Singing God's praise in Pakistan
"A voice is a human gift; it should be cherished and used, to utter fully human speech as possible. Powerlessness and silence go together." Margaret Atwood
Amidst the trials and unending problems for Christians living in Pakistan, certainly no words or actions that can pacify or comfort them. Under constant threats and the fear that something might happen which will shatter their lives in the form of persecution, attack or blasphemy law, God's hand is more powerful to strengthen the Christians of Pakistan in their faith.
Soon after twin suicide attacks inside the church of Peshawar, I relentlessly started to search how the Christians living in Pakistan can ever have even a modicum of hope, what they need to do among themselves to uplift and encourage others to keep up with the faith. A committed and dedicated spirit is needed to drive such motives to give the message of hope and peace. No one other than someone from among them can deliver this message.
In my search for this, I found this young group of Christian worshippers who carry the message of peace, hope and love in their music. Formed in November 2011, with the name of Hallelujah - The Band, this musical group of six is not only blessed with the talent but also the power of faith and love for Jesus Christ.
The members of the band are: Zahid Nazir (vocalists), Zeeshan Rafiq (vocalist, lyricist, composer), Anthony Soshil Shah (Keyboard, arrangement and music programmer), Adnan Peter Gill (Guitarist, mixing and mastering engineer), Waqar Peter Gill (Guitarist, production and video director) and Sunil Inayat (Bassist and recording engineer).
"Hallelujah is not the name of our musical band rather the slogan that we carry and it's the word that everyone can say and affiliate their faith with," said Waqar Peter Gill, the band's spokesman and guitarist.
The motivation behind the formation of this gospel band is to give the message to the world and the Muslims, majority population of Pakistan about the love, peace and forgiveness that the Christians carry having the name of Jesus Christ.
"We want to spread the message of hope amongst the Christians who are living in fear through our worship and music," Waqar told.
Gifted with the talent to sing in more than one language, this band magnificently mixes Urdu with English to make it easy for international listeners to understand. Their song "Mera Masih (My Jesus) is the vivid manifestation of this.
Not only this, but this group's song "Rahber" has become the first Christian video that has been played on different music channels in Pakistan and was entitled as "the true message of peace".
It's only in recent years that there is a trend of Christian bands forming and singing like professional singers. Before that, mostly Muslim singers would sing and make albums for psalms and the Christian songs, which are still very popular. The professional Christian singers that time and even now are very few.
As I talked to Waqar, I came to know that the other purpose of forming this band is to show that the Christians have the talent to bring their own music and worship in true spirit.
This band is a project of Alfa Productions which only brings out gospel productions and also trains young Christians as interns to give them a hands-on approach so that afterwards when they enter the professional world, they won't face as many problems in terms of practical knowledge.
Hallelujah band's story of bringing change in the lives of the Christians in Pakistan doesn't end here but they are also aspiring to run a blood donation network, the need of which they felt after the Peshawar church attacks. They are committed to help all the people irrespective of race, colour and religion through this blood bank after its formation.
I know one fact very clearly that whenever you are in the minority you either get strengthened in your faith or you give up in the face of insecurity, threats or persecution. For the Christians of Pakistan, the voices like the Hallelujah band will always keep strengthening their faith and deliver the message of peace for everyone. As it's just the voice that we all have.