Urdu Pakistanis

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Immigrants from: Pakistan

Population in Australia: 87,000

Where in VIC: Coburg, Werribee, Broadmeadows, Casey, Dandenong.

Languages: Urdu, Punjabi

Religion: Islam

Christian witness: 0.8% evangelical in Australia

The Urdu langauge (Pakistan) is mutually intelligable with Hindi (India) and very similar to Punjabi. The Punjabi people span the border, living in both India and Pakistan. In simplified terms the Urdu are the Muslim Punjabs of Pakistan. Urdu is the national language of Pakistan, other non-Punjabs may be included in this national majority.

In Pakistan about 4% of Urdu speakers are Christians. The Christian churches in Pakistan date back to the 1870s. However, they have suffered much persecution. Most Urdu Christians are descendants of previous generations of the Christian minority. Not many are from a Muslim background. 

In Australia the number of Christians among the Urdu is even less. The reasons are complicated by the fact that once here they sometimes call themselves English or Punjabi speakers because the Urdu language has more association with Muslim identity. It is possible that the percentage of Christians is higher in Australia because persecution motivates emmigration. 

Urdu speakers have been immigrating to Australia since WW2 but only in significant numbers this century.  Many have come as students and skilled workers, and have succeeded in bringing out their families.

The Christian minority have found it difficult to reach out to their Muslim brothers for Christ. When relationships are strained sometimes it takes an outsider to make a change. 

The Urdu people need a witness of Jesus that does not threaten their identity. Christian catch phrases are not helpful. Ways can be found to rephrase the gospel, maintaining the same meaning but using terminology that will be understood and communicate the truth successfully.