New church plant seeks to share gospel among Pakistanisby BSCNC Communications
*Matek ministered and shared the gospel in Pakistan for many years before the country he loved so dearly forced him out.
Raised in a Christian home in a country that is about 96 percent Muslim, Matek came to faith in Jesus Christ as a teenager and followed in his father’s footsteps of full time ministry. From open-air crusades to festivals and seminars, they shared the gospel and saw people come to faith in Christ.
“In our country it is really dangerous. That was very risky ministry,” Matek said.
A few years ago members of his family had to leave the country because of their ministry. In one village alone, nearly 150 Christians were killed.
Not long after, Matek was forced to flee the country and sent into hiding. Yet, despite risk of persecution and even death, he experienced much joy ministering in his home country.
“If we don’t reach the Muslim people, who will? I loved living in Pakistan,” he said. “We were satisfied with our ministry and work.”
Matek never desired to serve anywhere other than Pakistan, but about nine months ago he and his wife, *Miriam, came to live in High Point, N.C., which is home to about 1,300 Muslims from Pakistan. Matek is working to start the first Pakistani Baptist church in North Carolina.
Journey of faith
After fleeing Pakistan in 2010, Matek served in other countries, determined to still spread the gospel.
Once he received his visa everything fell into place for him to move to New York City to be with Miriam, who had been traveling back and forth between New York and Pakistan since they were married in 2009.
Miriam, who was living and working in New York, met Matek while in Pakistan visiting her family. They had an arranged marriage, and about one month after meeting, were married.
Miriam said she really came to know God while living in New York. “When you are alone, you feel empty. But God told me who He is. He is my Father; He is my everything.”
After Matek joined Miriam in New York they prayed for God to show them where to go next. While in California speaking at a conference they met Ralph Garay, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) Asian church planting consultant. Garay previously pastored a Filipino-American church in San Diego
Garay shared with Matek and Miriam the great need for a Pakistani church in North Carolina.
“Life was easy in New York,” Matek said. “Miriam had a good job. We had no contacts in North Carolina.”
Before even leaving New York they realized God was paving their way to North Carolina.
Answer to prayer
A few days before leaving New York Matek earned his driver’s license, but did not have a car. When Mark Gray, BSCNC church planting team leader, learned that Matek and Miriam were coming to North Carolina he shared their need with his church, Epoch Church, and the group provided a van for them to use.
When Larry Doyle, director of missions for Piedmont Baptist Association, heard about Matek and Miriam he connected them with Darryl Love, pastor of Crossover Community Church in High Point. A friend of Love’s provided a home for Matek and Miriam and the church furnished it.
“God was attaching us to people and we had never even met them,” Matek said.
For two years Love and Crossover Community prayed for God to help them reach the Pakistani people in their community. “You can’t get to our church in any direction without passing the home of a Pakistani. At one time, everyone looked like us. Now, we’re a minority,” Love said.
Love and Crossover Community are partnering with Matek as they see an answer to prayer unfold; someone to help them reach Pakistanis with the gospel.
“They have been accepted as family. They have become part of our lives. We are helping them build relationships with the community,” Love said.
Gray said Matek’s journey helps remind him of God’s sovereignty. “To think that God would bring him here on that incredible journey, to get him here, is phenomenal. The need was great to have a missionary who could come here to reach the Pakistanis in their culture and context,” he said.
Sharing in love
“We came here with just our luggage,” Matek said. “We came here to start a church; we came here to work.”
Matek is not afraid of working hard, nor is he afraid of challenges and even persecution.
“Persecution is the sign of revival. It’s the Spirit of God who encourages us to face that,” he said. “They are more blessed who face persecution than those who don’t face persecution.”
Matek and Miriam are focusing on meeting Pakistanis and Muslims in their community, building relationships and sharing the gospel.
“The first thing we need to do is love Muslims. Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself,” Matek said. “The second key thing is to pray for them. In our minds we often think that all Muslims are bad. We need to change our mindset. Never think it cannot be possible to reach a soul.”
Matek encouraged believers who want to reach people from other religious backgrounds and cultures to be intentional in meeting them. Every visit to a restaurant, store or gas station is an opportunity to meet someone.
“We can’t win souls if we don’t use the small opportunities. If we want to do something big, we can’t miss the small opportunities,” he said. “We can’t develop our church like other churches; it takes time to build relationships. One salvation response may take years. But we trust in God and He will make a way. He will do it.”
Matek cautioned against moving too quickly with Muslims and encouraged believers to be patient and faithful.
“Don’t go very fast,” he said. “But go every day. Go again and again and again.”
The North Carolina Missions Offering helps support church plants such as the Pakistani church. To learn more about how your church can be involved, please visit www.ncmissionsoffering.org.