Bangladesh (MNN) — The Rohingya people are very open to the news of Jesus, but authorities trying to protect them are hindering evangelism efforts.
Greg Kelley of World Mission describes the setting in which the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh live. “They’ve got them all concentrated very tightly in a place called Cox’s Bazar. You literally can look to your left and see the mountains of Myanmar and then you’re in these camps that are all clustered together.”
Kelley was initially denied entrance into the camps, but he managed to get in anyway. He says, “It really works to the advantage of people trying to do ministry in there. Because as much as they have them tightly consolidated with very specific boundaries, the Rohingya will kind of spill out a little bit over the street. So you could be on one side of the street, and not technically inside the camp. You walk on the other side of the street, now you’re in the camp.”
Kelley describes tremendous ministry opportunities inside these camps.
But there is one problem.
The UN restrictions on witnessing
The UN allows aid to come into the camps, but they heavily restrict outsiders sharing their religion while in the camps.
The solution? Kelley says, “The ultimate conclusion [is] Rohingya reaching Rohingya, which needs to be kind of the endgame goal, if you will. Because that’s the only way that the exponential advancement of the Gospel takes place.”
Building churches among the Rohingya
Most Rohingya are Muslim, with very few Christians or churches. “You need long term touchpoints, if you will, to create disciples. That’s what World Mission is investing in right now offsite, in near proximity [with] these camps. We are setting up a ministry center that will allow for long term discipleship-making which will include . . . teaching them job skills.”
The Rohingya desperately need these kinds of job skills and resources. Kelley says many men just stand on the side of the road waiting for an opportunity.
This ministry center will also teach the Gospel, which will allow Rohingya to bring the good news of Christ back into the camp themselves.
How to pray
Kelley exhorts Christians to pray for the Rohingya as the coronavirus puts them in danger. He says, “As is the case with viruses or [other disasters], the poor are more impacted. They are more proportionately touched than the upper classes.”
Pray also that the Rohingya people would embrace Christ and that churches among them would thrive.
Rohingya Camps in Cox’s Bazar. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)