Bangladesh (MNN) — A new program in Bangladesh answers more than a decade of prayer. “I [have been] praying for 15 to 16 years that God [would] send somebody who can help us [who] can understand us,” Pastor William* begins.
“I thank God for FARMS International.”
Pastor William fled Bangladesh in 2015 after receiving death threats from the Islamic State. These threats were real; terrorists killed a leader from Pastor William’s church shortly after he left the country.
Today, as FARMS International begins working alongside a coalition of believers from a Muslim background, Pastor William sees the answer to his prayers.
“The program FARMS is doing will help them. It will give them growth, not only financially but also socially. They will be respected by the other people, and they can be a certain example to the other people,” he explains.
It’s no secret Bangladesh has one of the world’s highest poverty rates. More about that here. While FARMS helps people escape poverty with dignity intact, the new program goes beyond these core principles. It enables believers from a Muslim background to endure multifaceted persecution.
“There are very few people who can stand for Christ because of the persecution,” Pastor William says. In Muslim-majority Bangladesh, people who leave Islam to follow Christ face problems on every level.
Pastor William was part of a nationwide church network formed to support these believers in 2006. “The people [who] are coming to Christ, they have nowhere to go,” he explains.
“Traditional Christians were not receiving them because they are scared of persecution [from] the Muslim community.”
Six short months after establishing the church network, its founder unexpectedly died, and the mantle of leadership fell to Pastor William. “I was totally new; I didn’t know how to run the ministry,” he says.
At first, the Bangladeshi believer resisted the idea. “I said, ‘Okay, God, You know that I’m not educated enough in theology. I don’t have enough resources; I don’t have anything,’” Pastor William recalls. After receiving God’s response in prayer, he continues, obedience was an easy choice.
“Moses didn’t have anything. He didn’t know how to speak. I choose you. I’ll make your way.”
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Pray the new FARMS program will have a successful beginning. “I want my pastors to grow their own food. How can they do that? With the help of FARMS,” Pastor William says.
“This is the best thing I have ever prayed for – that someone can stand on his feet with the respect and dignity so that he or she can take care of their family, their kids, and their churches and their society.”
*Name withheld for security purposes.
Header image is a representative stock photo courtesy of Syed Rifat Hossain/Unsplash.