By Jacky tamez
Julie Aftab always wanted to become a doctor, but it seems as though God had a different plan for her life. After being persecuted in Pakistan for her Christian faith, Aftab began using her experience to show God’s blessing in her life.
Aftab, a Pakistani native, shared her testimony at convocation Feb. 27 in Belin Chapel. Her testimony included being burned by acid, numerous attempts on her life and how God walked with her through every trial and tribulation. Her main point throughout her testimony, however, was that people should not hate each other based on religion or gender but love one another.
“As Christians, we are not to spread hate but love,” Aftab said. “When Jesus was crucified, He could have done anything to his persecutors but instead He chose to bless them and ask God for their forgiveness.”
The oldest of seven children, Aftab was born in a poor family. When Aftab was 12, her father was involved in a bus accident that forced her to leave school in order to work and support her family.
On June 15, 2002, Muslim men attacked Aftab due to her faith by pouring acid on her face and forcing her to swallow some. As a result, she lost her eyesight and 67 percent of her esophagus was damaged, leading the doctors to conclude that Aftab would never be able to see or speak. However, after three months, Aftab regained both her sight and voice on the same day.
Aftab does not view this situation in a negative way. Instead, she believes that it is a blessing from God.
“Those people, God used them to fulfill my dream,” Aftab said.
Many people, including some of her family members, believed Aftab had the right to hate the group of people who caused her so much suffering. Some also suggested retaliation, but Aftab simply asked if that would take away her pain or scars.
“Christianity is not forced,” Aftab said. “Jesus said, ‘Come follow me’ and people followed. If a person does not have fire in their hearts, then they cannot follow Jesus. We love everyone as human beings, not because of their religion.”
Realizing that her life was in danger, since Pakistani law states that a person who commits blasphemy against Islam is to be hanged, Aftab sought a refugee’s visa to come to the United States. With the help of Shriners Hospital for Children, Aftab arrived in the United States in 2004.
She began speaking about her struggles in 2004 with the aid of a translator, but in 2005 she began speaking English on her own. Currently, she is working towards a degree in accounting at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
Tom Mosley, University minister, said that Aftab’s testimony impacted many, especially female students.
“Her story helps female students understand that they are valued by God,” Mosley said. “It shows that there is an opportunity for girls.”
Renew the Hope is an organization Aftab began that aids persecuted young girls. It opened on Good Friday in 2010 and is located in Pakistan. Aftab manages the organization with the help of technology and her family.
“I am nothing without God,” Aftab said. “I am simply His servant; He should be getting the glory.”
Junior Monica Guana said she was inspired and hopes that more people like Aftab will speak at convocation.
“Despite her situation, God revealed Himself to be working in her life,” Guana said. “It changed the perspective on how I view my situation. She is very strong and reveals that we serve a global God.”