2370) Considering the Cost (a)


Ayub Masih


Luke 14:28-33  —  (Jesus said),  “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower.  Won’t you first sit down and consider the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?  For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’  Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king.  Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.  In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.


   Ayub Masih, a 26 year old farmer, was one of only a few Christians in a predominantly Muslim village in Pakistan.  In 1996 Ayub got involved in a land dispute with a Muslim neighbor.  The neighbor thought of a way to get rid of Ayub quickly.  He went to the local authorities and said that the Christian, Ayub, had made derogatory statements against Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, and had said that Christianity was ‘correct.”  Pakistan has strict laws against such blasphemy and the penalties are severe.  Ayub had never said anything against Mohammed, but still he was arrested, quickly convicted, and sentenced to death by hanging.  During the trial, Ayub’s accuser shot and injured Ayub in the courtroom, but was never prosecuted by Pakistani authorities, and continued as the main witness against Ayub. 

     Fair trials are hard to get in many local courts.  In this case, during the trial, Muslim extremists threatened to kill the judge, lawyers, and jury if Ayub was not convicted.  These were not idle threats.  A Pakistani trial court judge had recently been murdered after acquitting two men of blasphemy.  Not only was Ayub sentenced to die, but the local Muslim population was so angered by the alleged blasphemy, that they drove all the Christians out of town.  All this because of a false accusation.  Ayub was completely innocent.  But what did his wicked neighbor receive for his lies?  He received not only the land in dispute, but all of Ayub’s land, as his entire family was driven out.  It is very hard to be a Christian in Pakistan.

     Ayub’s case was appealed, and he waited in prison for five years before the next higher court would hear his case.  Conditions in the prison were most appalling and he was tortured often.  He suffered attacks from other prisoners, denial of medical care for severe skin allergies and hemorrhoids, and solitary confinement in an 8 x 8 x 8-foot cell where the temperature often exceeded 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

     Finally, in July of 2001, Ayub’s case was heard again, but his appeal was rejected.  The Supreme Court was his last chance to avoid hanging, and facing international pressure, they did agree to hear his case.  On August 15, 2002 the Supreme Court unanimously decided in Ayub’s favor.  They declared what had been obvious for six years, that the accusation was fabricated by the neighbor for personal gain in order to acquire Ayub’s property.  He was acquitted of all charges and released from death row.

     So was this a happy ending for Ayub?  Did he and his family get to go home and get their farm back?  Of course not.  Ayub had to go into hiding because Muslim extremists were still threatening to find him and kill him.  He would never go home again.

     “Freedom Now” organization worked closely with the U.S. State Department and other groups to arrange Ayub’s quick exit from Pakistan.  He arrived in the United States on September 4, 2002 and successfully claimed political asylum.

–Written with information from the Freedom Now website at: 



     It costs something to be a Christian in Pakistan.

     In Luke 14 Jesus said that if you want to be his disciple, you had better consider the cost before you make that decision.  It is just like any building project, he said.  If you are going to build something, you first better decide whether or not you have enough money.  Or, it is like a king going to war.  He had better first decide if he has enough soldiers to win, or else he had better ask ahead of time for the terms of peace.  And not only must you count the cost, Jesus says in some other verses, you must also be ready to make your faith even more important than your family.  In fact, you must value your faith even more than you value your own life.  That is a lot to think about.  Deciding to become a Christian is a big decision, says Jesus, and you better think it over very carefully before you make that commitment.

     So, did you do that?  Did you do what Jesus told you to do, and give very careful thought to what you were doing before you became a Christian?   I know I didn’t.  I became a Christian 66 years ago this summer when I was brought forward by my parents to be baptized at the age of two weeks.   Actually, I don’t recall giving it very much thought at all at the time.  In fact, I don’t think I was even asked.  I was brought forward by people a lot bigger than me and held on to tightly, as water was sprinkled over my head by good old Pastor Herder.  I could not have stopped them all even if I wanted to.  

     But really, it was all done just the way Jesus said it should be done.  No age requirement was listed with the instructions in Matthew 28:19.   All was done as directed, with water, and in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  

     But I did not first count the cost, like Jesus said I should have done.  Perhaps it was the same for you.  So, now what?  (continued…)