Pakistan (MNN) – It’s been just over a year since the blasphemy trial for Ahmed, a strategic Gospel worker in Pakistan, was put into motion. Ahmed was cleared of the blasphemy charges, but two fatwas — Islamic religious edicts demanding Ahmed’s death — are still in place. Some Pakistanis are set on fulfilling them. Ahmed is free and legally in the clear, but the fatwas put him in perpetual danger.
Ahmed is careful to avoid being recognized in public. He varies his routine and moves homes regularly to keep safe. For his family of four, with two school-aged children, this is difficult.
Ahmed Seeks U.S. Visa
FMI is working with the United States State Department to temporarily bring Ahmed and his family to the U.S. The goal is to get Ahmed’s family to safety while also retaining his freedom to travel to and from Pakistan.
“The type of visa that we’re looking to get for him is called an R1 visa, which is a religious workers visa. So, he would be part of the FMI U.S. staff…He would also still be able to go back and forth discreetly into Pakistan while his family would remain here in safety in the U.S.,” FMI’s Bruce Allen explains.
Unfortunately, a visa related to asylum would take many years to attain, but it would allow Ahmed to travel and speak at various events, banquets, and churches in the U.S. People could hear Ahmed’s story first-hand and learn more about God’s work in Pakistan. However, FMI needs to raise $ 40,000 to bring Ahmed to the U.S.
“We still have that Project Advocacy account set up and it’s there on our website that people could donate specifically to that account. The way those funds are being used right now is to help with the legal expenses that he still has from the court case in Pakistan,” Allen says.
There are also the costs for filling the visa application and the immigration lawyer processing it. In Pakistan, $ 120 can do a lot, but $ 120 in the U.S. will not even supply groceries for a month with a family of four. If Ahmed brings his family’s savings and sells their belongings, the revenue will not be enough stateside.
Once his family does arrive in the United States, they will need a home to rent, groceries, clothes, a method of transportation, kitchen supplies, mattresses, and much more. Ahmed and his family will essentially be starting from scratch.
No Visa Plans
Ahmed’s heart is for Pakistan. On many occasions, Ahmed has told Allen that his grave is in Pakistan. He wants other Pakistanis to know Christ, despite the personal cost. Moving Ahmed and his family the U.S. for a handful of years would give his trackers time to settle down and stop looking for him. It would also ensure his family’s safety while the people who want Ahmed dead find something else to focus on.
“Ahmed has been such a strategic and influential partner in Pakistan. We want to keep him in ministry as much as possible, share his story with as many audiences as possible so that the ministry in Pakistan can keep flourishing,” Allen shares.
If Ahmed and his family are unable to obtain a visa to live in the U.S., then Ahmed would remain in Pakistan but still try to find a safe home for his family, possibly in a neighboring country.
“The school where Ahmed and Amir’s children attend in recent weeks, there was a terrorist threat against them and they had to have the SWAT teams come in and snipers on the roofs and things like that and that just agitated the spirits of mom and dad going, ‘ugh, there is no safe place’. They just need to be refreshed because that constant vigilance is very waring. We pray for their refreshment,” Allen says.
Please, pray for Ahmed and his family, FMI, and the visa process. Pray for Ahmed’s family’s encouragement, strength, faith, courage, creativity, and perseverance in the face of these challenges. Intercede on Ahmed’s behalf for the visa process through prayer. Pray the funds would come in to pay for Ahmed’s legal fees, the process of coming to the U.S., and his family’s start-up needs once they arrive.
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Header photo courtesy of FMI.