Perspective for Pastors: Pakistan Preacher to Encourage Clergy at Convention 2023
By Carl Stagner
Several aspects of Church of God Convention 2023 are coming together to produce a distinctly international experience. God’s got the whole world in his hands, after all, and he’s piecing together guests, speakers, and a schedule in vivid demonstration of this timeless truth. Rev. Dr. Samuel George, who was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and today offers leadership to some 225 congregations of the Church of God in Pakistan, is slated to provide perspective to pastors and spouses during the Pastors and Spouses Banquet in Tampa. With insights accrued across the miles—and the ocean—plus eyewitness testimony to the life-changing power of God, Pastor Samuel’s place on the platform is yet another reason people are making Convention 2023 and General Assembly a summer priority.
As an only child, Samuel George pursued a bachelor of theology with an emphasis on missions and a minor in business administration. In the States, he attended law school at the University of Tulsa before earning a master of ministry and a doctor of ministry from Triune Biblical University. His academic qualifications are only matched by his practical experience in ministry as a local church pastor in Pakistan, a shepherd to shepherds across Pakistan, and a sought-after speaker and innovator for partner churches and ministers far beyond Pakistan’s borders.
When asked what he loves most about being a Christian, Pastor Samuel George responds from a starkly non-Western point of view. “First of all,” he notes, “it is something that, when you live in a place where you face serious challenges as a believer, it is a matter of importance to you and you don’t take it for granted. In the Western world, you can be a believer, or practice New Age ideas, or whatever, and nobody really cares about your choices. In the West, it’s part of your culture, often even part of your family and what you stand for. So, here in Pakistan, as a believer in Jesus Christ, I feel a duty to reach to others who don’t know about him. Jesus has become a crucial part of my life, even in all the ups and downs, which have taught me to rely on Jesus. Everyone else might leave you, but he is the one who will be with us to the very end.”
Rev. Dr. Samuel George is motivated by a deep urgency to bring the hope of Jesus to people who are searching for hope, peace, and truth. Taking such a treasure for granted in his own heart is simply not an option.
“There are strongholds trying to stop the word of God from spreading,” he explains. “I feel accountable to those around me; they must know the good news of Jesus, and my duty is to make sure of that. I will be answerable on the Day. I love how we are able to reach out to people here and see the results—bondages are broken, diseases are gone. God works in strange ways, and to see the fruit of our labor brings joy to my heart.”
Of course, it’s not easy to practice Christianity in certain parts of the world, Pakistan included. While the persecution may not be as rampant or as overt in Pakistan as in some countries, Christians nevertheless experience challenges.
Pastor Samuel George explains: “Here we don’t have the freedom to openly go out and stand in the street to share the good news. We may get arrested for that; we just don’t have that luxury. We cannot go out and ask someone directly to change their faith; that is also prohibited under the law. Therefore, when someone accepts Jesus, there is some risk involved. But the Scripture still gives the command. Perhaps the advantage to all this is that, when people become believers, they seem more likely to stand during the tough times.”
Rev. Dr. Samuel George goes on to explain that many people who come to Christ choose, of their own free will, to enter within the four walls of the church. When they do so, they hear the gospel and the church is not considered to be imposing beliefs on them.
“There is a hunger here,” Pastor Samuel George continues. “People are seeking something genuine, something real, something of comfort. When they find that in Christ, they hold on to it.”
It wasn’t that long ago that the invitation to this Pakistani pastor to come to Tampa for the Church of God Convention would have simply been improbable. The congregations under Samuel George’s direction haven’t always been a part of the Church of God movement. Many will remember the testimony shared the better part of a decade ago at the Church of God Convention when we welcomed him into the family. The occasion was a beautiful ceremony of celebration, after the culmination of a series of sovereignly orchestrated events introducing this body of believers in Pakistan to the Movement.
“In 2012, we were praying for the Lord to open up new doors for us,” Samuel George recalls. “We are in partnership with another big-name denomination at the time but, due to financial and world situations after 9-11, the mutual decision was made to go our separate ways.”
The multifaceted story of how the Pakistani believers came to affiliate with the Church of God movement involved a conference in Thailand, Global Strategy’s Don and Caroline Armstrong, a connection with Jim Lyon expressing desire to expand the Church of God into Pakistan, and praise to God for the discovery of shared beliefs, values, and dreams. Rev. Dr. Samuel George looks back on it as a “blessed, mutual union.”
Of the invitation to speak at the Church of God Convention this year, Pastor Samuel George says, “I’m honored and glad to be a part of this. I believe in the future the time is coming where the Church of God around the world will play a bigger role in winning any souls into the kingdom of God as we join our hands in prayer and with one mind to fulfill the Great Commission.”
“He’s got the whole world in his hands.” What an encouraging reality! Be inspired by it, be challenged by it, and experience it firsthand at Convention 2023 and General Assembly, June 22–25 in Tampa, Florida. Learn more and register at www.chogconvention.org.
Feature (top) photo: Samuel George interviewed at Convention 2021 in Denver, Colorado.