Bangladesh (MNN) — The government of Bangladesh is pushing forward with a plan to move hundreds of Rohingya refugees to a small island in the Bay of Bengal. The island of 15 sq. miles, Bhasan Char, has only existed since 2006 and formed from Himalayan silt. The UN has not declared the island safe for human habitation.
Rohingya people living in Cox’s Bazar (the largest refugee camp in the world) showed strong resistance to the idea; many claim they were coerced to participate in the project. Hundreds already live on the island.
The sufferings of the Rohingya people
Rohingyan people have endured many injustices in recent years. Greg Kelly of World Mission says they suffered horrible genocide as they fled from Myanmar, driven out by a largely Buddhist government.
Today, many Rohingya eke out a living in Bangladesh. But Kelley says, “They’re living in areas that were never intended to be populated by human beings. We’re talking about hills that when it rains, there are mudslides. Even their tents get washed away.”
Meanwhile, Myanmar continues to persecute the Rohingya, and more keep fleeing into Bangladesh.
Reaching the Rohingya for Christ
Kelley says the plight of the Rohingya needs to capture the attention of Christians. The Rohingya people have lost everything, and this is an opportunity to tell them that Jesus loves them.
But it can be challenging to even reach the Rohingya, Kelley says. “You can’t even get into these camps. I’ve tried it. They refuse your entry. So you have to use national leaders. So let’s pray for them, but we also need to resource them. We just recently, for example, sent motorcycles to our national leaders in Bangladesh so they can more easily get around. We’ve sponsored medical clinics, we’ve sponsored leadership training.”
Additionally, World Mission is working to supply the Rohingya people with Bibles in their own language.
How to pray
Rohingya people that do embrace Christ instantly face persecution for it. Kelley says, “One of our churches that we established inside the refugee camp, it got exposed. And I saw video footage that just terrorized me. People were coming through with sticks and bats and beating new Christians.”
Pray many Rohingya would embrace the love and hope of Jesus. Pray also that more local leaders would take up the task of ministering to them.
To support these leaders, donate to World Mission here.
The header photo shows Rohingya refugees and is courtesy of World Mission.