2 March 2020
You're probably familiar with Asia Bibi's story - that she was convicted under Pakistan's harsh blasphemy laws in 2010, and was given a death sentence. She spent many years in jail. Her appeal hearing was frequently delayed – but she was finally freed on 31 October 2018, and left Pakistan the following year. She and her family suffered a great deal during this period, and more than one person was murdered for standing up for Asia.
Asia met with the Open Doors team in Paris on Friday 28 February, where they spoke to her about her experiences, her faith and her message for those who've supported and prayed for her.
Asia Bibi meets members of the Open Doors team in France. She was given an Urdu Bible, a card and a shawl made by women from the persecuted church
How did your time in prison change your faith?
My faith has always been strong because my family had a lot of devotion, but it did get stronger because now I know that God is with me – and God doesn’t leave you alone, He is always with us.
How is it possible to endure such difficulties in prison and not doubt God’s existence?
I never doubted, because when I was born, the priest told my mother, “This girl is going to be tested by God.” And my parents kept telling me this story and I knew that this was going to happen someday.
Did you realise you were a symbol of hope and faith while you were in prison?
I had a lot of patience and hope in my heart while I was in prison. And I was certain I would be released one day because I was innocent. I knew that someday I was going to be free. When my father came to visit me, he said that I’ve been accused in the name of Jesus – and I told him I would also be released in the name of Jesus.
Asia Bibi speaks at a press conference in France
How did you feel when you heard that extremists assassinated a government official who supported your case?
I had very deep pain. I really cried because he was innocent. Whenever I think of him, I have tears in my eyes. I have a lot of pain in my heart. But I also have the feeling that he is alive because anyone who dies for his faith is always alive – he never dies.
Do you hope to live anonymously in the future?
I’m free, but I do need security. I’m sure you understand. My wish in my life is that my children will have an education. Their education has suffered a lot.
Do you have a message for those who’ve prayed for you while you were in prison?
Yes, I have a message for them. God is with you in the exact way He was with me. You are in God’s hands and you are vital.
After the interview concluded, the Open Doors team gave Asia an Urdu Bible, a shawl made by women from the persecuted church and a card. They'd been waiting five years to send the card.
"For me?" she says, delighted to receive the gifts. "I'm very happy to meet you."
Please keep praying for Asia Bibi and her family, as they heal from the trauma of the past decade and start building a new life in Canada. Thank you for your persistent prayer for this courageous woman over many years. And please keep praying that Pakistan's blasphemy laws would be made fairer and that Christians wouldn't be targeted.