She is not asking Pope Francis for public appeals but for prayers. In the suffering of a life spent in prison, Asia Bibi bitterly mentions those who use her name to fulfil their own personal interests. The 44-year old Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan in 2009, has broken her silence and agreed to speak to Vatican Insider through Lahore’s “Renaissance Education Foundation” which is currently looking after her family and providing for legal assistance. The farm worker from rural Punjab ended up in prison over a cup of water, after a row she had with two Muslim women who made false accusations against her. Here she talks about her fourth Christmas behind bars, her life, her fears and hopes. Asia, who has been on death row for the past five years and is currently being detained in women's prison in Multan, still holds strongly onto the Bible and her profound faith, trusting more in God’s Providence than in the Pakistani justice system. Since the high court upheld her death sentence, Asia is patiently awaiting the result of the third and final stage of her appeal which has been filed with the Supreme Court. Hoping for her miraculous release.
Asia, how are you now and what are your conditions like in jail?
I’m in good health and I'm feeling good in Jesus’ name. How could my condition be in jail? They are taking care of me in prison; I believe it is because my story is now known on an international level.
How do you spend your days?
I start praying early in the morning, in the name of Jesus Christ. Then breakfast and cleaning my cell. I think about myself, my family, and I pray for them. Then lunch, a walk, dinner. Every single day, I end my day by giving thanks to my Christ who was with me all day long, before taking rest.
Do you read the Holy Bible daily? Is there a Bible verse you always repeat in your prayers?
Yes I do. The Holy Bible it is an important book for me. The Word of God encourages me and gives me comfort and light in dark times. I love praying with the words of Psalm 138: "Even when I must walk in the midst of danger, you revive me. You oppose my angry enemies, and your right hand delivers me. O Lord, your loyal love endures. Do not abandon those whom you have made”. So even in my hours of anguish, my heart finds peace.
What do you wish deep down when you think of your family?
My greatest wish and hope is to go back to my family, to be with my husband Ashiq and with my five children. I often think about them and I miss them so much, especially in these days, when everyone is going to celebrate Christmas.
How are you going to spend Christmas? What does Christmas mean for you today?
I hope that the birthday of Jesus Christ will bring happiness and freedom to my life and that it may bring peace to the world and especially in Pakistan. Christmas does not mean having a new dress, or just celebrating, dancing. Christmas means sharing your love with everyone who is in need. I am suffering because I have spent every Christmas for the past five years in jail, far away from my family. I hope and pray that all the Christians can spend Christmas with their loved ones. It is the most beautiful gift you can have.
What do you think about the appeal before the Supreme Court of Pakistan?
We submitted the appeal. I do believe in Jesus’ name: His powerful hand will give me freedom. I remember St. Peter: when he was in jail, the Holy Spirit came and opened the doors of the jail. For my release, I am expecting a miracle like that.
Which people and organizations are really helping you and your family?
I am thankful to all the people in the international community and in Christian countries, who are with me with their prayers and support. I ask all those who are misusing my name for their own benefit: please stop and leave me alone. I am thankful to the "Renaissance Education Foundation" who is always close to me and my family. Anyone wishing to help can do so through this Foundation.
What do you ask of God?
I ask God to please forgive all those who are misusing my name for their own benefit and to give me freedom soon.
What would you ask Pope Francis and all Christian people in the world?
I ask Pope Francis and all Christians in the world to please remember me in your prayers. I do believe that your prayers can help me so that one day I may again enjoy the precious gift of freedom. http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/inquiries-and-interviews/detail/articolo/asia-bibi-38174/