Persecuted Christians in Pakistan freed from bonded slavery
After decades in bondage, persecuted Christians in Pakistan, Sayad and Ruth, are freed from bonded slavery and brick kiln debt.
Sayad and his wife, Ruth, part of Pakistan’s marginalized Christian minority, reside in a modest hut near the smoky kiln chimney. Their financial burden began over five decades ago with a loan taken during a family emergency. The kiln owner’s offer of money brought hope to Sayad, who believed that their hard work would suffice to repay it.
“We’ve spent our whole lives here,” Sayad reflects, his gaze heavy with resignation. “With what we earn daily, repaying the loan is an impossibility.”
The couple makes just a few dollars a day—a sum barely enough to cover food, let alone service their debt. In Pakistan’s bonded labor system, workers like Sayad take cash advances that bind families to the kilns indefinitely, with exorbitant interest rates and wage deductions perpetuating their servitude.
More than two million Pakistanis are caught in this cycle of debt. Predatory lending ensures that their balances swell rather than decline. Often, these bonded workers are minorities—Christians, Hindus or lower-caste Muslims—whose limited employment options and poverty leave them exposed to exploitation.
For years, Sayad and Ruth have survived on mere bread, tea and beans. They took further loans for medical emergencies and essentials, such as winter clothing for their children. As the interest compounded, Sayad faced the harrowing prospect of his debt outliving him: “After our death, this debt will pass to our children,” he laments with evident distress.
Amidst unyielding labor and poverty, the family found solace in small joys—sharing stories, celebrating weddings and holding fast to their faith, even as Christians faced increasing persecution in Pakistan through mob attacks and blasphemy accusations. Each night, Sayad’s prayers rose: “Only Jesus Christ will hear our prayers.”
However, this year marked a turning point for Sayad’s family. We returned to visit Sayad and Ruth, this time with a check to free them from bonded slavery.