From Lahore to radio ministry in Glasgow

Sheraz Khan (right) interviewing Waris Abdullah at the Awaz FM studio

Waris Abdullah, a Pakistani British Christian who moved to Glasgow over four decades ago, says he takes great pride in being instrumental in spreading the Gospel through a weekly radio programme on Awaz Radio 107.2 FM, Glasgow.

It is one of the famous south Asian community radio station in Glasgow, which airs a variety of programmes in many languages such as English, Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, Paharhi and Swahili.

Mr Abdullah said he was not a preacher himself but he invites a preacher to his radio show every week who shares his message in the Urdu language.

"I receive phone calls from the UK, Africa, Pakistan, India and the United States following my radio evangelistic programmes," an upbeat Abdullah told Assist News Service.

He was born in Lahore, the eastern city of Pakistan, and went to Don Bosco School in that same city. He was intrigued to study performing arts, but he said that there weren't any opportunities to study that discipline at that time.

"I was kind of a rebel. There have been times when I would be away from home for six months in my quest to explore an opportunity to study dance," said Waris, adding that dancing being a "taboo" in Pakistan , caused him to fail in his attempts to release his potential.

Mr Abdullah, then an ambitious young man, came to Britain in 1965 and started living in the multi-cultural Brick Lane area of East London, located in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. He recalled that he came to London by road travelling through Iran, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Denmark and France. He came to the Lord in 1967 after he heard a "powerful sermon" by a minister at Speaker's Corner in London's Hyde Park.

Asked what London was like in late 1960s, he said: "It was smoky and polluted because of all of the industry and factories there."

As it was relatively easier for people to find jobs in the UK who moved there during that period, Mr Abdullah was fortunate in finding a job in a leather factory in London.

He said: "The factory was owned by a Jewish man. I was happy that I had a job. I worked hard to learn all skills from cutting to stitching leather and suede jackets."

Mr Abdullah added that he also worked for a year and half in a BBC costume section.

He moved to Scotland in 1975 and worked as a manager in several leather factories before setting up his own leather factory in Glasgow in 1978.

He told ANS he also set up a factory in 1986 in the southern port city of Karachi but he had to close the factory following "irreconcilable differences" with his Muslim partner in Pakistan.

"I was disappointed as I had invested £50,000 in the business," he said.

Following the death of his wife Moniza in 1977, Mr Abdullah said that he could not attend to his leather factory in Glasgow as he had to raise his three children, Haroon Khan, Arma Nobel and Sunniya Abdullah.

Asked how and when he started his radio ministry called "Awazay Masihay" (Voice of Jesus), Mr Abdullah had an interesting story to share. He put the transition from the owner of a leather business to become a "Radio Missionary" down to a miracle.

"About four and half years ago, Taresh Nahar, a Hindu friend of mine asked me if I would like to be an anchor on a Christian radio programme at Awaz FM," he explained.

He told Mr Nahar he had "no previous experience" and he added that he thought that his linguistic skills weren't great "but I thought Jesus looks at the heart and not verbosity".

Asked to name a few prominent Christians who had been on his show during the past four-and-a-half years, Mr Abdullah picked out one, Asif Bhatti, a Gospel singer from London, who came to record some 150 Psalms at his studio.

"I am delighted God is using me for extension of his kingdom," he said.

He has certainly come a long way from Lahore to Glasgow, but he is now thrilled to be able to broadcast the Good News of the Gospel in his unique way.

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