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She Leads: The Woman Behind the Broadcast of CBH Urdu

 In All Church of God, CBH: Christians Broadcasting Hope, CHOG, Global Strategy

By Carl Stagner

A language spoken predominantly in Pakistan and western India is about to become the tenth language of Christians Broadcasting Hope (CBH), the international radio and multimedia ministry of the Church of God. One of the estimated 230 million people who speaks Urdu is Razia Mushtaq, and she is the woman behind the brand-new broadcast of CBH Urdu. Razia looks forward with great anticipation to providing leadership as both producer and online pastor of Chashma Hayat, which means “Streams of Living Water.” But in a part of the world where uncommon fittingly describes women in leadership, especially women in ministry, Razia Mushtaq is neither distracted nor deterred.

Razia was born in Lahore, the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab, but moved with her family to Karachi at only a year-and-a-half old. Though she sensed God’s call to ministry early in life, several barriers along her journey could have dashed her dreams. Instead, the Lord opened doors for her, and Razia persevered in the midst of challenging societal norms, cultural expectations, and the church tradition of her youth. Ultimately, Razia earned a bachelor’s degree and a master of divinity. Along the way, Samuel George—leader of approximately 263 congregations of the Church of God in Pakistan—proved instrumental to Razia pursuing her call.

Razia Mushtaq

“I do believe God still speaks through his people,” Razia recounts. “Samuel George encouraged me to come and join the seminary, though I had some hesitation. I didn’t have the money and, at first, ignored his offer. At the time, I was hiding my desire to go because I had to earn money for my family.”

Unfortunate circumstances proved to be the tipping point for Razia. She describes the motivation behind seeking the favor of Samuel George. “I had no choice but to go to him and discuss my problem. I told him of our certain responsibilities and how we could not pay the bills.”

Samuel George knew of Razia’s potential, but his options at the church were limited. Still, the church needed a janitor, and Razia needed a job. Acknowledging Razia was “overqualified” for the role, Samuel took Razia under his wing and continued to invest in her development as a leader. Meanwhile, Razia remembers she had no qualms about picking up a broom for the glory of God! After all, with a steady income she could further pursue her education and continue to grow in her faith in a church setting that was vibrant and nurturing.

Though hard labor is not beneath this young woman’s heart for service, Razia is overqualified for sweeping the halls because God has qualified her for vocational ministry. She is humble, smart, and eager to acquire wisdom and knowledge. Even in her “downtime,” Razia loves to learn. Besides the Bible (especially the books of prophecy), Razia owns a large collection of books and thoroughly enjoys reading commentaries and research papers. It should come as no surprise, then, that a mind like hers has grasped at least some of six languages, attaining fluency in majority of those. Her English is very strong, but her ability to communicate the gospel in Urdu is what will matter most in her new endeavor slated to begin on Easter.

“It is my burden and desire to reach out to our dear peoples with the Good News of the gospel in the Urdu language and other local dialects,” she observed early in the promotion of the new CBH language ministry. “We can reach many people with online platforms, radio, and television. People feel comfortable watching or listening from their homes, especially concerning matters relating to spirituality.”

Like much of the world today, much of Pakistan speaks English, too. But like much of the world, the local language and dialects are preferred for their ease of speech and understanding, their comfort, and even their humor. “We enjoy our language, we enjoy our pronunciation, and we do enjoy our jokes!” Razia quips.

Considering the public nature of her position and accomplishments, Razia recognizes the chance she’s been given to inspire others—especially young women. “I’m not the first one, though,” Razia explains. “There are many women in other denominations who are role models to me. But it is true that, in my church, I am the only lady who has a bachelor’s degree and master of divinity, and who is applying for another master’s degree and a PhD. So, yes, I can see that I can be a role model for a new generation.”

Teaching youth classes at the church gives Razia recurring moments with the next generation of leaders in church and society. Sometimes she notices these students don’t have a clear vision about the future; Razia helps them identify and embrace the mission, even when the future isn’t certain. One case stands out in her mind, centering on a young man who revealed to Razia that he had been “performing his duty” in the local church, but realized he was living out someone else’s call on his life instead of God’s. Razia’s influence helped the young man recalibrate and enter youth ministry himself.

Considering the meaning of the new CBH Urdu program, Razia points to Jesus first as the Living Water. She reflects, “Water is a sign of life, and wherever there is hope, a need of peace, and a need of love, there is Jesus. Wherever people are, in whatever country they belong, and whatever tribe is theirs, they need these things, and all three are found in the Person of Jesus Christ.”

How appropriate that CBH Urdu would launch on Easter Sunday 2022, then, since it offers this Living Water to its listeners who will access the broadcast from a wide variety of locations over the internet. “Jesus has risen and the tomb is empty!” Razia exclaims. “We were dead in our sins, but then Jesus brought new life to us. This is very important.”

Razia (pictured front, far right) celebrates the academic achievements of graduates in Pakistan.

And it’s hopeful, too, especially for a world marked by so much hopelessness. Samuel George, director of CBH Urdu, recognizes the vivid contrast and, therefore, the incredibly important mission on which they’re about to embark. He concludes, “We’re excited to reach out to all who are Urdu-speaking listeners with the message of love, faith, and Hope.”

Christians Broadcasting Hope also reaches around the world with the hope of Jesus in Arabic, Creole, English, French, Portuguese, Hindi, Odia, Spanish, and Swahili. CBH Urdu is the fruit of seed planted by generous donors who envisioned the greater possibilities, but each of the broadcasts are sustained by the support of givers across the Church of God movement.

To hear more of Razia’s story, listen to her interview with Global Strategy’s Andrew Gale for the second episode of Season 5 of the A World of Good podcast. Listen to Andrew’s interview with Samuel George, Episode 1 of Season 5.

Learn more about Christians Broadcasting Hope and each of its ten language broadcasts at www.christiansbroadcastinghope.org.

Feature (top) photo: Global Strategy director Andrew Gale interviews Razia Mushtaq for the A World of Good podcast.

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