Bangladesh (MNN) — We just passed the two-year mark of the Rohingya refugee crisis. In August 2017, over 700,000 Rohingyas fled Myanmar following a military-led crackdown in the nation. Providing a recap on the situation is FMI’s Executive International Director Bruce Allen.
“Myanmar, or Burma as it’s also called, is almost 90% Buddhist. But the Rohingya refugees have been mostly comprised of the minority Muslims in that region. And when the Buddhist authorities had this crackdown against them, they just fled in mass to Bangladesh.”
Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is one of the world’s largest Muslim majority nations. It is also one of the countries where FMI supports national church planters and pastors. Some of FMI’s partners live near the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. However, ministry in Rohingya refugee camps is a bit complicated.
“They’re prohibited from sharing the Gospel openly…But one of our partners, who is a pastor and church planter in the area, knows many Rohingya who have come to faith in Jesus Christ. Often, they would need to leave the camps to get medical attention at a local hospital that [has] a large Christian staff,” Allen explains.
FMI partners have had opportunities to share about Christ outside the camps. However, with the Gospel prohibition, tightening regulations, and challenging cultural issues, these pastors and church planters need strong prayer support.
“[It] reminds me of when the Apostle Paul encouraged people to pray for him. [In] 1 Corinthians 16:9, he says there’s a wide-open door for a great work here. But there [are] many who oppose me, there [are] many challenges. [The] same situation’s happening in refugee camps now,” Allen says.
Need for Hope
Daily life challenges continue for the refugees, too. With a high birthrate, food price increases, and few economic plans for the future, people need hope. They need a hope that is not dependent on circumstances. They need hope that is found in Christ.
“One of our supported pastors, who lives near the refugee camps, he’ll go visit wounded people in the hospitals, wounded refugees, or just go and make visits and try and make friends with people. But he sees what it’s also doing to his own Bangladeshi neighbors in the villages surrounding these camps,” Allen explains.
“He says, ‘I pray for a time when the Rohingya will be able to go back to their homeland in Myanmar. [But] while they’re here, we Christians do want them to come to know Jesus Christ and place their faith in him’.”
Pray the Rohingya refugees can return home soon and that many will return home with a new faith in Christ. Ask God to give these people hope and peace despite their circumstances. Pray for opportunities to arise for FMI partners to share the hope of the Gospel with the refugees in Bangladesh and for strength and wisdom for the FMI partners who are already working with the refugees, too.
Header photo credit: EU/ECHO/Pierre Prakash.