Categories
Stories

Pray for the Persecuted 2020: Bangladesh & Bhutan

This fourth weekend of November, we once again share the wisdom of some of our country leaders on persecution, building on the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on November 1st. This week, Pastor Darpan* who leads our Bangladesh ministry and Pastor Jagan* who leads the ministry in Bhutan give their insight.

Open Doors ranks Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority country, as 31st on the World Watch List, which lists the top 50 countries with the greatest persecution of Christians. Read more here

In our pastors’ and missionaries’ experience, persecution primarily comes on a local level and not from the government. Physical and emotional attacks most often come from family and community members when a Muslim, Hindu, or Animist begins following Jesus. For the men and women we support, persecution is more common for them than other Christians in the country because they are openly sharing the Gospel as pastors and missionaries.

Pastor Darpan*, a humble and kind servant of God, oversees a Bangladeshi network of over fifty pastors and dozens more missionaries. He says,

“In general, persecution is happening or has come here mostly from the Muslim extremists, a very few times from Hindus, and also in very rare cases by others. According to their religious thoughts and thinking, they are prideful and arrogant, not honoring others who they cannot tolerate. The extremist Muslim believers are trying to stop others, dominating their religious power everywhere. The pride and jealousy of the extremists makes them do bad works and persecute. They hate Jesus/Christians and do not want Christianity to rise here because of their arrogance. They are afraid of Christians, that if the Christian religion exists beside them, then their believers’ numbers will be reduced. They believe Muslim faith is the best out of all religions. This motivates them.

According to our mission to implement the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, we prioritize verse 20, to teach, make disciples and baptize. But because of our country and communities, I always encourage them to be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves according to Matthew 10:16, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” So, maintaining our own safety first is most essential, and then approach with kindness and love…

Pastor Akash*, who I work with, shares what he and another missionary, Sukesh*, experienced last month, which shows this:

“In this pandemic situation, Mr. Sukesh and I went out three or four times a week. In this area, extremists (Muslim) people were watching us and our activities. One day, suddenly, when we were returning to our home, some of the old Muslim people questioned us about where we are returning from. We told them that we were returning from a nearby remote town. When they checked our bags, they found some Bible tracts, small Gospel flipcharts, and a small Bible. They said we had not told the truth to them. They asked us if these were our evangelical tools or materials we have taken to preach. Then, we told them “Yes, but we preached amongst our believers. So, what is it to you?” Very suddenly, one of the aged men slapped us and chased us from there.

After a month, when we were going out in the morning to another village by bicycle, one of the old extremists found and called us with a loving voice. Just as before, we went to him. That man begged pardon because of their act a month ago, saying it was totally inhuman and unreasonable, and illogical. Because of this, his heart was burning to beg pardon from us.

We became shocked to hear about this. As an aged man, we told him that the Christian religion is to forgive like our Lord Jesus who forgave all our sins, and to bow our hearts in surrender, and then Jesus is almighty to forgive. And we are here to teach all the people about my Jesus. Now that man has become our good guardian and friend. Thanks to the Lord, and we are thankful for His love.”

We are thankful to the Lord, and also for our prayer fighters who have been praying continuously for safety for our brothers and sisters who are facing persecution. Endure to see His face. We would like to say to continue your powerful prayers, which are our only strength.”

Open Doors puts Bhutan, a tiny Buddhist Kingdom in the Himalayas, at 45th on its list. You can read their summary here

Although persecution is not often physical, pressure from the government and police leads to believers often being refused land rights, being taken to prison overnight, and having their children’s names taken off the census, rendering them unabl to access basic services. Pastor Jagan* leads a group of nearly 30 Bhutanese pastors and missionaries partially supported by Harvest Bridge. He reflects,

“The reason for persecution here is not hate of Jesus. No. To the core they don’t want to lose their identity of their culture, which is interconnected with their religion. In terms of Bhutanese culture, it is notable that their culture is their religion and their religion is their culture.

As a leader to persecuted believers, I pray to God who is the only person who can bring solutions for all the problems, I teach them to depend more and more on God than people. To keep moving forward with God. 

‘Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.’ ~ Philippians 3:13-14

Recently, one of my pastors, Pastor Phurba*, shared how God changed a strong Buddhist’s heart.

“One of the villagers in the southwest, Biren*, age 45 and from a staunch Buddhist background, was harassing us all the time whenever we go for ministry. He was bullying us as ‘foreign agents coming with a bag full of money’. We started praying for this gentleman, for God to touch him and bring him into His saving knowledge. On August 23, 2020 as we went for visiting, he invited us to his home. We were filled with much fear and went to his home to find out what kind of issue he had with us. Interestingly, without saying much he requested us to pray for his family, and we prayed for the blessings of the family. He described his encounter with Jesus through his dreams, and that he confessed Jesus is the only living God. Praise God for the way God moved into this gentleman’s heart.”

Pastor Kibu* experienced this too:

“We always used to fear our neighbors, as they always have complained about our singing and many people coming to the house. We went through much harassment. But in the month of April when the lockdown was intensive, we prayed and got strengthened to sing and share the Gospel to the neighbors. Many of our neighbors were regretting complaining about us to the authorities, as they realized that we are praying for our neighbors regularly. A bond of love among the neighbors got developed in this period.”

Being persecuted for faith will be rewarded with church growth, as well as motivation to become much stronger in the Lord. But Christians who are facing opposition for other reasons [other than for faith] are motivated by their self interest, and they need to seek the guidance of God for all that they do.

Please pray for favorable conditions for having at least a house fellowship [which is illegal]. Pray for doors to be open for confessing the faith. Pray for religious freedom to practice and propagate.”

Thank you for reading, for supporting financially, and for praying!

Next week, on the last weekend of November, we will share from two leaders in Kashmir. 

*Names changed for safety

Categories
Countries

Bangladesh

Bangladesh

Bangladesh, a country bordered by India on three sides and the Bay of Bengal on its southern coast, is a country rarely discussed on the world stage. However, with over 160 million people, it is the eighth-most populous country in the world, the most densely populated non-city state, and the fourth most populous Muslim country. 

We come alongside 51 Bangladeshi men and women who are reaching their country with the love of Jesus. Often while facing persecution for their faith, they focus on child protection, anti-human trafficking work, education programs, disaster relief, evangelism, discipleship, and church planting. 

In 2020, in addition to over 1,000 families receiving life-saving aid in the midst of COVID-19 lockdowns and flooding, 22 children were sponsored so they could continue living with their parents or grandparents instead of being forced by poverty into an orphanage. Seven widows received micro-investments to help them provide for themselves during the economic crisis. Seven pastors were equipped with motorbikes, and many others received ministry tools. 1,190 men and women began following Jesus, 383 were baptized, and five churches were planted. 

Capital: Dhaka

Population: 165 million

Religion: Muslim 90.5%, Hindu 8.5%, 0.6% Buddhist, 0.4% Christian

Persecution Watch List Country Ranking: 31

Ministries: Pastor TrainingChildren’s MinistryHope Through EducationDisaster Relief

Leadership Information: Our leader in Bangladesh is the founder of a local mission organization that planted 29 churches and baptized over 3,200 new followers of Jesus in just seven years. He has served in leadership with several other international NGOs, gaining experience in missions and finance.

Give directly to our Bangladesh fund:

Categories
Stories

Good, Hard Work

Chara* has rescued hundreds of children from human trafficking in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, home to nearly 20 million people. 

Chara has raised two strong, smart, Jesus-loving daughters. She and her husband have shared the Gospel with countless people, with many turning to Christ and being discipled. She and her family have experienced God’s work in their lives and ministries in tremendous, sometimes miraculous ways. She is exceptionally strong, loving, and obedient to the Lord.

In December, I held Chara in my arms as she shook from uncontrollable and much-needed sobs.

Bakul*, her husband and one of the missionaries you support, suffered a minor stroke two years ago and a more serious one a few months ago. The once-passionate and friendly man I’ve known for the past four years can hardly speak. He cannot smile, lift his Bible, or hug his family. Chara and their daughters, Nalinda* and Tanhi*, who are both in college, care for him around the clock.

Still, with joy and faith, Chara has continued her work of rescuing children, and has tried to keep up the evangelism and discipleship her husband can no longer do. She loves this work. But she is also exhausted, worried, heartbroken, and fearful.

A week before Christmas, for the better part of an hour, while holding tightly to Bakul’s hand, she shared all of this and we sobbed and cried out in prayer together.

This is the reality of following Jesus and choosing to serve him in the most difficult of circumstances. 

The heart of Harvest Bridge is coming alongside South Asian believers who have done much with little, and helping them reach their people with the Gospel most effectively. 

Oftentimes, the “little” is not simply little money. It’s little encouragement, little rest, little training, little supportive prayer that they’ve done much with. We strive to come alongside them in all these areas, not just financially. 

For decades Chara and Bakul have chosen to do the hard, thankless, and unpublicized work of loving like Jesus. Saving children from horror, sharing the Gospel, and discipling people. They’ve done the long-term work of entering into others’ pain on a daily basis and sharing Jesus’ love while experiencing persecution, putting themselves in danger, living in poverty, and having seasons with little or no visible results of their ministry.

God absolutely gives grace. He has walked through this with them, blessed the work of their hands, and given them peace and joy unmatched. But Chara, Bakul, Nalinda, and Tanhi are not meant to walk alone. None of us are. 

God established the Body of Christ and the institution of the church for a reason.

As Christians, we have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters around the world – to pray for them, to comfort and encourage, to share our talents and our wealth with them. We are meant to be the hands and feet of Jesus to one another, so that we are filled up to bring the love of Jesus to those outside the church.

This year, through you, we will help Chara and her two daughters build a self-sustaining business that can support them long-term. This will allow Chara to do the ministry God has given her a heart for, but also to take a step back for a season and care for Bakul as he continues to heal – as they all heal.

Will you pray for Chara, her family, and all of those choosing to continue ministering in the hardest of circumstances? 

In February, our new monthly prayer calendar will be online. Each day, as you pray and praise God for these men and women, you are being the hands and feet of Jesus to them. Your role is vital. 

View Our February Prayer Calendar

Thank you and Happy New Year!

Kate Therese, 

Executive Director 

*Names changed for safety

Categories
Stories

Eden’s Children

We had entered another world – a small Bangladeshi village surrounded like an island by a sea of flooded rice paddies.

Nine years ago, Santali tribal people migrated here, determined to build a better life. Although they earn less than a dollar a day working in the fields, they have built a good life. They divided the “island” into lots, built mud houses, planted gardens, acquired livestock, and even built a church for their 170 members! 

By international standards, this community is extremely poor; yet when I visited last month, it reminded my companions and me of the Garden of Eden because of the great natural beauty, the proximity of the people to the land and animals, and the subtropical climate. 

I felt happy for the people there and admired what they had accomplished with so little.

We were welcomed in the village with songs and dances to the beat of drums, then the village gathered in church to present its only request: could Harvest Bridge help give their children a basic education? 

The parents knew that if their children reached adulthood without learning the national language, Bengali, and receiving at least a primary school education, they would have no job prospects except insecure day labor at unlivable wages. Though uneducated themselves, the adults realize that the world is changing and that their children will need an education to flourish. 

They are right: farm machinery will increasingly displace unskilled labor. It broke my heart to think of what might become of these children as they approach adulthood. 

Would they, like so many youth in developing countries, migrate to big cities looking for work? 

How would teenagers raised in this idyllic rural village fare in the polluted slums of Dhaka, one of the most congested places in the world? 

What work, if any, could they find without a primary-level education or even a knowledge of the language?

Other villages have also asked us to help educate their children. 

There is no one-size-fits all solution. Sometimes there is a public school nearby, which the children could attend if they are first taught Bengali. For other villages, the parents need help advancing economically so they can afford the school fees. In some cases, we might be able to find another NGO to serve the community.

The people of these villages are industrious and deserving, and the need is real, but what should Harvest Bridge’s role be? 

Although it might appear that Harvest Bridge does many things, we actually do only one: we equip local Christian ministries to do more than they could otherwise. Our impact is diverse because our local partners and their ministries are diverse. 

Our ability to help these children depends on having the right local leaders and the needed resources. In the case of the village among the rice paddies, we already have the leadership we need. Our ability to help depends on having the needed funds.

Thank you for supporting Harvest Bridge as we reach remote places with Christ’s love! 

If you are able to help these villages educate their children, please make a special donation below, or by check to our Bangladesh Education Fund. 

We will help our local partners leverage your support to provide a better future for these kids.

Thank you!

In Christ,

Timothy M., President

Categories
Stories

See a Need and Meet it

“If you can’t help 100 people, then just feed one.” ~ Mother Teresa

In January I spent time with two indigenous missionaries in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital of 19 million people and the fastest-growing, most densely populated city in the world. One missionary was a 28-year old single man, Raj*, the other, a middle-aged woman who is married with children, Saroj*. Great things have come from this unlikely pairing.

They were introduced by our Bangladesh director a few years ago, and they realized they both had a God-given burden, willingness, and availability to protect children from trafficking. 

Saroj and Raj saw a need and decided to meet it. 

Simply defined, human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to control victims for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or labor services against their will.

Together, and with no help except for the modest monthly support they receive from us, Raj and Saroj rescue children, both girls and boys, from train and bus stations where many children are trafficked through. Depending on the situation – why the child was trafficked, their age, if the child knows where they came from, if they have physical injuries – these two help bring them back to their families or settle them in trusted children’s homes.

In the last few years, Saroj and Raj have rescued over 70 children, sometimes with help from the police but mostly on their own. And they continue to have a relationship with many of the children. Raj regularly visits the children, reading to them, playing with them, and advocating for them.

As the eighth most populated country in the world with about 165 million people, and bordering India and Myanmar (Burma) – two other hot spots for trafficking – Bangladesh has both a large supply and large demand for vulnerable women, children, and men. Children are particularly vulnerable; typically, they are kidnapped, or traffickers convince impoverished families to send their children with them with a promise of well-paying work and a better life for the child.

As a 2015 article observes, “In Bangladesh, human trafficking is one of the most money-making forms of illegitimate enterprise. The high profit, as well as the low penalty nature of human trafficking business, has made it more attractive to traffickers (criminal gangs) and as well as very large-scale organized crime in Bangladesh.” 

With trafficking being such a lucrative business, directly rescuing children out of it is highly dangerous and difficult.

This is exactly what Raj and Saroj are doing.

Both bear physical scars of being attacked by pimps and traffickers. 

When I hugged Saroj in January, I could see a fresh wound on her head from being hit with a glass bottle by a trafficker. Traffickers regularly come to threaten Saroj and her family at home, and last month she went to jail for three days because one of the traffickers was a relative of a powerful and corrupt man in Dhaka. 

When I met him, Raj had recently been attacked by a large group, intent on protecting their commodity – children. He has since continued to be beaten regularly. 

Neither Raj nor Saroj has any intention of stopping their work, regardless of the cost. As our Bangladesh director has observed, “Saroj is overlooking this browbeating and she and Raj are still continuing in the name of Jesus.” 

The tears in their voices as they spoke to me about vulnerable children reflected this commitment. As did their humility as they shared, “We saw these children and nothing was being done. So we had to do something. But we want to know how to do it better. We need to be trained to rescue and care for these children better.”

Speaking to them this week, Saroj and Raj shared clear prayer requests. They want to either start or, if one already exists, work with a shelter home specifically for children who have been traumatized by trafficking. Along with this, they want to both educate vulnerable children on the dangers and signs of trafficking, and teach them how to advocate for themselves. 

They are passionate about giving children a voice. 

Harvest Bridge is currently working to partner with other organizations who can help Raj and Saroj with their vision. We would deeply appreciate your prayers in this as well. 

Speaking about human trafficking is disturbing because it shines a light on almost unimaginable suffering. The horrors of trafficking are real. Horrors that many of us are not willing to enter into mentally, let alone physically. Yet there are people addressing these issues, and they are usually locals who don’t stop to broadcast their good work. They just do it. 

As we find these people, let’s celebrate them, emulate them, and join them in any way we can!

As followers of Christ, we have the same Holy Spirit as the disciples, as Paul, as Raj and Saroj. Let us, like them, rely on this power and simply be available to be used by God.

Harvest Bridge’s mission is to come alongside indigenous Christians to holistically advance God’s kingdom. By supporting us, you specifically support Raj and Saroj, but also many other men and women like them. 

Thank you!

In Christ, 

Kate Therese, Director of Mobilization

*Names changed for safety

Categories
Stories

Kingdom Couples

Dear Friends,

In light of Valentine’s Day, this newsletter is dedicated to the missionary couples Harvest Bridge has the privilege of partnering with. 

These members of our Christian family serve Jesus together in difficult places; as couples, their ministries complement one another and facilitate deeper impact in their communities.

Sunil* and Premila* are a perfect example. Married as teenagers without the permission of their families, they lost their first child to disease and began following Christ after their second child was miraculously healed from the same disease. 

For the past 17 years, they’ve been doing ministry together in Nepal. Whether serving those affected by an earthquake, conducting marriage counseling, evangelizing an unreached village or working part-time jobs to support their ministry, they follow the command to love God first and love their neighbors as themselves.

Then there’s Raju*, the coordinator of our Bhutanese church planters, and his wife Divya*. Born in southern India, they met while attending Bible college in Bangalore. 

In 2000, after graduating and marrying, they moved to an underdeveloped region at the India-Bhutan border to focus on reaching Bhutan, one of the least-evangelized countries in the world. 

In pursuit of this goal, Divya had the idea of starting a school, both to educate children and to support the ministry. Today, the Christian school they started has over 400 Bhutanese, Indian, Nepali, and Bangladeshi children, of Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian faiths, all learning together. 

Largely due to Divya and Raju’s efforts, it is now common in their town for girls to attend school, when just 10 years ago it was almost unheard of. 

Raju and Divya’s marriage, and their efforts to promote women and girls’ education, are models for women’s empowerment in a society that largely treats women as second-class citizens.

Last but certainly not least, we can’t highlight missionary couples without sharing the story of Mamun* and Tabitha* in Bangladesh. 

In nearly 30 years of ministry together, they’ve faced much persecution – beatings, stalking, death threats – but nothing compares to the rape of their 14 year-old daughter, Anna*. Her assailants, a group of six extremists, made it clear they were assaulting her because of her parents’ ministry. 

Thankfully, Anna received extensive medical help through an HB partner agency and has recovered physically. It would be wholly reasonable to leave the community where this horrific act occurred, but Mamun and Tabitha have chosen to stay and continue serving as Christ’s ambassadors among those who do not know Him. 

As they describe, 

“We pass every day with this threat, but we believe in Jesus – that He will save us – because the Lord is our strength, and we are depending on that.”

Thank you for standing with these couples, and dozens of other couples like them in Harvest Bridge’s network, through your prayers and financial support!

In Christ,

Andrew David

Director of International Partnerships

*Names changed and faces blurred for security

Categories
Stories

Growing Danger in Bangladesh

Dear Friends,                                                                                                                 

Earlier this month, a friend told me about a severe case of school bullying. She asked how the school could tolerate a culture in which this could occur. A good question! 

Severe bullying and school violence can occur anywhere, but they are more likely to occur where lower-level bullying is tolerated. This applies not only to schools but to entire nations. 

Consider the recent terrorist violence in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Some commentators portrayed this as an unprecedented event in what they called a tolerant nation. 

In reality, the Dhaka attacks were conducted by radical Bangladeshis who grew up in a society that routinely overlooks the abuse of religious minorities. 

We have been trying to bring attention to this abuse for several years. Our longer-term readers will recall two occasions when we have dug wells because villages prohibited Christian families from using public water. 

In addition, we have written about pastors who were beaten and framed for murder, and about how extremists raped a pastor’s daughter in retaliation for his preaching.

In all these cases, local police and moderate Muslim leaders didn’t intervene even though the perpetrators were known. 

It is more expedient for them to look the other way than to confront fellow Muslims to uphold the rights of minority Christians, who comprise less than 0.5% of the population. 

As long as it predominantly targeted the poor and powerless, religious violence was regularly overlooked. 

But hatred is like fire; when not constrained, it grows and puts more and more people in jeopardy. 

The recent attack, which targeted affluent people of various nationalities and religions, demonstrated that ultimately no one will be safe if bigotry and hatred are left unchecked. 

Civil authorities have taken notice and are beginning to take the persecution of Christians and other minorities seriously. Recently, the police in Dhaka recommended that churches build high walls, install video cameras, and hire 24-hour guards. Our ministry partners are genuinely pleased that the police want to work closely with them to reduce violence.

Notwithstanding, there is a cost. Only large, established churches can afford a high wall, the video system and 24-hour security guards, so these steps effectively assess a tax on churches that many cannot afford. 

It remains to be seen whether these steps will be required of churches that do not have buildings, but meet outdoors or in homes. Also, these defenses make churches less welcoming both to members and visitors.

I fear that these steps have been a victory for terrorists because they confine Christian worship behind locked gates. This is painfully ironic. 

Jesus told us that the Church would overcome the gates of hell – not hide behind gates of its own.

Please pray for the people of Bangladesh – for extremism to be overcome, and for the rights of religious minorities to be upheld. Please pray, in particular, for our partners. They have been targets of hatred for a long time, and the Dhaka attack has emboldened extremist elements all over Bangladesh. Our partners are in greater danger than ever. 

Please pray that Christians will take prudent steps to keep safe, without shackling the Gospel.

Pray also for the United States. Pray that we will not harbor hatred or deprive any group its rights. Please pray, as well, that our government’s measures to prevent terror will not inadvertently go too far and further diminish our liberties. If this happens, terrorists will win a victory.

Many blessings in Christ,                                             

Tim M.,

President

Categories
Stories

The Joy of Tusher

Last June, I stepped into a village in Bangladesh whose residents, until they met me, didn’t know white people existed.

At the time, over 175 people from animist and Hindu backgrounds had been discipled in the Christian faith for several months, and were ready to be baptized. They received the Gospel through three lay Bangladeshi pastors, who Harvest Bridge has the privilege to support. 

In August, the baptism was held. Among those baptized was a 97-year old man, Tusher*, who had been an animist all his life and was an elder in the village.

The pastor told him he didn’t have to come all the way into the pond to be baptized, but Tusher insisted. He said, “No, I will be baptized with my people. I want people to see that I serve Jesus now”. 

In many parts of South Asia, baptism is seen both by Christians and non-believers as the final break with one’s former religion. As such, our partners in Bangladesh do not baptize anyone until they’ve been discipled in the faith for at least three to six months. They want the gravity of this decision to be fully understood.

So, local Muslim leaders knew they had permanently lost these 175 villagers to Christ.

In the following weeks, all those who had been baptized were refused water by Muslims in their community. Men were assigned to watch the communal well and attack any Christian who came near. 

Families either had to drink from filthy pond water, or walk miles to collect clean water. The area where they went to collect water was also unfriendly to Christians, and especially dangerous for the women. 

We immediately reached out to The Voice of the Martyrs, who responded quickly with a grant. By the beginning of October, a new well was in place, set next to a thatched home that doubles as a church. 

This time, the well was not attacked, and these brothers and sisters began sharing the water with other marginalized people in their area.

In April, I stepped back into this village. 

I cannot express what was going on in my heart as I was welcomed by a traditional cultural dance, complete with drums, gorgeous dresses, and confetti. 

97-year old Tusher was at the front, singing and dancing with pure joy all the way down the dirt road to that thatched house church. 

It was a beautiful reminder of how Christianity does not undermine cultures, but enhances them. Tusher hadn’t been taught to give up his culture – his clothing or food or music – in order to follow Christ. 

No, what he gave up was guilt. He gave up almost a century of striving to please idols, of worrying that the crops weren’t growing because he hadn’t fulfilled a ritual, of wondering what would happen after he died. 

What he gained was joy. Absolutely breathtaking joy. The joy that comes from knowing you are free. Free from sin and death, and fully known and loved by the Father. 

As I sat in that church, covered in sweat and confetti and holding a precious newborn, I couldn’t keep from crying. These new believers have faced so much more opposition in a year than I have in my entire life. 

We worshiped with and prayed over each other. I held back tears as I told them how much their story had impacted me, and how incredibly humbled I was to be their sister.  

This congregation, and especially Tusher, has shared their joy with others.

Over 60 more believers will be baptized next month from that village. 60! And they know what they’re getting into.

They know this is the last break with their old religion. They know persecution is coming. They just saw the first 175 believers go through it. And they know that isn’t going to be the end of it. More challenges will come. 

Yet, they have the Hope of Christ. They have His joy. 

What an incredible privilege that you and I get to call them our brothers and sisters.    

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it ~ 1 Corinthians 12:26

Categories
Stories

Stories from Bangladesh

Be encouraged. God is at work! 

During a time of violent political turmoil in Bangladesh, in the last six months our 35 church planters in Bangladesh shared the gospel with 5,531 individuals, saw 1754 people accept Christ, and baptized 689 of those men and women!

We would like to share just a few stories of joy and encouragement, along with prayer requests, from these indigenous church planters in Bangladesh.

  • “In this duration we passed a good time in the Lord, because when people are destructive, then I understand that the Lord wants us to glorify Him. So, I always praise His name.”~Martha*
  • “The Lord helped us set up a church/fellowship in Christ in a Muslim village, where we baptized in Jesus’ name 88 men and women by water. We then had the idea from Christ about when and how we could prepare a church building for worship. The Lord helped us and gave the heart for Him to every believer that they would not wait and depend on foreign money to build this church building…. According to our thinking we started depositing money, as much as we all could, in very small amounts. Over some time it became 40,000 Taka (about $515), but we had no land to build on. One day an elder told us that he would give the land for the church, and then others told us they would give their labor for the Lord. They prepared a mud, and tin shed church house for the Lord, and now they are worshiping Christ in this house. Praise the Lord for giving us a heart for Him. So we are so thankful to the Lord that we have very good and soft hearted men and women, which is totally His miracle and blessing through this church!”~Samuel*
  • “I go to illiterate Tribal and Muslim areas to preach the Gospel. Some Muslim people became very angry and tried to stop us by threatening to throw hard clay at us and insult us. They are concerned that Muslim numbers are decreasing and Christian numbers are rising. I am concerned for these people to become educated, especially their children. Pastor Daniel* advised us to ‘shake the dust off our feet’ and leave the place; we did this, but we are still praying for them…”~Timothy*
  • “We are still alive, which is a miracle to me because of what has been happening in the present situation in Bangladesh. Everyday, people are dying, and cars, buses, houses, and shops are burning, and it has been continuing for many long days. So, without the Lord’s blessing, we could not be alive, and this is a miracle to me.”~Daniel*
  • “My husband and I preach together. A Muslim family, our neighbors, would observe us having prayer every day. They noticed that we were not just praying for ourselves, but for others. They asked us why we are mainly praying for others, because as Muslims they usually only prayed for themselves. We said, “Because we love you, because you are our neighbors, and because you have not heard the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This softened their hearts. The woman then asked us to pray for her husband’s alcoholic habits to change. Following prayer, the husband’s behavior was changed, and the whole family accepted Christ and is waiting to take baptism.”~ Mary*
  • “Pray for former Muslims who are waiting for baptism. Baptism is the final break from Islam in the eyes of their community and family.” ~Titus*

*Names Changed for Safety

Categories
Stories

You Must Have Faith

Elijah*, in Bangladesh, recounts the testimony of a family of new believers. 

“In the last months, I with my team have been sharing the Gospel while also teaching on subjects like agriculture to Tribal…and Hindu day laborers who were selling their labor to a Muslim landowner.

[One day] we were sharing how faith can move mountains, from Matthew 21:21-22. The laborers heard this, but were astonished, and the Muslim land owner, Aamil*, was also disbelieving. 

He told us that prayer could not have that kind of power, and that we should not tell stories like this. After some conversation, we left that place to go back home.

Three months later, we met Aamil at a grocery bazaar, and he began sharing his family problems with us. His daughter Sabihah* had been attending college, but had begun suffering from an internal illness, and that no one had been able to treat her. 

He told us that his daughter’s classmates had told them that prayer could heal her. But when the family tried it, nothing happened.

We were very happy to hear this, but we explained that for the prayer to work, they must have faith, in the same way we had shared about before. We reminded Aamil of how he had made fun of faith before, but told him that we would be happy to pray…and that he must first have faith and believe on Jesus….

So, he made this decision and we five members went to his home that evening to pray for his daughter. 

Sabihah already had a New Testament that one of her classmates gave her, and she had studied some of the chapters. She had learned a lot about Jesus and His salvation by studying the Bible, and had already become a Christian. Then we asked Aamil if we could pray over her. We prayed for her, and for the whole family. 

Now Sabihah gets better every day! The whole family has now been changed by Christ, even their neighbors have been changed! They believe that everyone around them will come to Jesus very soon

So praise the Lord for His power to change this Muslim land owner, and for healing his daughter!”

Jim Elliot’s words resonate here. This formerly Muslim family, and so many others in Bangladesh, are giving up that which they cannot keep – safety and comfort – to gain what they cannot lose – Jesus Christ.

They will face persecution, they will experience joy in Christ. 

Join us in praying for our new brothers and sisters in Christ. Will you stand with us in prayer as they take the step of baptism, publicly proclaiming their trust in Jesus Christ?
*Names changed for safety