Bangladesh (MNN) — Bangladesh is one of the largest Muslim-majority nations in the world. The World Watch List* ranks the country 48th out of the top 50 countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian. Bruce Allen with FMI was recently in the country for conferences and field visits with FMI-supported pastors. What he found is encouraging.
The FMI team held 20 conference sessions for the FMI-supported pastors and church planters. The theme—Propelled. These sessions covered catching and casting “the Lord’s specific vision for ministry in their community”. Allen also taught sessions focusing on the life of Moses in Exodus and how God called Moses, calibrated his vision, and eventually brought that vision to reality.
“We enjoyed times of focused prayer, worship, hearing reports from our partners, and providing them and their families with a refreshing break to help prevent ministry burn-out,” Allen says.
During the family-friendly conferences, a US-based pastor’s wife led sessions for the other pastors’ wives, too.
This time of encouragement and empowerment is a rarity for Christian women in Bangladesh.
“They don’t have women’s conferences and the sort of support that Christian women here in the West often enjoy. That was a real treat for them. Their sessions focused on Bible studies about the various treasures that they have received from the Lord, and how to use those treasures in their families and churches,” Allen explains.
“It was really an empowering time for the pastors’ wives as well.”
Faithfulness in the Face of Trials
However, one of the stories Allen collected while abroad was of FMI-supported Pastor Tomal, a believer from a Muslim background (BMB). Pastor Tomal ministers in a village of 1,700 people, but there are only 20 believers. For many believers in Bangladesh, it is not uncommon to feel isolated as a religious minority.
“Those few, those 20 are facing a difficult time as well. But Tomal has told us that he encourages his people not to be scared because God is with us. Then, he starts telling us about his story, how he’s recently been beaten. He was in prison for three days because of baptisms that he had been holding. Because he baptized three Muslim background believers openly, he was beaten [and] he was imprisoned,” Allen says.
“He says, ‘Even in prison, I was not scared. While I was in prison, I kept testifying to Christ, even when the people around me were threatening me.’ I was so encouraged to see that in the face of threat, in the face of beatings, in the face of imprisonment, that Tomal doesn’t waver.”
Please pray for Pastor Tomal and his congregation. Pray for all Christians in Bangladesh, for their perseverance, encouragement, and protection.
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Join Mission Network News tomorrow as we look at how congregations in Bangladesh are maturing and what the means for the local Church.
*The Open Doors USA World Watch List is a ranking of the top 50 countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian.
Header photo courtesy of FMI.