Despite Persecution, Bangladeshi Women Grow in Christ

Posted: September 5, 2013 in Articles

On March 2013, seventeen female converts assemble in Dhaka, Bangladesh for a three-day discipleship program. This OD-supported training encourages them to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ by reading, studying, and applying the Bible.

“It is our desire and prayer that each participant will grow spiritually and gain the confidence to make disciples,” shares an Open Doors local worker. “But before they make disciples, they need to be disciples first. They need to understand God’s Word.”

Most of these women become followers of Christ through their husbands’ conversion. Although a number of them have been believers for some time, many learn and practice basic Christian disciplines only during the OD discipleship training.

“This program has helped them distinguish between ‘believer’ and ‘disciple,’” the OD worker explains. “The women now know how to meditate on the Word of God, and how to make room for the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.”

The Cost of Following Jesus

Christian women in Bangladesh are persecuted not only for their gender, but all the more for turning their backs on their old religion.

Shala*, one of the training program’s youngest participants, is the only Christian in her family. Her father and uncles are active members of a fundamentalist group, which makes it doubly hard for her to live out her faith.

“In the Bengali context, it is rare for a single girl to follow another belief,” says the OD worker.

Upon discovery, converts like Shala run the risk of being disowned, tortured, and even killed by their families. The danger intensifies in February 2013, when fundamentalistic activists in Bangladesh start rioting against religious minorities due to a political conflict.

“I am a bit fearful that Shala’s family would follow her here in Dhaka, but I praise God for keeping her and all of us safe,” the OD worker shares.

In the training, other women believers become a source of encouragement for Shala. She is also glad to finally have a Bible in her hands.

“I didn’t have a copy of the Bible before,” says Shala. “I thank God for this Bible, but I cannot bring it home. I might get caught.”

“The training is the only time Shala can read the Bible,” says the OD worker. “I pray that someday, she’ll be able to carry the Bible with her so she will grow stronger in her faith every day.”

 Remembering Christ’s Suffering

Just before attending the discipleship training, 57-year-old Amina* also suffers persecution in the hands of her family.

“One of my relatives slapped my face because my family and I are Christians,” Amina recounts.

“I am an old lady. It is hard for me to bear this shame,” she adds. “I struggle to forget the incident but I am still not as joyful as I always am because of it.”

“The next morning, our trainer asked me to go in front and all the ladies prayed for me.” Amina narrates. “One of my sisters said in her prayer that it was time to remember Christ’s suffering. When Christ was on the Cross, He said ‘Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.’”

“When I heard this prayer, I remembered what Jesus had done for me and I cried,” shares Amina. “I said, ‘Lord, what I experienced was nothing compared to what happened to You.’”

“Now, my bitterness toward that person is gone.”

From Persecutor to Disciple

Unlike Shala and Amina whose families persecute them, 55-year-old Hina* used to be a persecutor in hers.

“My husband and two sons became believers long before me. I thought they were wrong,” shares Hina.

“I prayed a lot so that they would come back to our faith,” she continues. “I was against them, but by God’s grace, and my husband and children’s hard work, I believe in Jesus today.”

Hina accepts Christ in 2010, and from then on, becomes active in seeking the Lord. “I love to sing and pray,” she says. “I’m glad to be able to recite memory verses during the discipleship training.”

 “Though I am getting old, I am not shy to still learn from the Bible,” Hina continues. “I enjoy reading it.”

“I pray for God to help me teach other women in our church,” she shares. “I will believe in Jesus forever.”

Prayer Points

  • Thank God for His provision and guidance in the women’s discipleship training. Pray that this program will bless more women converts
  • Praise the Lord for the lives of Shala, Amina, and Hina. Pray that they will continue to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Pray for the rest of the women in Bangladesh who are seeking the Lord.
  • Pray for those who continue to persecute Christians in Bangladesh. Ask God to touch and transform their hearts.

* Names changed for the believers’ protection.

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