The promise of more miracles
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The co-founder of Miracle School ministries in Pakistan, Angela Michael, has asked for help to start more schools and a feeding program during a recent visit to Australia.
The involvement of a number of Sydney Anglicans and now the sponsorship of Anglican Aid is helping Miracle Schools educate children enslaved in the brick kilns of Lahore. The children, many of whom are orphans, are trapped in intergenerational slavery and forced to make bricks to pay off their family’s debts. Ms Michael toured Sydney and the Central West of NSW in May to appeal for help to expand.
“We are anti-slavery,” she said. “We are providing free education to all those children who are deprived of human rights. It is totally inhuman what they are facing. So we are trying to do as much as we can – we are working to have more schools at brick kilns, and more resources.”
From the Archbishop’s office and the Cathedral to suburban and country churches as well as schools, Ms Michael brought the Miracle School message to more than 4500 people and, at one dinner alone, more than $10,000 was raised.
“We have been discussing with Anglican Aid that we would like to have a feeding program – we also want to replace the old buses they are using – and especially start more schools,” she said.
The Miracle School started with just 57 students in a teacher’s home. Now there are more than 600 students enrolled. “We want kindergarten and primary schools because we want to keep the children away from the brick kilns,” she said. “We need to motivate all the mothers and the parents to send the children to the schools.”
As she spoke to the Sydney Diocesan magazine Southern Cross in an air-conditioned office in Sydney, Ms Michael was preparing to return to temperatures above 40 degrees in Lahore. “June is the big month for producing more bricks because it is the ideal month for the brick owner: full sunshine, full heat,” she said. “These poor people have to work in that like machines, no shelter upon them making bricks, because in July and August there will not be brick making because of the monsoon season. There are more than 2000 brick kilns and these people have to make 1000 bricks for just $3.”
Ms Michael, who was converted in her teenage years, is especially passionate about reaching the next generation for Christ.
“Whole families are working, and the teenagers, we have adult literacy and Bible studies with them, bringing them hope,” she said. “The basic thing with these slaves is bringing them hope. They are just nominal Christians. They don’t know Christianity; they are just born ‘Christian’. They are not born again. So we have to bring hope to them and if they have hope it will be easy to educate them.”
A third area has already been identified for a school and the Archbishop of Sydney’s Anglican Aid is working on ways to help fund this expansion plus the new feeding program.
“At least once or twice a week, if not every day, we would like to provide a complete hot meal to the children – even a simple one like rice or lentils or vegetables, healthy food so that at least they can have something,” Ms Michael said. “At the moment we are providing a glass of milk weekly and any fruit which is available cheap in the market and a boiled egg. We also provide medicines and vaccinations but doctors have advised nutritious food is also very important for them.”
Christians make up 1.6 percent of Pakistan’s population and are under extreme persecution, with Open Doors ranking Pakistan number six on the list of countries where Christians are most at risk. Angela Michael is also assisting the victims of this year’s Easter Day bombings in Lahore, which targeted Christians at a fairground. The attacks killed 72 people and le many more injured. A number of these are still in hospital and face significant disability when they are released.
Despite the huge pressures at home, when asked about her message to Australians Ms Michael’s concern was for our spiritual state.
“Australians need prayer because they are very blessed and they have no idea what they have,” she said. “Especially the youth – they are taking it for granted. Bring the new generation and bring the youth towards the faith. That is very important because from outside it is the perception that Australia is a Christian country. Before coming to Australia I had the same feelings. The youth are unaware of this because they have no idea, no goals and they have no purpose of life, actually, so they don’t need God.
“For Australia my slogan would be ‘Fill the benches!’ And Australia is in my heartiest prayers for this. As Miracle is in need of financial help, Australia is in need of spiritual help so it will be in my prayers, beside all the love of Australian people.”
Photo: Sharing the Miracle: Angela Michael speaks to students at Roseville College.