Believers in Bangladesh targeted for persecution
In Bangladesh, Open Doors partners have received reports that Muslim background believers are experiencing persecution by a group of Maulana (Muslim religious leaders and scholars) in cooperation with local political and religious leaders. This group visits the Christians from house to house, forcing them to renounce their faith in Jesus and return to Islam.
“This group has invited local Muslims surrounding the area to avoid the MBBs, excommunicate, and isolate them completely,” Brother Abraham, an Open Doors local partner shares. “They have sent a message to all the local mosques and local leaders saying that it is their responsibility to let the Christians renounce their faith and go back to Islam. They’ve also listed names and addresses of the MBBs. And now, regularly, two times a day, they visit the MBBs’ homes and force them to renounce their faith in Jesus. When they refuse to renounce, they are threatened that they would be harmed. Because of fear of persecution and torture, around 8 families have already renounced their faith in Jesus.”
OD partners report that a former MBB who has openly denied his faith in Jesus and returned to Islam is now helping the group identify the other MBBs. “He was a pastor and evangelist of a church who led many people to Christ,” shares Bro Abraham. “He has testified to that group about how Christians evangelize and convert people to Christianity. His testimony contains lots of false and negative statements about Christians, which then gives Muslims a very negative impression of Christians.”
The Maulana group is reported to have taken over the church where this former MBB and other believers used to worship, using it as a venue for Muslim prayer, and have taken all the materials that are being used at church, as well as materials for adult literacy classes. The group has also posted videos on their online channel showing the materials, insulting and dishonouring Christians, and accusing Christians of receiving money when they accept Jesus.
Believers in hiding
Many family leaders have now gone into hiding because they are targeted and are forced to deny Jesus. “The MBBs are excommunicated by the Muslim villagers, who are a major number in those villages. Now, the MBBs cannot go to the marketplace, cannot buy and sell things, and cannot go to work. The Christians are not allowed to enter the market. The Maulana have been going from market to market, shop to shop, telling the Muslims not to sell things to the Christians.”
Anand*, one of the believers pressured to renounce his faith, shares his situation: “I have a shop at the local market which is my only source of income. I am threatened by the Muslims to not go to my shop. I cannot go to my shop for weeks. I don’t know if my things are still in the shop or not, and I am suffering a food crisis. I am the only believer in my family, and my family members are pressuring me to renounce from my faith in Jesus. I don’t know what to do.”
Open Doors partners in Bangladesh are praying and looking into how we can help the believers in this situation. As of now, there are around 132 MBB families who have chosen not to renounce their faith in Jesus and are being persecuted. Among them are 81 families who are going through a food shortage, as the men in their family are in hiding, and therefore could not continue with their livelihoods.
1. Pray for the MBB families who are suffering because they do not want to renounce their faith in Jesus. Pray for their protection and safety. Our partners say: “We cannot protect them. The state’s law cannot protect them. Pray for God’s protection. He can only protect them. Pray that the surviving believers will be able to stand strong in their faith and face the situation biblically and wisely.”
2. Pray for the former MBB pastor and families who have already renounced their faith for the fear of persecution and affliction. Pray that God would work in their hearts.
3. Pray for God to open the hearts of the Maulana group who are persecuting the Christians. Pray that they would know the truth and love of Christ so that they will become a part God’s kingdom.
4. Pray for the local authorities –the local political and religious leaders – that they will help the Christians live in safety, in a community where they can practice their faith freely.
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