Pakistan #4 - Gujranwala Theological Seminary
by Richard Paddon and Rob Weingartner
Tonight is our last full night in Lahore. We depart at 3:35 am Thursday and, of course, must be at the airport two hours earlier! Each night since arriving at 2 am Wednesday, September 13, we have been overnight guests at Church House adjacent to the Naulakha Church where Rob preached. Half of the first floor is the home of Pastor Majid and his wife Hani and separate from the rest of the house. We have enjoyed simple breakfasts prepared in the house kitchen and served in the adjacent dining room. The living room beyond is available for informal gatherings of pastors or other meetings. The adjacent photo shows the two people, Nargis and Asid, who have looked after us with love and care throughout our stay. Both buildings are on a walled compound of about 15 acres. The sounds of city traffic – lots of auto horns! – continue through the night, yet we have always slept well because our second floor room is on the side away from the street.
This morning we drove almost two hours north to the much smaller city of Gujranwala, the location since 1912 of the Presbyterian Seminary that was established by missionaries of the United Presbyterian Church of North America in 1877. Students come from Presbyterian and several more denominations with 88 enrolled this fall, including 20 women and the largest entering class ever.
It was good to see the improvements made on the men’s hostel with funds that Outreach sent after our visit in May 2017. And two married student apartments that were simply unusable have been reclaimed and restored with funds from First Presbyterian Church, Houston. We had a roundtable conversation with a number of the students, and they expressed appreciation for the faculty and the opportunity to study. Although the Presbyterians have been ordaining women as elders and pastors, there are still not opportunities for women in pastoral ministry.
We concluded our seminary visit with dinner with the faculty at Vice-Principal Maqsood Kamil and his wife Ruby’s home on the seminary compound. The faculty are clearly dedicated, even though the financial challenges that the school faces means that they don’t get paid some months. That needs to change. Outreach is part of an effort to form a Friends of Gujranwala Network to broaden the prayer and financial support for this important institution.
Next week, after we are back home, the famous Sialkot Mission Conference will take place. An annual gathering that began in 1904, the convention brings together thousands of Pakistani believers for worship, prayer and mutual encouragement.
Richard and Rob