What Christians in Muslim Lands Must Endure
True Stories of Courageous Christians Living Their Faith in Muslim Lands
Muslim persecution of Christians has been a pervasive issue, with some sources publishing the annual numbers of deaths. To educate the public about such atrocities, author Casey Chalk wrote The Persecuted: True Stories of Courageous Christians Living Their Faith in Muslim Lands, published by Sophia Institute Press (2021).
As Pieter Vree, editor of the magazine New Oxford Review, wrote in the book’s foreword, “The persecution of Christians is nothing new.” He said, “Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself faced persecution, harassment, threats, and stoning attempts throughout His ministry…” Even Pope Francis, during a Mass in Casa Santa Marta, talked about how a Taliban splinter group in Lahore, Pakistan, blew up a Christian prayer group.
But instead of addressing this calamity worldwide, Chalk focuses on the problems of a single man and his family who fled from Pakistan to Bangkok, Thailand, and then were forced back to Pakistan. The man, Michael D’Souza, half South Asian and half Portuguese, was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, and was a devout Catholic.
In the late 1990s he married and was working in Karachi for an Anglican-affiliated school, but by the beginning of the 2000s the beginnings of Muslim persecutions began, and he was fired from the school. By 2006, two mullahs came to his house and ordered D’Souza to convert to Islam, though he refused. Visits to his home continued for the next several years, and he even got visits when he worked as a sacristan at St. Anthony Church.
Assaults on D’Souza and his family continued despite his moving to other towns in Pakistan. In October 2012, he and his family moved back to another part of Karachi. On his way to St. Patrick Cathedral to visit Father Peter John, he saw plastered on walls of a neighboring mosque pictures of him saying he had insulted Islam. D’Souza that night fled Karachi to a neighboring town staying with family members urging him to flee Pakistan. He also asked Father Peter John for advice and was urged to leave the country.
The D’Souza family arrived in Bangkok the end of November 2012, but although they had tourist visas, Thai officials started causing issues. D’Souza joined the Holy Redeemer Redemptorist parish, where a friend gave them the money to pay off Thai officials at the detention center. A year later, D’Souza sought refugee status from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, but he was denied, leaving the family with few options. The family made friends with parishioners at the Holy Redeemer who gave them financial support. One parishioner even put them up in an apartment.
Then in mid-2014 Casey Chalk and his family moved to Bangkok and became active parishioners of Holy Redeemer. As Chalk discovered, D’Souza was a devout parishioner, and after introducing himself to D’Souza, Chalk and his wife began their efforts to help fund and support the family. Throughout the rest of the book, Chalk details how D’Souza struggled to find work and to stay as a refugee in Thailand. Sadly, as the author wrote, “There are many Pakistani asylum seekers and refugees in Thailand, probably somewhere between seven thousand and twelve thousand people. Most of them are Catholics and Evangelical Christians.”
Then in 2017 the family finally decided to return to Pakistan because they had endured such suffering in Bangkok, and a few weeks after the D’Souza’s departure, Chalk and his family returned to the United States. Chalk has kept in touch with the D’Souza family over the next few years and has been working to find recourse to his ongoing Muslim persecution in Pakistan.
As Vree says about Chalk:
He has put a human face on the suffering that’s often hidden behind statistical gloss. We need to hear stories of families like the D’Souzas because we and they are members of the same body, the Body of Christ. Their pain is our pain, their loss our loss, and their joy likewise our joy.