PAKISTAN — Journey into the heart of Pakistan’s brick kilns, where resilient Christians labor under the harsh sun and the heavy yoke of modern slavery in the form of bonded servitude. This is more than a look into the world of brick-making, it’s a glimpse into the lives and faith of our brothers and sisters in Christ who persevere in the face of systemic persecution.
The air surrounding the brick kilns of Pakistan is thick, hot, and full of dust. Endless walls of rustic bricks draw your gaze upwards to the towering kiln, belching smoke up into the clear sky. Brave men stand atop the kiln, stoking the fiery beast, wooden shoes strapped to their feet because rubber doesn’t stand a chance against the heat of the furnace in a Pakistani summer.
My name is Brian, and I’m here to see what life is really like for Christians in Pakistan. I didn’t come here to gawk or point fingers, but to sit down, break bread, and hear their stories over a cup of tea. I’m here to learn about their lives, their resilient faith, and how we, from our corners of the world, can extend our hand in our prayers. This is about understanding, empathy, and connection. This is about being human. Azib, who’s been working in the kilns for over 20 years, invited us into his home for tea.
My daughters really love to have guests. The tea is here! I will be very happy for our brother to have tea with us. We are 12 people living here. This is my room. We keep a cow over here. My younger son calls her Rano while milking her. My hope is only in God. I know Jesus can help us. Whenever my friends are here for us, I have hope for the future.
There’s a fascinating rhythm beyond the kiln and the flats where whole families are engaged in an almost musical assembly line. It starts with the production of mud, transported via shoddy wheelbarrows, and then to the brickmakers, these stoic artists shaping the landscape of their country. Grab mud, slap it in the mold, layer on top, press, seal the edges, flip, and repeat. Lines of freshly minted bricks bake in the blistering sun, awaiting their destiny.
This is the everyday for these hardy souls, the brick kiln workers, many who are persecuted Christians in Pakistan. Up at 4 a.m., their daily grind involves crafting anything from 1,500 to 2,500 bricks as a family. Every brick, a testament to their tenacity. And yet, there’s another layer to this story.
These families are ensnared in bonded slavery, laboring under colossal debts that will haunt them for generations. The cycle is brutal, often started by loan sharks posing as benefactors in times of medical emergencies, weddings, or just to put food on the table. It’s a debt they carry generation after generation. They’re the property of the brick kiln until grace intervenes.
Can I ask you how important your faith in Jesus is to you?
My whole body believes in Jesus. I keep my hope in God. I keep my belief in God. I don’t get disappointed with how God is working in my life situation. I just say that God is with me and He will help me. All the Christians who live in America are like my family: My daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, and mothers. I pray for all of them, that God may bless them. Keep your faith in God. Keep your hope in God.
We are no different. We’re all one in Christ. We wanna encourage each other.
We are one! Definitely we are one!
After leaving Pakistan, Azib’s story stayed with me. Azib had such a grateful heart despite his persecution and his faith was an inspiration. I knew that with the support of Christians in the US, we could make a difference for our persecuted family in Pakistan.
With the help of generous supporters, I returned to the brick kilns of Pakistan three months later with a check from Global Christian Relief to pay off Azib’s debt and the debts of several other families. Now, these families are free from generational slavery in the kilns grasp.
It was an incredibly precious moment to sit in his bedroom, to hear his story. And he was telling us that he could not get to sleep last night because of how excited he was. And he’s just so thankful for this gift that was given to him, and so thankful that he doesn’t understand all of God’s purposes, but that he knows God cares deeply for him because of your gift.
I would like to say to them, may the Lord Jesus Christ bless them.
Our prayer is for you that you are able to stay out of debt and to work and get a fair wage and we pray the same for your daughters and for your sons.
At GCR, we have a vision to change the story for Christians in Pakistan. We wanna see stereotypes broken and an end to discrimination. Through education, relief, training, and a vision to release hundreds of Christian families from bonded slavery, we want to see the church thrive. You can help make this a reality. Help us change the future for believers like Azib.
- Global News Alliance, Inside Modern Slavery: The Christian Brick Kiln Workers of Pakistan
- Global Christian Relief, Official Website