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Rev. Dr. Jennie Harrop – Associate Dean at George Fox University and lead pastor of ECO’s Cedar Creek Church in Sherwood, Oregon
In November, Rev. Dr. Jennie Harrop took her first steps into Pakistan. Pakistan is a Muslim-majority country that ranks 7th on Open Doors’ list of countries where persecution of Christians is most intense. The purpose of the visit was to explore the way Presbyterian Education Board in Pakistan is making a gospel-infused impact in Pakistan, particularly among women and children.
Recently, Tom Boone of The Outreach Foundation sat down with Dr. Harrop to unpack the significance of this visit.
This was your first visit to Pakistan. What most surprised you?
The food is excellent and I loved the lentils, rice, and spinach in particular. However, I was caught off-guard by the spice level. Also, I was surprised how quickly the poor air quality index of 350 impacted my lungs. I was pleased to see fifth-grade student presentations on pollution control – they are on it!
It is rare that women are able to preach in Pakistan. Tell us about your experience.
First, a big thank you to Pastor Reuben Qamar, moderator for the Presbyterian Church in Pakistan, for extending the invitation. It was an honor to preach and to represent ECO’s ordained women and so many others in that moment. The auditorium seats 800 and it was nearly full, and I was in awe of the ways the Lord must have moved to allow for that to happen. It was a joy to look out over the congregation with so many dressed in bold, traditional Pakistani colors, and know that the promise of Christ’s joy supersedes all of the barriers we so often see as insurmountable. I was also honored that so many young women and students came up to me afterward to talk. Those interactions were energizing after traveling for 30 hours!
You were able to see PEB’s work first hand. What impact has this had upon you, your family, and your congregation?
My life mission is to empower others to live full, joy-filled lives, and this visit to Pakistan served as a way to explore how the Spirit intends to broaden this mission globally. PEB’s Christian private schools are educating thousands of children who would otherwise remain impoverished and never hear about the promises of Christianity.
As one of my colleagues said, “This is a global impact.” It is difficult to fully understand the effect on a society when girls are sent home after only a fifth-grade education at best so they can marry and begin having babies at 10 years old. As Pakistani girls return as highly educated women, oppressed women in the neighboring countries of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and India will take note and realize that they, too, can step into a whole new future.
Jesus is behind all of this, and it has made an irretractable mark on me, my family, and even my congregation as we are discerning how best to step into this opportunity to be part of God’s incarnational mission in his land of Pakistan.
Why is it important for ECO pastors to consider PEB among their mission priorities?
I found myself asking often, “Why aren’t more ECO churches involved in this?” The work of the PEB strikes deeper than food boxes and a new building. When people are taught to wonder, to explore, and to think critically about the world around them, they become the change agents. This is mission done well. We are being asked to partner with Pakistani Christians to empower girls and women so they can effect remarkable change in this troubled world. That’s sharing the Gospel in an enduring and nuanced way. More than empowerment, though, this is about helping Muslims and Christians both realize that in Jesus there is true joy, peace, and hope.
Now that I have been to Pakistan, it blows me away just how accessible and wide open this mission field is for us. 150 years ago, Presbyterian missionaries launched into this region. It was the same group that started the mission in Egypt. Our next step as ECO pastors and congregations is to step into the good work they started.
Today you and your family can make an impact by providing educational scholarships for $400/year. Also, Veda Gill, Executive Director of PEB, will be visiting our ECO National Gathering. Please plan a visit to PEB’s booth! Finally, we are planning a return visit in early 2025. TOF is offering scholarships for these visits for qualified participants. Reach out to Tom Boone (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.