Sonntag, 19. Januar 2014

THE STORY OF SANAWAR MARK (Orthodoxy in Pakistan) is featuring articles on Orthodoxy in Pakistan, in the words of Fr. Joseph Farooq, a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. This time they  introduce us to Sanawar Mark, an Orthodox Pakistani. 
Fr. Joseph: I am a Russian Orthodox priest in Pakistan. I am an Assistant Rector at St. Sergius Orthodox Church Sargodha and visiting priest to Islamabad for Iranian families. To tell you honestly, it is a fact that in Pakistan very few people know about the Orthodox Church. The focus of my priestly ministry is to teach the Orthodox faith to our people and to conduct seminars to promote the Orthodox faith in Pakistan. I am responsible for translating the Orthodox literature into the local native language for our faithful. I am working for the rights of the oppressed Christian minority in Pakistan, writing articles against the discriminatory laws in Pakistan and for the restoration of human rights. I believe that after “the cross we will be partakers in the resurrection”.  
Yours in Christ, asking for your holy prayers for my health and endurance.

Sanawar Mark

Sanawar Mark is a software Engineer, he has a master’s degree in Information Technology. He develops and manages websites and provides IT solutions. He is a very active member of the Orthodox Mission in Pakistan. He grew up in the United Presbyterian Church in Pakistan, and Christianity was taught to him by his parents, pastor and school teachers. He was born in 1986 and he completed his early education from Catholic High School in Sargodha. He started reading Orthodox literature in 2008, and joined the Orthodox Study Center at the encouragement and motivation of Fr. Cyril. The Holy Cross Orthodox Study Center was established by Fr. Cyril and myself, Fr. Joseph, in 2006. He started to visit the study center every week to read books about the Orthodox faith and its history. He actively participated in discussion sessions.

Sanawar Mark, about himself

I spent my whole childhood and teenage years participating in Church activities. I read the Holy Bible; Christian values were taught me by my parents and teachers. I know the right way to live with Christian values, and I am well aware of how to protect my Christian faith in Pakistan. I was a normal child like others—naughty, sometimes stubborn—but I remained obedient to my parents. I grew up in an Islamic society surrounded by Muslims. Because of my family’s strong relationship with Christ, I remained steadfast to my Christian faith.
Many times I was misled by my Muslim friends in college and university, as they are strongly taught to convert non-Muslims to Islam, but the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ always gave strength to me.    

Study of the Orthodox Faith

As I earned my Master’s degree in Information Technology and have good job in a private organization, I do not worry about money. I have a very loving family. I have a relationship with God through reading the Holy Bible, attending the Church services, and my personal prayers. When I was studying in the university, my life began to change immediately. I was reading the life of St. Sergius of Radonezh and his simple and ascetic life brought about a turning point in my life and faith. I was impressed by how he spent many years in the forest alone as a hermit, and when Metropolitan Alexius asked him to become his successor, he refused, preferring to remain a simple monk. After that, my curiosity increased and I started to read more and more about the Orthodox Faith. Being a software engineer, I made a careful study through different sources on the internet about the Orthodox faith before accepting it. The holy life of St. Sergius inspired me greatly to embrace the Orthodox Faith.

Current Situation in Pakistan

As I said, I grew up in the United Presbyterian Church, and I studied in a Catholic school. I can honestly say that the faith in which I was raised helped me to remain strong in my Christian faith in this Islamic State of Pakistan. Because the Muslim school of thought has created many false stories about our faith and about the Son of God, Jesus Christ. They also declare that Islam is a complete religion in the world. We never argue with them because of the strict Islamic laws in the country. Many Christians are killed by Muslim extremists and are behind bars because they defend their faith. If we argue with the Muslims they say that the Christians have spoken against Islam and His Prophet, and they make false legal cases under section 295-C (the blasphemy act).
The Cross here represents the hope and strength of the Suffering Christian Minority in Pakistan.
I believe that the Cross of Christ is always the source of strength, hope and victory for the oppressed and suffering Christian minority in Pakistan. It is my personal experience that whenever our faithful see the Cross, they find glory in the power of the Cross. They repeat the prayer of Cross with trust and feel comfort, and are spiritually healed. They rejoice in their sufferings.  

Embracing of Orthodox Faith

My study and weekly visit to “The Holy Cross Study Center in Sargodha” made a tremendous change in my life, and I felt that I needed a true faith; therefore I continued reading the Orthodox literature. A miracle happened in my life: whenever I looked at the icon of Jesus on the wall of the Holy Cross Orthodox Study Center, I noticed that Christ speaks to me personally. So I realized that He is calling me to live the true faith that was handed over by Christ to His Holy Apostles. Finally I made a decision. I said “Yes” to Christ our Lord and true God.
I really admire the cooperation and help of Fr. Joseph and Fr. Cyril for understanding the Orthodox faith in the true manner. In the beginning, when Fr. Joseph and Fr. Cyril were conducting lay service on Sundays and Vespers on feast days, I used to listen to the sermons and history of the Russian Orthodox Church delivered by Fr. Joseph, it greatly inspired me. On the first visit of Rev. Fr. Adrian, Dean of St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Mission in Pakistan, I was Baptized and chrismated by him. After Baptism and Chrismation, my life was transformed. On the very next day I participated in the Divine Liturgy, with fasting and confession that day, I experienced in practice what I had learned and studied about Orthodoxy.  
          I always pray for the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia established in Pakistan. I am thankful to His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, Archbishop of Eastern America and New York and First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, for Rev. Fr. Adrian, Dean of St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Mission in Pakistan, and the Russian Orthodox Clergy in Pakistan for providing a chance for the faithful to live under the protection of true Church, and to practice and follow the traditions of Mother Church—for the Divine Liturgy is foundation of Orthodox Church.
Let us be encouraged that our God invites us to open the way of progress, development and fruitfulness for this Holy Russian Orthodox in Pakistan. I am thankful to the local clergy in Pakistan who have made efforts to provide us with prayer books and other Orthodox literature translated into our native language; it is a great source for the faithful to grow spiritually.
  I am thankful to Fr. Joseph for aiding me in composing my story of faith for the local and international readers. I am thankful to him for blessing me and my family. I am proud of my Orthodox faith.
Finally, I say, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
For queries about the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in Pakistan, kindly

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