Monsoon rains nearly halt ministry in Bangladesh

By July 13, 2018

Bangladesh (MNN) — Monsoon rains are falling like a curtain in Bangladesh. They are expected to last for at least another two weeks before momentarily halting.

“The storms sometimes deliver up to five inches of rain per day. Now, that’s not just a one-day storm; that’s a season from June to September,” FMI’s Bruce Allen reports.

Most parts of Bangladesh can expect to receive 80-100 inches of rain for the year, the majority hitting during monsoon season. The heavy rains expectantly complicate daily life. However, it also threatens it with flooding and landslides.

Monsoon Rains Pause Life

Farmland gets eroded, traffic comes to a stop, and local Uber drivers offer raft rides in place of car rides. Even then, certain pathways and roads are still impassable. This means ministry also slows down.

The FMI supported partners in Bangladesh mostly come from impoverished backgrounds. They don’t, or at least their congregations don’t, have access to tools like Facebook live or streaming services. This makes it significantly more difficult for pastors to hold church service and disciple their congregations.

(Photo courtesy of FMI for MNN use.) Rural Pastor in Bangladesh.

Yet, FMI partners are continuing in ministry. Sometimes, they’re risking their safety for the spiritual well-being of others. The simplest way ministry continues is by delayed church services. In the extreme, some pastors are still continuing to make long treks, despite the flooding and potential landslides, so people will hear the Gospel and have their faith buoyed.

“I know one pastor’s wife in particular, in Bangladesh. In the area near where the refugee camps have been set up, for the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, she’s very nervous for her husband when he goes out, because often there would be people who cannot make it to a church service during the week.

“And so he’s going out to visit them, or there’s other ministry activity going on, and it takes an emotional toll on the pastors family, especially,” Allen explains.

Path of Destruction

A landslide has already claimed the lives of an entire family who lived in this same pastor’s area. The landslide collapsed the family home and buried the people inside. Allen says FMI partners are trying to minister in the face of devastation, while they themselves face the same devastation.

Bangladesh, Rohingya

A Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh. (Photo courtesy of FMI)

To complicate things more, people are also dealing with power outages, polluted water supplies, and water-borne illnesses. Allen says food prices have tripled, sometimes in a single day, because of the risk and costs associated with getting food to certain areas. But the monsoon rains don’t discriminate between the citizens and noncitizens of Bangladesh.

“In recent weeks, more than 28,000 people (the Rohingya refugees) have been affected. And 133 landslides have damaged more than 3,000 of these makeshift shelters,” Allen says.

Be Prayerful, Be Active

While the monsoons don’t come as a surprise, each year when the season hits, it leaves a trail of destruction in the country. So please, will you pray?

“The weather still responds. The clouds and the waves still know that Jesus is in charge, and we can pray about that. We can pray for the Christians, their ability to persevere and have stamina in the face of these monsoons,” Allen shares.

Also, pray for these partners’ provision for ministry, their capacity to show compassion to people in need, and for people’s health. Pray that the Christians in the area would learn how to care for one another and to learn the blessing of sharing the little they have with others in need.

And finally, pray for Christians outside of Bangladesh to stand with their brothers and sisters impacted by the monsoon, either through prayer or by providing for tangible needs.

FMI is accepting donations to its “Overseas Partner” and “Tangible Resources” funds to help FMI partners and others impacted by the heavy rains in Bangladesh.

Click here to give.

Header photo courtesy of Santanu Sen via Flicker.)

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