterbury’s International Inter faith Dialogues Assistant, and is Secretary of the Pakistan focus group, and has been a lecturer in Hebrew in Punjab University.  As well as helping with theological and human rights training in Pakistan, he has been instrumental in increasing Christian-Muslim dialogue both in the UK and in Pakistan, and in raising the profile of Pakistan in Lambeth Palace. 

John Bosco is a Pastor, TV anchor and Human Rights activist.  He has used his skills and positions to raise awareness of persecuted Christians, particularly those of Egypt and Pakistan, including his roles in Christian Social Link UK, Pakistani Minority Rights Organisation, Gateway TV and MATV London.  He has campaigned for many victims of blasphemy laws, including engaging with MP’s, Lords and the Pakistani High Commissioner, and organised several protest marches, as well as boldly lambasting Pakistani media attitudes to coverage of blasphemy law issues. 

Sally and Hammad Baily ‘Voice for Jesus’ are a multicultural band.  Hammad is a composer and vibrant performer at an International level, leading worship at the South Asian Global Convention and together they do much to raise awareness of the suffering of Christians in Pakistan.  They have organized fund raising concerts for the musical instruments for poor Pakistani churches, and to help the Gojra victims, and visited Gojra to perform for and encourage the survivors.  Hammad also works performing for the homeless in the UK.

Although not up for an award, the BPCA would like to give a special honorary mention to Liaquat Munawar Masih for his constant work under threat to help the poor Christians in Karachi, particularly at Essa Nagri, along with Eric Sarwar and his wife who do so much for building up worship and theology and Sunday School work in Pakistan, also often under threats from Muslim extremists. 

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