Local Missionaries in Bangladesh
With more than 160 million inhabitants living in an area slightly smaller than Iowa, Bangladesh is one of the world’s most populous and densely populated countries. The South Asian country is bordered by India, Myanmar, and the Bay of Bengal.
Most of the country is comprised of plains situated on river deltas. The climate is hot and humid for most of the year with summer monsoons that cause devasting floods. Frequent droughts and cyclones also result in tremendous loss of life and property.
Bangladesh used to be part of Pakistan until a bitter civil war led to independence in 1971. The country declared Islam its official religion in 1988. Since then, the Bangladeshi government has taken the initiative to propagate Islam, providing financial assistance to mosques and organizing the training of imams. Today, 89% of the population is Muslim.
Bangladesh is one of the world’s poorest countries, with nearly half of the population subsisting on less than one dollar per day. However, with the help of international development assistance, Bangladesh is making significant progress in economic growth, food production, and universal education. Almost half of Bangladeshis are employed in the agriculture sector. Garments are the backbone of Bangladesh’s industrial sector.
The Christian population comprises an extremely small percentage of the population, less than a fraction of 1%, and faces persecution from Muslim communities and radical Muslim groups. Multiple Islamic terrorist groups, including the Islamic State (ISIS), have networks in Bangladesh. Many Christians meet in underground house churches. Believers who belong to ethnic minorities face the highest levels persecution, like those from the Rohingya refugee population, nearly 1 million of whom live in Bangladesh.
In the early 1800s, the English missionary William Carey ministered to the Bengali people and translated the New Testament into their language. Today, indigenous missionaries effectively continue the work of evangelism and discipleship. Christian Aid Mission assists multiple ministries that are working among the Bengali majority as well as many ethnic minority groups. Missionary support is their greatest need, along with funding for discipleship and training programs, which are desperately needed to ensure new believers are grounded in God’s Word.
These ministries are also engaged in compassionate outreach, including providing education to poor Muslim and Christian children, running feeding centers that provide nourishment to hundreds of children, and sheltering orphaned or abandoned children.
Sources: Joshua Project, CIA World Factbook
How to Pray for
- Pray that God would pour out His spirit on the people of Bangladesh to open blind eyes to the truth.
- Pray that people battered by poverty and discrimination would be healed, strengthened and redeemed by Christ’s love.
- Pray for protection and provision for brave believers and indigenous missionaries risking everything to share the hope of the gospel in this difficult mission field.
More stories from Bangladesh
A follower of a local religion was unable to find peace, and when native missionaries shared the gospel with him, he listened carefully as they taught from the Bible. After much consideration, he put his faith in Christ. “I have left my old behavior and character, and I am saved now,” he said.
Meeting people in marketplaces, shops and home visits, native Christian workers form friendships and share the gospel as they invest in the lives of others. Opportunities to tell people about Christ also arise as they distribute water and medicines and give free training in tailoring.
The interest that an ethnic group showed when a native Christian worker shared the gospel in their tribal tongue compelled him to return to their village several times. Each time they heard him speak, they wanted to know more, and after a few months many of them put their faith in Christ and were baptized.
A follower of a traditional religion wondered how his sin could be removed, and then a native Christian worker had the opportunity to share the gospel with him. The man received Christ and has begun telling his relatives about God’s grace. Workers focusing on an unreached people group recently planted a church among them, and members of that congregation are bringing the gospel to their relatives in a neighboring village.
A native ministry has sent new workers to share the gospel with two major tribes, joining those already working among six ethnic groups. “We have seen that lives among the people groups have been improving since the native missionaries started working in the three hill districts,” the ministry leader said.