Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tyler pastor in Pakistan also visit schools

At a time when many people avoid for fear of the Middle East, some local religious leaders believe their presence and support of religion in this region can change lives for the better.

Rev. Stuart Baskin, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Tyler and Dr. Sally Smith, a former church, were among nine Americans who recently Pakistan to learn more about Presbyterian work in this country to provide education for children, especially in poverty.

In Pakistan, a little over half of the population is literate, 15 and over. For men who rose nearly 69 percent, and for women, it reduces by about 40 percent, according to the CIA World Factbook online.

How Baskin see is the formation of well individually for the life of every child, but also work together for the good of the country and the world.

Lack of education leads to poverty and unstable political system, he said. People with time on their hands and some options are easy prey for Islamic fundamentalist groups.

Baskin said part of the significance of this service is to contribute to the development of a stable Pakistan and help during the country's future.

"This is not Christians against Muslims," said Baskin. "It's a question of the fight against poverty because fuel poverty and desperation fuels desperate measures ..."

For seven days in the country, the group visited five schools, two dedications construction and Baskin two churches preached.

Purpose of the trip was for visitors to see what happens in schools and needs so that they re here to communicate the work to the United States and funds.

Baskin said that the classrooms were clean and equipped with a desk, books and traditional panels. Room lacked computer and SMART boards that work like giant touch-screen computers, but there were computer rooms in buildings.

"Schools are very impressive," said Baskin. "They are not as relevant as the American classrooms, but they are not in the Stone Age did not."

The education of children

The Presbyterian Education Board in Pakistan operates about a dozen schools in Pakistan.

The Reverend Ed Morgan, a retired Presbyterian minister and director of American Friends nonprofit Council of the Presbyterian education, said the 12 schools serving about 6,000 students together.

Ratings go from kindergarten to Grade 12 and 12 classes with 11 works more like a junior college, Morgan said. In addition to these sites, there are 10 village schools.

Most courses in English with some Urdu performed. The schools are Christian schools, but about 67 percent of the students are Muslim.

Morgan, who lives in Minnesota, said that teachers teach students with Christian values, but they do not seek to convert Muslims to Christianity students.

In religious education, Muslim students learn about their faith and the Koran, while students learn about their Christian faith and the Bible, he said.

"It is also an institution and peacemaking educational effort," he said, adding that, apart from such schools, students and adult Muslims and Christians interact very rarely. "This is a opportunity for them to get to know each other and see each other as human beings. "

Students who have passed through the Presbyterian schools use it as a basis for continuing education, says Morgan. Many former students then return to their families to help them financially.

Morgan said he believes that every child is born with potential and "if we educate the child, we are publishing this potential, which is good for the baby and good for the world."

Discover the culture

Pakistan and its schools have been in the news recently after the Taliban deadly attack more than a week on public schools of the Army and Degree College Peshawar, which is in the northwest of the country.

The attack, which 145 people, mostly children left behind, dead people, passed about 70 miles from the nearest Presbyterian school.

Morgan said, although their schools have never been attacked, they have a lot of threats, which are one of the reasons of security measures in place for existing schools.

He said the latest attack seems the whole country to have galvanized stand against terrorism, according to an email he received from the Presbyterian School Superintendent.

But this terrible violence marked so often in the news is not representative of the country as a whole. Extremist groups are a very small minority of the population in Pakistan, says Morgan.

"The vast majority of what you will experience very friendly, hospitable people who ... (welcome you to their) home," he said.

They are open to Americans, even if they do not always appreciate the US government policy, he said.

"I've been there four times and I've never had a situation ... where I felt my safety," he said, adding that the greatest danger is traffic. "This is a beautiful country. It's so different from our people here. "

Baskin said he was not afraid during the trip because his group was well protected and those who had traveled with them diligently to ensure that Americans remained under their watchful eyes.

"What's in the news and what is real in the field are often very different things," he said. "In most places, most people are just trying to spend the day."

Instead of violence, Americans faced overwhelming hospitality. Everywhere, the group of visitors if they were treated like royalty, says Baskin.

Students who were dressed in their finest suits or uniforms, put garlands around the neck of visitors discounts threw flowers and rose petals. A group of marching band or dance usually performed during the welcoming ceremony in the schools, the Baskin.

A photo in one of the buildings is taken signings, shows American flag hanging in the background on the stage. In another photo, a student holds a poster with the Pakistani and US flags side by side and another student holds a poster that says "Peace."

In the future, Baskin of First Presbyterian Church of Tyler said the money could increase support for the work of the Council of the Presbyterian education, and may in the future raise funds to renovate or construct buildings in schools.

He said there are a lot of missionary work and people in need locally, but the Church must be involved in the work of international missions.

Baskin said the work in Pakistan is very much a partnership between the Presbyterian Church USA, which owns the country's schools, and the Council of the Presbyterian Education of Pakistan who run the schools.

"We do not want to control the schools," he said. "We want to help support them."