Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Faith, Hope, and Slavery: A Christian Family’s Struggle in Pakistan’s Brick Kilns

June 1, 2023 by Brian O. in Persecuted Christians in Pakistan

Their home, situated just beyond the view of the tall chimney from the kiln, is a small enclave with four rooms and a wide, uncovered porch. The open patio is for family meals and for animals: goats, calves and chickens. We sit for tea and to hear more about their story and faith. Their children and grandchildren scooch in close to listen to our conversation.  

Trapped in the kilns 

“The process of making bricks is a big challenge as it’s very heavy to transfer the clay through a handcart into the brick kiln,” Sayad says. 

For many brick kiln workers in Pakistan, this is part of everyday life—preparing the clay, carting the clay to the flats and shaping it into rows and rows of bricks ready for baking. It often starts at 4 a.m. The daily brick quota can range from 1,500 to 2,500 bricks per family. 

Sayad and Ruth started working in the kilns shortly after they were married and had children. As they expanded their family, costs quickly began to rise, and what they made for a living didn’t provide enough to support their children. That’s when they took their first loan—over fifty years ago.  

But working in the kilns isn’t an ordinary job. It’s a form of slavery.  

Sayad and Ruth wake up at 4 a.m. to begin their brick-making process.

Sayad and Ruth wake up at 4 a.m. to begin their brick-making process.

Brick kiln owners often entice impoverished families, many of them Christians, with loans to help them pay for food, medical help, weddings, or rent in hard times. With no other forms of income or support, these offers are challenging to pass up for those who are poor. But these loans are snares that keep families trapped. Their daily wages are garnished for interest, and the meager pay will likely keep them in slavery for decades—maybe even generations—unless something breaks the cycle.  

This is what the trap of bonded slavery looks like in Pakistan. The first loan is taken out of desperation, but the math never works out, and soon it’s discovered that these loans are a life sentence.  

“We’ve spent our whole lives here,” Sayad adds. “It’s impossible to pay off the loan from daily wages. After our death, our debt will be passed over to our children.”  

Sayad looks down at his hands, “Our children will have to pay off every penny.” 

Finding faith in trials  

Today, Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to follow Jesus. Christians in Pakistan are a small minority, making up only about 2% of the population. Yet, despite their small numbers, they have faced significant persecution. The government has also been criticized for failing to protect religious minorities and enforcing blasphemy laws that have been used to target Christians unfairly.    

Overall, life for Christians in Pakistan is challenging, Sayad shares. In many ways, Pakistan is a fortress for Islam. “The majority religion won’t give respectable jobs to educated Christians. They never want us to progress and try to keep us their slaves.” 

Sayad takes us on a tour of the brick kiln process and invites us to his home for tea.

Sayad takes us on a tour of the brick kiln process and invites us to his home for tea.

However, through it all, Sayad and Ruth’s faith has sustained them, and even though there is little hope in their current situation, they still believe God can rescue them. “Only Jesus Christ is the one who will hear our prayers. We pray to God. He’s the only one who can help us. We bow before Him and pray, ‘O God! Listen to us!’” 

It’s hard not to think about the Israelites who became slaves in Egypt, making bricks for the Pharoah: Sun, straw, clay. But, unfortunately, not a lot has changed in the process here.  

And the same thing is needed: deliverance.  

When we ask how we can pray for them, Sayad says, “Please pray that we may be able to pay off our debts so that we can live freely. Our lives have been destroyed living here and working in the kilns. When we die, our children will be in danger.”  

Sayad looks around the courtyard to assess his situation on a deeper level and says, “After 50 years, all we have is this loan.” 

But Sayad and Ruth’s faith still drives them to gratitude for all God has done for them. “In hard times, we must thank Him. God is the One who created us and put us here. So, we believe He will also take us out of these hard times.” 


Through our partners, GCR provides schools for the children in the brick kilns, vocational training for young adults, mobile medical relief—and debt relief for families entangled in bondage. We ask you to prayerfully give today to help Christians like Sayad and Ruth in Pakistan—as well as persecuted believers around the world who experience extreme persecution in countries like Burkina Faso, Turkey, India, North Korea, Afghanistan and many others.

About The Author
Brian O. is a staff writer for Global Christian Relief, a nonprofit Christian ministry that works to strengthen persecuted believers and raise awareness regarding Christian persecution. For more information, visit our website at