Extract from Mishal Francis, “Fire in My Heart: A Young Pakistani Woman Discovers Her Vocation” in Visions and Vocations:
For my last year at university, I moved to California for five months to work on a research project. Once again, there was the difficulty of adjusting to a new culture, but I was excited to discover a young adult group called RISE. Joining that community of young adults like myself helped me to feel at home. During our discussions, I spoke of my Pakistani background. I was flourishing in my engineering studies, but there was a fire in my heart to speak about Christians in Pakistan. My family and I had found safety in a new land, but many Christians in Pakistan still endured religious persecution and my love for the persecuted Church was intense and unwavering. I returned home and after my graduation in 2012, I took a gap year to discern my career path before applying for graduate engineering jobs.
That year, my father was made redundant from his engineering job due to his deteriorating health. It felt as if we both found ourselves discerning our future careers at the same time. I spoke to him about how strongly I felt about Christians in Pakistan, and I found out that my parents had been quietly supporting Christian families and some widows in Pakistan for all these years. This was a turning point for me. I knew that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me in a powerful way that I could not ignore. Christ was calling me to a mission: to be a voice for the voiceless, His persecuted church. That conversation with my father was the birth of Hope Human Development & Welfare Association (Hope HDWA). Our family established this charity in 2013 to support Christians in Pakistan who live in extreme conditions of poverty and persecution, and to provide education for children which encourages a harmonious and peaceful attitude towards others regardless of religious differences.