For ten years, Zafar worked with a group of nuns among poor Christians in Johore Town, a suburb of Lahore. When the sisters opened a school in 1999, Zafar joined them as an enthusiastic teacher. He helped many children to study for their exams. Then suddenly in 2010 the sisters announced that the school was going to close due to lack of funds. It was a huge blow.
How could they abandon the children? What about their future? They would just become street urchins. Their parents were too poor to send them to private schools. In faith Zafar asked the sisters to give the school to him, which they happily did. The next morning Zafar and his wife Amna went to the Parish Priest and asked for help to run the school. He refused. He saw the obstacles, not the opportunity. Zafar did not give up. He went to the community elders and they gave him verbal support. With fresh enthusiasm Zafar hired two teachers, but when it was time to pay them, the community leader refused.
At that point, in desperation, Zafar and Amna decided to sell their wedding furniture – a big sacrifice anywhere in the world, but especially in the Pakistani culture. With this money, the school ran for one year in the church building. The parish priest had reluctantly allowed them to use it. However, finally they could no longer pay the teachers. For two years, Zafar and Amna struggled to carry on with some help from two volunteer teachers. They had 150 children, studying in groups on the church floor.
When all seemed lost, Zafar met Anser Javed, director of Starfish Pakistan.
In May 2013, Starfish Asia agreed to support the school. They have now taken a small rented building, already bursting at the seams. They have desks, books and whiteboards. More than 150 children from very poor families are coming to school eager to learn. They can see that this gives them hope of a life far better than their parents could ever have dreamed.
The school, a tribute to the persistence of one couple, is now named ‘Amazing Grace School’ a fitting name that also reflects God’s amazing love for the poor and destitute.