Date: December 17, 2015
[UPDATE: The following update, regarding the situation outlined below, was just sent to FARMS. To protect his identity, we have changed the subject’s name to John Doe.
“As I mentioned in my most recent message, people all over the land are declaring their commitment to follow Christ as Lord and many of these are among the highly educated. Now it turns out that some of these folks are local and regional government officials.
John Doe pointedly asked one such man why he had turned to Jesus and become an “Isahi.” The answer was that although this man’s religion told him and others to kill their enemies, Jesus never killed anyone even when he was cruelly treated. Moreover, all his life this man had prayed to Allah yet it seemed that either Allah did not hear him or else chose to ignore him. But when he prayed to Jesus he found genuine peace. It is Jesus whom he will follow. And the story is but one of many.
On a different note, the central government has rounded up many people suspected of terrorist activity or sympathies, including several leaders of the ISIL and/or Al Qaeda operations in the country. As of the time of John Doe’s call, no incidents had occurred within the past fifteen days. Consequently the restrictions on social media have been lifted; it is now possible for people to use their Facebook accounts. However, incoming email messages are probably still intercepted and monitored, so too with telephone land lines and John Doe says it’s better not to try to reach him yet by those means. But the police have told John Doe that it’s no longer necessary for them to provide guards wherever he goes, though they urge him to be careful — e.g., not to go anywhere alone at night — and to report immediately any suspicious or threatening events that he or the family experience.”]
Bangladesh (MNN) — Bangladesh is part of a new Muslim coalition tasked with fighting the Islamic State.
Led by Saudi Arabia, 34 nations are taking up arms to “protect the Islamic nation from the evils of all terrorist groups.”
According to Reuters, clarity is lacking regarding the militant purpose of the coalition. When Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir first began approaching his fellow Muslim leaders with the idea, he described it as a “center to coordinate against extremism and terrorism.”
However, in press release issued earlier this week, Jubeir referred to the partnership as a “military alliance.” At least one Muslim-majority nation – Indonesia – has refused to join for that reason.
As listed here by BDNews24.com, the Saudi-led coalition includes:
- United Arab Emirates
- Sierra Leone
- The Palestinian Territories
- Cote d’Ivoire
“This is becoming more and more of an issue in Bangladesh,” he states. “Recently, they put threats out on government officials; also, and especially, on Christians.”
Facing fears in Bangladesh
After the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Richter says, extremists “set up shop” in Bangladesh. Officials are taking a “hard-line approach” to the ISIS threat within their borders, but the group is still operating through JMB’s activities.
Along with attacking foreigners in October, ISIS-affiliates have sent death threats to the Christian who leads FARMS work in Bangladesh. Local police are keeping constant watch on him and his family.
Nonetheless, Gospel work continues through FARMS’ microloan program.
“Oh, it’s been tremendous in Bangladesh! You don’t hear about it, but there are tens of thousands of former Muslims coming to know the Lord.”
Pray for Bangladeshi believers
Using donor-supported microloans, FARMS International equips families in poverty with the means for self-support. Working through the local church, FARMS provides technical support for income generating projects, and spiritual training for families.
The resulting “spiritual harvest” in Muslim-majority Bangladesh exciting, Richter admits. But, the growth hasn’t been without tremendous cost.
“Quite a number of Christians have been martyred for their faith…that were affiliated with us, in one way or another,” shares Richter.
The growing ISIS threat puts believers “in a very tough spot right now,” he admits. “But, the work continues, and God is working in that land.”
Would you keep Bangladeshi believers in your prayers?
Pray for courage, and pray Christians will be willing to keep sharing the Gospel with those who are in darkness. Pray they won’t deny their faith when confronted with terror.
“They really need assurance that Jesus is there, God is there,” notes Richter. “God knows their situation, and there are people all around the world praying for them.
“People feel very alone, and they’re not sure if anyone sees their plight. Pray that they’re not overcome with fear; that they sense God is in control.”