Esther John, Pakistani Martyr

January 22, 2014 at 4:19 pm

The Ten Martyrs of the Twentieth Century, above the Great Western Door, Westminster Abbey. The statue of Esther is third from the right.

Portrait of Esther John by G. S. Bell

Portrait of Esther John by G. S. Bell

Esther John was born into a Muslim family in South India in 1929. Named Qamar Zia, she grew up in Madras. Her father transferred her to a Christian school when she was seventeen, and there she saw the love of Christ in her teacher and came to understand the Good News through the scripture lessons. As a girl, she became a secret believer in Jesus Christ. She would read her Bible at night under the covers, using a flashlight.

“This girl was in love with your Christ.”

1947, her family moved to the newly formed country of Pakistan. When her family sought to compel her to accept an arranged Muslim marriage, she fled to Karachi, where she worked in a orphanage. In 1955, she was baptized, taking the name Esther John. Her fellow Christians recognized her gift and call as an evangelist, and she attended the Bible Training Center in Gujranawala.

She eventually came to live with the Whites, an experienced missionary couple. Esther often  rode her bicycle out to the villages to visit people in their homes and in the fields, teaching the Christian faith to women and girls. Everyone loved her. One morning, Mrs. White called Esther to breakfast. “Esther, your breakfast is ready,” but there was no answer.

She found Esther lying on her bed with her head smashed in. The police inspector thought  such a brutal murder must have been a crime of passion, and operated on the assumption that Esther must have had a lover. He carefully read her diary and all her letters, and at last announced, “Esther did indeed have a lover. It was a man named Jesus.” Later, he added, “This girl was in love with your Christ.”

In 1998, the Archbishop of Canterbury unveiled her statue, along with those of nine others in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth at Westminster Abbey.
Esther John
esther scan


  • Nairy O

    Excellently written, so inspiring to hear a true love story! Beautiful portrait; I can feel her intensity, focus, and humility in her face. The rich color of the background is really nice for this portrait.

  • Chaman Nadeem

    It is great and excelent testimony of faith . I live in sity Sahiwal. A Chapel is construsted by her name and her Picture is hanging on left side ond enternce .
    Glory be to HIM.

    Chaman Nadeem

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