Bangladesh: Chakma Christians not wanted

Source:              www.MNNonline.org

Date:                  January 23, 2015

 

FMI_chakmachurch

The Chakma Christians
(Photo courtesy of Forgotten Ministries International)

Bangladesh (MNN) — There’s a tribe in Bangladesh whose theme is isolation. Holding strongly onto Buddhism, the Chakma people have violently separated themselves from the otherwise Muslim-dominant country. But what happens when one of their own opens up their heart to the saving truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection?

This tiny restricted area–part of the Iowa-sized country of Bangladesh–cannot be accessed without special government permission. It’s impossible for a foreign missionary to have any sort of effective ministry there. Therefore, it’s a perfect area of ministry for Forgotten Missionaries International.

“We don’t send people from here to become missionaries there. We are empowering the local believers, the national indigenous believers, to do the church planting, the evangelism, to own the ministry of church leadership,” says Bruce Allen of FMI.

He shares an important prayer need for a congregation of Christians in one Chakma village.

One of the church planters who has outreaches to three different villages was approached by the tribal leaders of his primary village.

Allen explains, “The village leaders, just days ago, told the Christians that they needed to leave the village: they were no longer welcome. This congregation is part of the Chakma tribe which is a little bit of an anomaly in Bangladesh.”

Again, the Chakma people are Buddhist while Bangladesh exists as the third-largest Muslim-dominant country in the world.

Despite their steep history of Buddhism (catch up on the Chakma background here), there has been a great movement in the last few years.

“The Gospel had come into several Chakma villages and [is] changing the villages,” Allen says.

Late last year, village leaders interrupted a baptism (Photo courtesy of FMI)

Late last year, village leaders interrupted a baptism.
(Photo courtesy of FMI)

This transformation causes village leaders to feel threatened. They, in turn, are threatening the future of a 40-member strong congregation.

At best, the church will be sort of socially ex-communicated, as Allen puts it. They’ll have to find a new place that will welcome them. But even to visit another village is a three-hour hike. And it’s hard to believe another village will accept these Christians, judging by their already tense relations with the Muslim government.

The pastor is not being deterred by this request, however. While he remains respectful in how he approaches leadership, his passion to teach others about Jesus is not quenched to any degree.

If you’ve been walking with God for a while, you know it’s easy to get discouraged without much support for what you’re doing. Can you take a moment to consider how you could help encourage this pastor in Bangladesh?

Let’s start with financial giving. Here are several options:

– You can help provide Bibles and hymnals in the Chakma language, and other evangelistic literature as well.

– Another way to help is to contribute to the National Pastors fund with FMI. An upcoming conference still needs to be covered financially.

– Finally, your church can help support a church planter. Three more church planters have been approved in Bangladesh. Their sponsorship is $100 a month.

Photo by FMI.

(Photo by FMI)

Click here to see a full list of options for supporting FMI.

Another way to help is through prayer:

– “Pray for this congregation’s boldness and tactfulness as they will consistently testify of Jesus Christ…in a respectful manner,” says Allen. “Pray that God would change the heart of this village leader, that his heart would be open to hearing and believing the Gospel message.”

– Pray for the congregation as they experience uncertainty about their future.

– Ask God to make Himself known through this hard time.

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