Dramatic change of heart in Bangladesh

Hiking between Chakma tribe villages in rural Bangladesh is long and arduous, but FMI-supported Pastor Arjun regularly treks between ministry sites in three villages to evangelize, disciple believers, and establish new churches. (Photo courtesy Forgotten Missionaries International)

Hiking between Chakma tribe villages in rural Bangladesh is long and arduous, but FMI-supported Pastor Arjun regularly treks between ministry sites in three villages to evangelize, disciple believers, and establish new churches. (Photo courtesy Forgotten Missionaries International)

Bangladesh (MNN) — How much courage does it take to stand and say “I am a Christian”? Obviously, it’s more difficult in some parts of the world than others.

Several months ago in a Bangladesh village where Christians only make up 10% of the population, six converted Chakmas were ready to be baptized. But, after two were baptized, the ceremony was interrupted and obstructed by the village governor.

Bruce Allen of Forgotten Missionaries International said, “The village leader was so vehement that he was showing an ultimatum that the entire church was going to be banished from the tribe and have to leave the village.”

The pastor of the church, Pastor Arjun, was put in a difficult place as a leader, but he and the village leader were able to come up with a truce: the church was allowed to stay, but no more baptisms could take place.

“The pastor was having the mentality that he would continue with baptisms, but outside of the village, so that it wasn’t perceived as a threat to this village leader.”

Forgotten Missionaries workers started praying for an even greater solution and spread the story around, so others could join in prayer.

Allen received an update from Pastor Arjun at a leadership training conference in Bangladesh in February. “An amazing thing has happened: the village leader has reversed his decision. We are now free to stay and do ministry as we see fit. We’ve had wonderful prayer support in the past months because this was something that we brought to Mission Network News listeners’ attention.”

But what led to the village leader’s dramatic change of heart?

It turned out he had been meeting with other village leaders, and one was able to convince them that having Christians in a village is a good thing. Allen quoted the leader, “They can exist very peacefully with us. In fact, they’re hard working, they’re honest, they’re not prone to violence. We should allow them.” At the end of the his argument, he concluded by saying, “And, I am a Christian as well.”

At the end of this month, Pastor Arjun’s congregation will be holding another ceremony for those who were unable to be baptized.

With this unusual acceptance of Christians, Pastor Arjun wants to help other villages create deeper relationships with Jesus. “A great way to bless Arjun and his congregation would be to provide Pastor Arjun with a motorcycle. He knows of a village where there are a few Christians, but no churches. So, he’d like to work on evangelism and discipleship in that area, but it’s a five-hour walk to get there.”

With a motorcycle, Pastor Arjun could cut his trip down to 25 minutes instead of five hours. He could reach more people, and spend more time answering questions and helping to form a church. Your contribution can make that happen! Click here and select “Tangible Resources.”