THE DEATH OF A FRIENDLY BISHOP Bishop Kher-ud-Din<br>By Dr. Stephen Gill


There was some mystical significance in the look of Bishop Kher-ud-Din when I saw him for the first and the last time in England. I find it hard to erase the look from the slate of my mind. It happened when I was in England in the month of September

I met Abbey Samuel, a God-fearing and helpful Christian through a stroke of luck. She advised me to see Dr. Naseem Dean and Bishop Kher-ud-Din for my search to be fruitful. I had heard the name of Bishop Kher-ud-Din favorably from several persons. I expected to hear his name favorably often again. I was not able to see him that day, because he lived at Oxford, which was quite far. I was however happy to see a door of hope for my research.

The next day over the phone Dr. Dean also mentioned Bishop Kher-ud-Din, offering to drive me to visit him in his son's car. By that time it had become obvious that I was going to meet a bishop who was popular and must be kind, friendly and knowledgeable. He must have qualities to be able to dwell in the hearts of Panjabi Christians from India and Pakistan. I was told that he writes in Urdu as well as in English.

When I met him the next day, Dr. Dean looked more like a poet than anything else. He assured me that he will put me in touch with a few Christian writers among whom is Dr. Falak Sher, editor of the Asian Focus. He talked mostly about the injustice to Christians in Pakistan. He showed me a video of a fairly long demonstration that he arranged in England in an organized way in which most of the Christian organizations, including Indo-Pak churches, had participated to protest the blasphemy laws.

I appreciated the courage of Dr. Dean at the properly represented press conference held toward the end of the demonstration. He confidently briefed the media that the blasphemy laws should be repelled because the were misused. Shortly, we were joined by Rev. Ibrahim Inis Bruce, another Christian from Pakistan, who supported Dr. Dean concerning the life of fear of the Christians in Pakistan. As our talk was growing increasingly interesting, the son of Dr. Dean entered the room to drive us to Oxford.

In the car, I had a chance to share more with Rev. Bruce because he sat next to me at the back seat. He told me that one fine morning they came to know that all the mission schools no longer belonged to them- they were owned by the Islamic nation of Pakistan. He arranged a peaceful demonstration against that wrong for which he was imprisoned and lashed by the jail authorities in the town where he was born. He said, "the brutality has proved only the crudeness of the authority." " Why they do not believe in the deeds of mercy. What do you think?" I asked? Rev. Bruce became silent, looking out the window toward the empty horizon. As I was going to add something, the car halted in front of a small bungalow. We went into the living room, where a woman was arranging snacks on a table.

Polite, tall, medium built the British woman who quietly set the table appeared to be a blend of a helper and wife, a lady in every sense. I asked Dr. Dean if she could be the wife of the Bishop. He also did not know. When the lady returned, I took the courage to ask, "If you don't mind may I ask if you are the wife of the Bishop or ..." Before I could complete my sentence, she replied smilingly, "yes, I am. He will be here soon." She left after her work.

The bishop, a model of humility, of medium height, had everything to make anyone's visit comfortable. He often quoted Urdu poets to embellish the conversation, while serving tea. He spoke like a scholar and at the same time appeared to be a student of human nature. Without beating about the bush, he asked if there was anything that he could do for me?

I asked if he knew sources to have a collection of my Urdu poems published. Before he could suggest any, Rev. Bruce offered to take responsibility as he had in the car. The Bishop also asked me about my stay which Dr. Dean clarified had been taken care of.

Most of the time, our talk revolved around the blasphemy laws and their impact on the Christians of Pakistan. There was hardly ever a reference to his own problems. It was obvious that he had given his life for others. He wanted to buy my two books, but I was happy to give them as a gift.

We came out of the house together, promising to keep in touch. Before we entered the car, the bishop asked us to remember him in our prayers for his health. He looked at me when I wished him well. I don't know what it was but there was some meaning- some mystical significance in that look of the former Bishop of Peshawar, Pakistan. He passed away on 17th of January of 1997 in Oxford, England, about four months after that.

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