BANGLADESH (MNN) — Bangladesh covers roughly the same area as Wisconsin but holds a much larger population. Roughly 165 million people live in the South Asian country.
Of that, the government considers less than one percent to be Christians. Over 90 percent identify as Muslims.
But Robert, a Christian worker in the country with The Voice of the Martyrs Canada, says most people in Bangladesh think about religion differently. “We need to understand that we think of your religion as something you can change and adapt: a belief system. In Bangladesh and other countries in that region, it’s part of your generational stamp of identity. There are even indications of it on your national identity card.”
Persecution from family and neighbors
Those who start following the risen Jesus often deeply offend their families. It feels like a rejection of their history and identity.
Believers even face persecution, mostly from local religious leaders. Robert says, “People in villages if they convert, are sometimes no longer allowed access to water. That’s a big deal if you need to walk to another village where they may not know you to get water. You may lose your job. You can be ostracized. This especially happens in the rural areas where people are more religious, less secular.”
Jesus in Islam
Muslims believe in Jesus as well. They consider him a mighty prophet, one of the most important ever sent. They believe in the Virgin Birth, His miracles, and even His ascension and future return. But they do not believe in His death and resurrection or that He claimed to be God in human flesh.
Robert says Christians in Bangladesh use this as a starting point when sharing Jesus with Muslims. “The idea of a Muslim becoming a Christian is a huge deal. And we don’t even start with that terminology. We tell them about Jesus because the Quran mentions Jesus. We start with, ‘Do you know Jesus? Have you heard about Him?’”
As Christians in Bangladesh demonstrate Jesus’ love, pray many more would follow Him.
The header photo shows a Baptist church in Bangladesh. (Photo courtesy of Goldflakes, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)