(Original article, written by Christine Jeske, to be found here)
Today Adam and I and many others are mourning the loss of a great friend and a great man. His passing won’t make the news, but he was one of the most humble, fearless, prayerful, and dedicated people I have ever met.
When we lived in South Africa, we had the privilege of working at a seminary with students and staff from over a dozen African countries. Among our neighbors and colleagues were families from D.R. Congo, Burundi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique… and Pakistan.
That’s right, Pakistan. In case you’re scrambling to remember your geography, let me confirm, Pakistan is most definitely not in Africa.
Naveed Iqbal, a man who came to be a good friend of ours, was there in South Africa completing a master’s degree in theology in order to return to his country as a pastor and church-planter. The Pakistani government regulations allowed people who have a master’s level of theology training to officially register as church leaders. Naveed would return home to serve in a country over 98% Muslim.
Naveed was well aware of the risks involved in his vocation. His father, a long-time church planter and pastor, had been beaten and imprisoned, and he often shared news from his region in Pakistan on Facebook.
Naveed himself had learned to face death unafraid as he suffered from hemophilia. All his life he spent frequent days and weeks in hospitals and often walked on painfully swollen legs. Often a simple greeting and, “How are you?” over tea time at the seminary would elicit a reply like, “Praise God, I have been in the hospital these last five days, but I am secure and well in the Lord!”
In 2011, Naveed returned to Pakistan. He shared with us and others around the world his goals for life there. Here are some of his words describing what he dedicated his life’s work to accomplish:
- I will begin by planting a church, yet the ministry will also seek to meet following objectives in order to enhance Christianity and improve people’s life in Pakistan:
- To establishing a grass-root leaders Bible and vocational school with focus on: Evangelism, discipleship, missions, leadership and biblical hermeneutics,
- Church planting movement (self-sustainable and self- propagating).
- To establishing a Christian primary school to educate free of charge (with priority to orphans).
- To establishing a sewing centre to take care of widows and orphans,
- To help believers in the church to establish their own small businesses and entrepreneurship scheme.
- To establish a church in 20 years to come in each village and in each city of Pakistan.
I love how he tags on that last one. No settling for small plans here!
His letter also included this sentence:
May God bless you richly in Christ as you pray for me and the completion of the vision that God has entrusted me with for Pakistan.
Naveed passed away yesterday. He was only about 30 years old. He will be greatly missed. For all you praying types out there, I encourage you to pick up where his journey ended, praying for the completion of his vision.
We as the Evangelical Seminary of Southern Africa mourn his passing and are with his family in Pakistan in Spirit. Although I personally hardly got to know Naveed I feel like I am missing some basic element of the Seminary already. Naveed stayed on Campus while pursuing his Masters degree in a distance education institution. Hence I often saw him on campus, at tea, in chapel, and all sorts of occasions. No more. He went to be with our Fateher in Heaven. He has run the race and fought the good fight. He has kept his faith and now he will finally see what he has proclaimed and chose as the foundation for his life.