Don't miss a story sign up to the North Devon Gazette's FREE daily newsletter CLICK HERE

Pastor fled persecution in Pakistan for new life in North Devon

PUBLISHED: 09:00 12 August 2017

Zahid and Mahreen Kenny with their children, Kendrick, 11, Renee six and Keith, five. They also have an eight-month-old baby girl, Rhea. Picture: Bronte Farenden.

Zahid and Mahreen Kenny with their children, Kendrick, 11, Renee six and Keith, five. They also have an eight-month-old baby girl, Rhea. Picture: Bronte Farenden.


Pastor Zahid Kenny, now living in Barnstaple, talks about how he was forced to flee his home in Pakistan in fear for his life.

A pastor who was forced to flee his home country fearing for his life following religious persecution has been granted residency in the UK.

Zahid Kenny, 36, a Christian pastor from Pakistan, arrived in the UK seeking asylum in October.

He has now settled in Barnstaple with his wife and four children, after the Home Office granted him a five-year residency.

He said: “About two years ago, we had to leave Pakistan to save our lives as a family.

“So as a result of that we were living in Bangkok but for us, going back to Pakistan every three months to renew our visas meant the threat was still there – it is still there.”

Zahid said he had three fatwa (religious rulings) on his head and could be killed at any time.

Prior to their request for permanent residency, Zahid, 36, and his wife Mahreen, 34, were invited to the UK to speak about their work as missionaries.

“We originally came on business visas – I was invited to speak at a conference back in 2014 and then two years later, my wife was also invited to speak about her work pioneering schools for slave children back in Pakistan,” he said.

However, due to the constantly changing visa policies in Thailand, combined with the imminent death threats in Pakistan, the family were forced to travel to the UK in search for safety.

Zahid told the Gazette: “I am very, very thankful to the Home Office for their decision.

“When we came, we travelled all around the UK – Scotland, Wales, the Midlands, London, and then we came here to North Devon and whenever we passed Barnstaple my wife said ‘oh, this looks like home’.”

Zahid became a Christian pastor after experiencing a difficult childhood as a street kid in Pakistan.

He said: “I started drinking at eight-and-a-half, I was a street kid selling drugs, doing drugs; and I got saved and became a Christian at the age of 14 in my school.

“My principal invited me to become a Christian and that changed my life, inside-out.”

Every Sunday, Zahid continues his pastoral work by preaching at different churches around the UK, including in North Devon.

Other News Stories

Yesterday, 17:00

Residents at Hillington in Ilfracombe are dismayed at news permission has been granted for a 40 foot telecommunications installation near their homes

Read more
Yesterday, 16:26

Accident between two vehicles took place shortly after 2.30pm this afternoon (Tuesday) between Bucks Cross and Higher Clovelly

Read more
Yesterday, 16:12

The hospice has been Devon FA’s charity partner throughout the 2016/17 season

Read more
Yesterday, 15:42

Appeal for witnesses or CCTV footage following the theft of 88 bales of hay from Limekiln Lane at Ashford

Read more
Yesterday, 15:00

A tercentenary celebration cruise onboard the Oldenburg to mark 300 years of English Freemasonry also raised £1,000 for North Devon Hospice

Read more
Yesterday, 12:24

Foodbanks in North Devon have run out of certain items of food, as demand peaks during the summer holidays for emergency food parcels.

Read more
Yesterday, 11:34

This year’s fair opening takes place on Wednesday, August 13.

Read more
Yesterday, 11:00

A planning application has been lodged to demolish a ‘beautiful’ manor house and turn it into holiday lodges - but villagers say the late owner never would have wanted this to happen. What do you think?

Read more
Yesterday, 09:00

A consultation on the North Devon Link Road has received over 500 responses - but it should be ‘fast-tracked’, says county councillor.

Read more
Yesterday, 07:19

Christopher Tonks was reported missing yesterday morning (Tuesday, August 15)

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 19°C

min temp: 12°C

Most Read News

Useful Links

Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Subscribe to the paper
North Devon Football League
Order Photos
Family notices
Google Plus Page
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Read Online

Read the North Devon Gazette e-edition E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Show Job Lists

Local business directory

North Devon's trusted business finder

Find planning applications