Bibles to help free Pakistani youth from slavery

Anglican Aid is celebrating Bible Society’s Bicentenary by donating 150 Urdu Bibles to youth attending Miracle Schools in Pakistan, which are helping to free the poorest Christians from intergenerational slavery.

The charity said it was making the donation to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the oldest continually operating organisation in Australia, predating the Bank of NSW (now Westpac) by a month.

The donation fulfils a request made during a visit last week by Angela Michael, co-founder of Miracle Ministries in Pakistan, an Anglican Aid partner that supports needy children and their families in Pakistan, through the Exodus 5 Project.

“We do not want to provide education without faith. That is like putting books on a donkey.” – Angela Michael

One of the Miracle Schools is on the Lahore brick kilns, where a Christian couple were burned alive in 2014. It educates children of bonded slaves who are Christians. Another school in the city provides free education to 400 orphans or disadvantaged children with free education.

While visiting Australian schools, Michael emphasised the importance of bringing the good news of Jesus to this group of poor cultural Christians.

“We do not want to provide education without faith. That is like putting books on a donkey. We want these poor cultural Christians to come to know Christ.”

Anglican Aid will buy the 150 Urdu Bibles from Pakistan Bible Society and they will be presented to the youth group as part of school Easter celebrations.

“Education is a means of getting them out of slavery.” Eddie Ozols

“We thought it’s a small gift in relative terms – less than $1500 to get a Bible into the hands of these kids who will be first to read in their families, let alone own a Bible,” said Anglican Aid’s Eddie Ozols.

“As most families earn less than $US3 a day, it is likely they will never be able to purchase their own Bibles otherwise. Even if they could afford it, the families on those brick kilns are generally illiterate.

“Children at the brick kilns follow their families into slavery. So, education is a means of getting them out of slavery because kids will become aware of their rights when they can read and advocate for themselves rather than follow their parents into slavery.”

Hundreds of thousands of Pakistani children are bonded labourers at brick kilns, working 14 hours a day for a pittance because they are trapped by family debts that are often impossible to pay off.

Michael tells a story of a boy, the youngest in his family, who was allowed to attend Miracle School. After graduating he won a scholarship to attend college and became an engineer. He was then able to free his family from slavery,

“It’s focused on children because that will help them understand their rights. People have no idea they’re being ripped off. The pay rate is $US8.25 a day, but they only get $US3 after interest is taken into account from a fixed interest loan,” explained Ozols.

The three children of a couple who were burnt inside the brick kiln in 2014 are being cared for by Miracles Ministries.