The Bakhsh family are beloved children of God and beloved members of our congregation, in Possilpark Parish Church, Glasgow. They came to us just over six years ago from Pakistan, seeking asylum from the threat of death in their home city, Faisalabad.
Mr Bakhsh, was accused of being a close associate of two Christian men who had been arrested for printing pamphlets that were considered blasphemous. The two men were murdered on the steps of the Court House in the Police custody. Thankfully, Mr Bakhsh was elsewhere in the country at this time but his wife, Parveen, and their two sons, Somer and Areeb, were in the family home when the police arrived and threw tear gas grenades into their home.
Parveen and the boys were moved to the Bakhsh family home and dad had to run from place to place, hiding repeatedly and moving repeatedly until they realised this was no way to live. The family decided their only option was to flee Pakistan completely and made their way to the UK where they sought asylum.
Since coming to Possilpark the family have immersed themselves in our congregation. They belong to us and we belong to them, that’s what the Body of Christ is about. Each member of the family is fully involved in all aspects of our life and work. Among other servant responsibilities, Mr Bakhsh is an elder in our congregation and was a commissioner at the general assembly in 2017 and he continues to represent our congregation as an elder in the Presbytery.
Currently, the family have exhausted all avenues open to them regarding leave to remain in the UK. Last year the solicitor made an application for asylum in the names of Somer and Areeb, on the grounds that their human rights would be violated if they were forcibly returned to Pakistan. This application was rejected with a very technical legal ruling meaning that an appeal is forbidden.
At this point in time, the solicitor has applied for legal aid so that the services of an advocate may be engaged to challenge the technical legal ruling. The hope is that if this challenge is successful the boys will be permitted to appeal the ruling in the High Court in Glasgow.
The publicity campaign was entered into reluctantly because the family are private, Maqsood is still a target for Islamic extremists and the boys feel safe here in Scotland. The thought of having to go back to a country they know nothing about is unthinkable.
Parveen's pastoral sensitivity is a joy to behold and people flock to her with their requests for prayer. Somer is a young man with a gentle and inquisitive heart for God. He serves on a national committee of our denomination, considering new ways to engage youth in our congregations. Areeb has written a beautiful prayer that was published for the Church of Scotland’s, Year of Young People. Both boys accompany the singing in church and play solos on special occasions. They lead the congregation with prayers and readings and Somer preached last year. Mr Bakhsh also leads in worship through preaching and liturgical responsibilities.
Parveen is a neo-natal nurse/midwife with 17 years of experience and Maqsood is a data analyst with two Masters’ Degrees. They have so much to offer our country and community as good, productive citizens and as Followers of Christ Jesus, they have so much more to share.
Our dear brothers and sister need as much prayer support as we can possibly give them, isn’t our God the one for whom nothing is impossible? Let us pray, let us, by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, be part of the transformation so desperately needed for this family of faithful Christians.
In addition to prayer please write to the Home Office, to the Home Secretary, to our local MP, Mr Paul Sweeney, who has been very supportive.
The family are feeling the pressure, but they are aware of God’s nearness offering them courage and hope. Thank you for standing with Maqsood, Parveen, Somer and Areeb.
Rev Linda Pollock is minister at Possilpark Parish Church