Updated: Mar 17
Missionary to America: Julie Das, Pakistan
Julie Das was born in Pakistan, lived in America for three decades and recently returned to Pakistan to begin nine new congregations.
In between there are important lessons for Christians.
Julie’s family had been Christian since World War I when her Pakistani grandfather saved the life of a British major. In gratitude the major brought Julie’s grandfather to new life in Jesus. Julie grew up when Christian schools were the norm for children in Pakistan. The young girl was challenged; outside school Pakistani children called her “paleed,” ”despicable,” because she was Christian. Inside the Christian school she learned to love those who insulted her and to defend her faith. (You can read more about Julie by ordering her biography by clicking the button.
As a young woman she joined organizations working to give opportunity to women in Pakistan. Then a door opened to immigrate to America with her husband, Jay. Julie soon discovered America was not all that Christians in Pakistan hoped for. Not long after the disastrous 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center Julie and her family were inline to buy tickets to a movie. It was a chilly night and Julie was wearing one of the neck to floor dresses she brought from Pakistan. There was a group of teenagers next to the family and Julie heard one of the teenage girls say, “What a beautiful dress she is wearing.” And then, from a boy in the group, “Yeah, I bet she has a bomb under that dress.” The remark insulted her and embarrassed her two little boys.
She came to know America as a secular country, not “The Little House on the Prairie” shown on television in Pakistan. That dismayed her but did not deter her. How could God use her in this new environment? The young mother found the answer a few miles from her home at Faith Lutheran Church, Naples, Florida.
Pastor Donald Treglown, a former Lutheran missionary to the Philippines, helped her begin “Voice of Faith,” a mission society with a dual purpose. Voice of Faith reached out with the love of Christ to Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs. And, cultural events were held at Faith to teach Americans about the culture of Pakistan. This included a wedding in full Pakistani garb. Because finding Pakistani clothing in SW Florida was impossible, a sewing group began with sewing machines donated by Faith members. Middle Eastern women of any faith were invited to attend to learn how to sew traditional dresses. General conversation was shared, but Julie and her sister and Christian friends also shared information about their Christian beliefs.
Voice of Faith grew to include supporters from outside SW Florida. Eventually Julie Das received invitations to speak at conferences of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, as well as circuit pastoral conferences, and larger District gatherings. But no respectable Pakistani women would go to another area to stay without another adult.
Jay, now the owner of a thriving electrical contracting business, began to go along. Jay is not, as they say, loquacious. He doesn’t talk much, but when he does people listen. His knowledge of Scripture and his wisdom make up for his few words. Pastors at the conferences he attended with Julie began to encourage Jay to become ordained. Jay entered the Ethnic Institute of Theology at Concordia Seminary. Which brought the Dases to an unexpected next step.
Jay needed a year of internship but none existed in Southwest Florida. Then a door opened in Cumming, Georgia. Pastor Paul Droegemueller became a great friend and supporter of Vicar Jay and Julie. Unfortunately several members of Pr. Droegemueller congregation left because of his support for the couple from Pakistan. But more doors began to open. On a trip back to Lahore, Pakistan the Dases spent time with leaders of churches in that Muslim country. These leaders encouraged the couple from America to think about doing outreach in Pakistan. When they returned to Cumming, the Dases shared this crazy idea with Paul Droegemueller. He became more enthusiastic than Julie and Jay. The die was cast.
With support from the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, Vicar Das was sent back to Pakistan to explore possibilities. What has happened since? Rev. Jay Das, now an ordained pastor, led by the Spirit, has raised up nine young men eager to receive theological training. Online and in person visits from Concordia Theological Seminary professors are preparing them to be pastor missionaries. A residence and outreach center has opened in Islamabad. Catechism classes have begun for children attending the church. This Christmas a hotel in Islamabad allowed the mission to erect a Christmas tree in their hotel and agreed to have the mission’s children’s choir sing. Twenty seven children from the mission shared their faith by singing Christmas carols in the hotel lobby.
What lessons were learned? Not to judge people by their dress. What appeared to a teenage boy as a Muslim woman was a committed Christian. Furthermore, Christian pastors can open doors if they are courageous. Third (confession time) this writer advised against the direction the Dases have taken in Pakistan. With so many Christian churches needing support why would the Lord need one more American church body working in Islamabad? Why not try to help those other churches? I was wrong. The Spirit of Jesus cannot be harnessed in one expression of Jesus’ love. In the new Lutheran mission, missionaries are being raised up, confirmation classes have begun and Christmas carols were sung by children in a hotel.
What’s next? With the support of churches in America each new church started will begin a Lutheran school, so that children can find support for their Christian faith and learn to defend their faith – just like the girl whose grandfather became a Christian in WW I found comfort and support in her day.
"But Jesus called the children to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. “ Luke 18:16.
If you are inspired to help fund the new mission, please send a check earmarked for Julie and Jay Das to:
Living Faith Lutheran Church, 1171 Atlanta HWY, Cumming, GA 30040-6405
Julie's complete video interview with Dr. Bob Scudieri