The late Steve Snyder of International Christian Concern first introduced me to Shahbaz Bhatti, the leader of All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) in the earlier part of the
21st Century. Shahbaz helped Christians and other non-Muslim people advocate for human rights in Pakistan. My work was to write stories on what God was doing in Pakistan.
I’ll never forget the afternoon when Shahbaz returned from a high level meeting with our government in Washington, DC. He was staying with my friends nearby and I was there to greet him after his trip so we could do media interviews.
Shahbaz walked in the door and exclaimed, “Sister Hope, I can’t believe
what I saw!”
For a man who just came from a meeting of great political importance (just Google his name and you can see for yourself), he was so childlike in his exuberance that I smiled. “Tell me, what did you see?”
He said, “I walk on the street in your capitol and I see a man with a cross around his neck! I can’t believe! I run to him and hug his neck and I tell him, ‘You are a Christian! My
Brother! You know, in my country you cannot do this?’”
At this point I was laughing. I pictured this Pakistani man with the big moustache hugging an American stranger on the streets of DC who, frankly, may or may not have been a
To Shahbaz, the freedom to display the cross openly was a big deal. In fact, he wanted nothing more than to see this type of freedom of religion in his own nation. When he came to visit the United States every couple of years, it usually took him a little more than a week to stop looking behind him as he traveled place to place in America. He was used to fielding verbal threats and even real bullets from the Taliban and Al Qaeda when living in his home in Pakistan.
The last week of July 2011, I spoke–well, I preached–on the importance of displaying the cross at the Montrose Christian Writers Conference in Montrose, Pennsylvania. (This Wednesday I’ll speak on the cross at the Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference 7:30 at the PBU Philadelphia Biblical University campus) We gave our Father God time to speak to our hearts–“Father, where would you like me to display your cross?”
Afterward writers came up to me and many already knew where they would display the cross in their home or neighborhood. What about you? Is the cross displayed somewhere in your home or local area? Please leave a comment and tell us where! Let’s encourage one another to display the cross!