Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi, who spent nearly a decade on death row after being falsely accused of blasphemy against Islam, wants to be a voice of hope for other persecuted Christians.
As CBN News has reported, Bibi was convicted and sentenced in 2010 after a coworker accused her of insulting Islam after a dispute. Blasphemy is a crime punishable by death in Pakistan.
The 50-year-old addressed the International Religious Freedom Summit last Wednesday via video message, thanking God for her freedom and acknowledging those who prayed for her while she was imprisoned.
Now safe in Canada, Asia Bibi said that she "wants to be a voice for Christian people, Christians in prison, and in difficulties." https://t.co/Z8HYlIKv8K
— Catholic News Agency (@cnalive) July 14, 2021
"From the bottom of my heart I am very thankful to the Lord, who has rescued me from my sufferings and difficulties," she said. "He has given me a fresh start and the opportunity to start a new life with my family."
Bibi added that she "wants to be a voice for Christian people, Christians in prison, and in difficulties."
She recalled how her faith overshadowed her fear.
"When I was in prison, I was very worried about my children and husband. I was not aware where they were and whether they were safe or not. At the same time, I had a hope in the Lord," Bibi explained. "Thanks to all of the brothers and sisters who prayed and fasted. Because of their prayers, I am now free."
Bibi has previously shared a remarkable story about an encounter with a bird that would routinely visit her when she was in her darkest moments in prison. She believed the bird was a message from God as a means to strengthen her faith.
"There is a beautiful thing that happens every day in my cell," she explained. "Two days after they announced my death penalty, I was brought into (death row). Every morning around 3:30 or 4, a brown bird with a long beak appears and sits on the boundary wall. This bird also comes every evening around 5. He sits there for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening. Later on, he became my friend. I talk to him and he also talks to me."
She continued, "As I watched this bird every day, I tried to understand the meaning of him coming day after day. I think this is a messenger from God giving me His message. When the bird comes, I feel encouraged and peaceful. I feel comforted after his visit. I think this is a very significant sign from God."
Even though she was awaiting death in her cell, the bird brought her comfort and a glimmer of hope, just like God sent ravens to minister to Elijah when he was hiding from those who wanted to kill him.
The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening and would drink from the brook (1 Kings 17:6).
Ultimately Bibi was acquitted of the crime by the Pakistan Supreme Court but then was kept from leaving the country by officials even after a final bid from hardline Islamists to have her acquittal overturned was rejected.
Radical Muslims in Pakistan were outraged by the acquittal and threatened to murder her. Tens of thousands rallied in the streets and called for her death.
She was finally was able to leave Pakistan in May of 2019 and was reunited with her daughters in Canada.
During the summit, Bibi pointed out that her "Christian brothers and sisters worked very hard for my freedom," and said she is "very thankful to everyone from the bottom of my heart."
"Let us join hands and stand together so we can be a voice for our Christian brothers and sisters who are suffering, and help them out of their situations," she said. "Like the Lord did for me."
In Feb. 2020, Bibi released a book about her years in prison titled, Finally Free.
In her new book, she writes about the daily persecution suffered by Pakistan's Christian minority and gives an account of the demeaning and appalling conditions in the prison where she was confined.