This article was originally published in the March 2023 edition of ITMI Monthly.
"The 16-year-old sat motionless, wrapped in a shawl. She barely moved a muscle the entire visit."
When ITMI’s Steve Evers and Abid, the believer he was visiting in Pakistan, arrived at the brick-making site, he heard a call ring out.
The children who were in the mud field, obviously laboring to make bricks, quickly dropped what they were doing and ran off in response to what seemed to be a pre-arranged signal intended to hide child-labor practices when the visitors arrived.
Some children Steve encountered at the brick-making compound.
Steve and Abid made their way to the nearby compound where the workers’ families live. Abid led them to a specific family’s space.
Two young women were inside the brick walls of the compound. The younger one, the 16-year-old, sat motionless on the low woven cot, commonly used as furniture in this part of the world. She was wrapped in a shawl and barely moved a muscle.
Inside the Chrisitan family's home near the mud field.
Her liver was struggling as a complication of some illness she’d had - her family thought yellow fever or typhoid. The crucial organ was losing its battle to remove bilirubins from her blood and had fallen behind.
It was later discovered that her bilirubin count was eight times higher than it should have been. She hadn’t been able to eat solid food, probably for months.
Her older sister was doing her best to relieve her discomfort, but she had suffered the loss of her sight years ago as a child and was limited in her ability to do so.
Steve and the oldest sister in the family, who lost her sight years ago as a child.
Their father, who had lost his wife to illness, works long days squatting with his hands in the mud to churn out bricks for meager wages.
He has no choice but to keep doing this. He is indebted to the man he works for, who was all too happy to lend him money, probably for some emergency in the past, and probably at an exorbitant interest rate.
These modern-day “slaves” tell a story from another brick-making compound, somewhere north of where Steve and Abid visited. The owner was angered by the non-payment of debt from one of his workers, so he had them thrown into an active kiln.
There were no repercussions for the master’s actions, and this story is always simmering in the background of the workers’ minds.
When Abid approached, her father didn’t move or look up from where he squatted. He deftly filled the mold with mud, swiped across the top with his hand to flatten it, then flipped the mold over and removed it from the newly-made pre-fired brick.
Each brick took 8-10 seconds to emerge from the mold, ready to be dried in the sun and then cooked in a kiln.
Without looking up, he gave his resigned, emotionally-shut-down answer to Abid’s question about his daughter’s health. He admitted that he had to choose between the rest of the family eating or buying the life-saving medicine she needed.
Her father (in the blue shirt) works as a brick-maker.
So, each day, her health became a little worse, and this Christian family was watching her slip away. This had been going on for about four months.
When Steve learned the testing and medicine that would save this girl’s life could be obtained for $200 USD, he and Abid made sure she got the treatment. They also provided some liquified nutrition that her failing body could appropriately process.
When they returned a few days later, the difference in her health was remarkable, maybe even miraculous. She was moving around and speaking!
A few days later, the difference was remarkable!
Steve also left this family with audio Bibles for each of them, funded by ITMI supporters’ gifts through our 2022 Christmas Giving Catalog. The family members are illiterate, but they can fill the long hours of labor by listening to God’s Word in Urdu!
Steve found that there are so many believers in Pakistan who could not attend school because of their poverty.
Illiterate, their Biblical knowledge is limited to what they hear at church. Abid is excited to see what will happen when these hungry believers can listen to God’s Word every day.
If their expressed joy and smiles are any indication of what is to come, then we’ll all get to watch the Word of God grow and strengthen these grateful believers.
More Stories from Steve's Visit to Asia
About the Authors
Steve Evers has advocated for and served the ITMI partners as ITMI Director since 2001. Approximately once a year, Steve visits with ITMI partners in their countries and brings stories back to encourage supporters. Steve enjoys photography and mechanics, (both hobbies that have greatly benefited ITMI partners!) Prior to becoming ITMI's Director, Steve served on the Board of Directors for 4 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.
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