Ashfaq Masih, a 34-year-old motorbike repairman, has been sentenced to death by a court in Lahore for blasphemy. Masih was originally arrested in 2017 after engaging in a verbal altercation with a customer who requested his bill be waived on religious grounds. Despite Masih’s refusal to waive the bill, stating his belief in Jesus Christ, the customer insisted on being treated as a “poor sadhu” and refused to pay the full amount. Masih allegedly claimed that “Jesus is the true prophet,” which was deemed an insult to the Prophet Muhammad, leading to the guilty verdict.
Despite his statements being a simple expression of his religious beliefs, Masih was found guilty of blasphemy and has been fighting for his life for the past five years. During this time, his hearings have been repeatedly postponed or cancelled, causing immense emotional turmoil for him and his family. In 2019, he was allowed to attend his mother’s funeral, but remained handcuffed during the service.
In 2022, Judge Khalid Wazir sentenced Masih to death, leaving his family devastated and in dire need of prayers and support. Masih is a husband and father, and his death would be a tremendous loss to his loved ones.
The plight of Ashfaq Masih and other persecuted Christians around the world highlights the need for continued prayer and advocacy. As Christians, we are called to love and support our brothers and sisters who are persecuted for their faith, and to trust in the promises of Jesus Christ, who said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10). We must stand in solidarity with those who are suffering, and work towards a world where religious freedom is respected and upheld for all.