34-year-old Ashfaq Masih was sentenced to death by a court in Lahore for blasphemy.
Originally arrested in 2017, Masih engaged in a verbal confrontation with a customer at his motorbike repair shop who requested his bill be waived on the grounds that he was a religious devotee. Masih refused to waive the bill, stating he believed in Jesus Christ.
“When Ashfaq asked for payment he refused to pay the full amount, saying he was a poor sadhu (religious devotee) and that Ashfaq should honour him.”
“Jesus is the true prophet” Masih allegedly claimed, leading to the “guilty” verdict of insulting the prophet Mohammad.
The statement “I follow only Jesus” was constructed as “I refuse to follow Prophet Muhammad” and qualified as blasphemy. The Session Court agreed.
Over the course of five years, Masih’s hearings have been repeatedly moved or cancelled. In 2019, due to his mother’s passing, he was allowed to attend her funeral. In an image shared on twitter, Masih embraced his family while still in handcuffs.
Later in 2022, Masih, a husband and father, was sentenced to death by Judge Khalid Wazir.
Prayers for Ashfaq Masih, his family, and other persecuted Christians across the world are pivotal right now as he contends for an overturn in the verdict.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12).
Ashfaq and his family need our prayers. We will be praying for the Lord to strengthen him to remain faithful and for his release from this unjustified sentence.