Christian evangelist welcomed in Muslim dominated Pakistan

Christian evangelist welcomed in Muslim dominated Pakistan

By Kyle Patterson

At 86 years old, Marilyn Hickey has been traveling the speaking circuit for years, sharing the message of the gospel in Jesus Christ. But perhaps no other Christian evangelist in history has been embraced and celebrated in Muslim dominated Pakistan, and it’s not because she has compromised her message, according to a documentary report produced by CBS News.

CBS Sportscaster and on-air personality James Brown joined Hickey in Lahore, Pakistan for "CBSN: On Assignment,” and followed her meeting with the largest Imam (Muslim leader) in the country, having tea at his house and talking of the blessing that she is bringing to the Muslim nation.

These people are very open and very hungry. I love Muslims and Muslims love me,” said Hickey in the interview.

But she refuses to compromise her message of “transformation” through Jesus, a word she uses rather than “conversion,” a word that can have negative cultural meaning, and lead to isolation and even persecution in a Muslim dominated country.

When asked by Brown, why Hickey believes she is so accepted in Muslim countries, Hickey says, “I think it’s a God thing, years ago I started praying over every country in the world, every day. When I would get to the Muslim nations, I would have such a warm feeling,” recalled Hickey in the interview with Brown.

Now in her 8th trip, Brown joined her for an exclusive behind the scenes look at the ministry to the Muslims and just how Hickey manages to do it.

“I don’t want to draw attention to myself. I want to look very simple, very harmless, here’s some lady, she’s stupid, she’s a woman, she’s old, what can she do? And you get to do everything.”

I have faith in God to protect me, if he called me there, he’ll have to take care of me, and he does, he does,” relates Hickey.

Pastor Anwar Fazal, the pastor of the largest Christian church in Pakistan, with an estimated 30,000 in attendance weekly hosted Hickey on her 8th visit. Fazal was impacted by Hickey’s first visit to the country in 1995 and now says he owes his success in ministry to Hickey because he came to Christ through her first outreach there. Through Hickey’s gospel message and her encouragement that God has given every person a gift, he decided to pursue the ministry and according to James’ report, he found his gift. He founded the church in 2000 and launched a Christian television network in 2006, the first of its kind in Pakistan reaching 200 nations out of Pakistan.

Hickey told Brown, that people thought she was crazy for going to Pakistan, but now they are seeing the impact and fruit of her efforts and the success God gave her. Though the U.S. still has a travel advisory in effect in the country and it was where Osama Bin Laden was found and killed in 2011, Hickey says God has called her to the nation.

“The third time I came to Pakistan, 31 suicide bomber took an oath to kill me,” recalled Hickey to Brown. “They caught 14 or 17 of them, but I was afraid they would show up at the meeting and shot me, but I just had to trust God.”

Brown called her an unofficial ambassador to Muslim countries and one that has found a “kindred spirit” with the Grand Imam of Lahore, one of the most powerful leaders in the Muslim world.  They shared tea at his home, and they believe Hickey’s visit was a source of blessing for the whole country.

“The politicians are coming with their own programs, their own agendas, but when it comes to the religious leader, when it comes to the mom, she brings love for the people of Pakistan, so I understand and am convinced as a religious that her love and her wizard is more effective than other people,” the Grand Imam of Lahore told Brown in live interview in Pakistan through a translator.

She is building bridges, but is not overtly coming with a message of conversion, because as Hickey told Brown, that’s a dangerous word. “If I say I came in to convert you to Christianity...I don’t come in to convert, I come in and believe for transformation. When they receive Jesus they are transformed on the inside, that’s his business, my business is to give the truth,” said Hickey.

It’s a strategy that allows her to reach a nation where just last year 70 Christians were killed by a suicide bomber and where 98% of the population professes the Muslim faith.

“The message I first bring is healing, because healing is the bread of the children. I am telling you it doesn’t matter what they are, Hindus, atheists, Muslims, people need healing and Jesus heals.”

Photo: Marilyn Hickey (second from left) receives an award for her work toward peace in Pakistan. 

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