How many Christians are there in Bangladesh?
There are 887,000 Christians out of a population of over 168 million – about half a per cent of the population.
Why are Christians persecuted in Bangladesh?
Until recently, Bangladesh had managed to stay clear of the kind of Islamic extremism that has plagued other parts of the world. That’s changing, and the government is struggling to counter the growing strength of radical Islamic groups.
“They said, ‘You Christians are making trouble. We will beat you.’” Mizanur, a Christian convert in Bangladesh
What’s life like for Christians in Bangladesh?
Converts from other faiths – Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism – suffer the most persecution in Bangladesh. Mizanur is a Christian from a Muslim background, and was attacked by his brother and other villagers while singing worship songs with his family. He was beaten and tortured, and his family’s house and belongings were destroyed. With the help of an Open Doors partner, they’ve gone into hiding.
Christians who belong to ethnic minorities are doubly vulnerable to persecution. Christians among the Muslim Rohingya, who fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar, are facing harassment and strong pressure from their community as well.
This year, Cyclone Amphan and Covid-19 have brought more challenges. The poor are especially vulnerable. This includes Christians, notably those who have converted from a different faith. Many families have lost jobs. Pastors' incomes have also been affected with Sunday services stopping.
Aid is available from the government, but as with other countries, Christians often find themselves deliberately overlooked, particularly those from a Muslim or Hindu background. "You are Christian, you became Christian," they are told. "You've got lots of money! You don't need food!"
A graduate from the Open Doors women’s discipleship programme has two children and runs a small business, selling cosmetics. Because of Covid-19, she lost her business - with people losing their jobs there is no money to spend on cosmetics.
Affected by Covid-19, her name was put on a list for government aid. But when she got there her name had been removed from the list because she had become a Christian. She and her children did not eat for two days. Her family is one of 1,100 families Open Doors partners have helped feed during the pandemic.
How can I help Christians in Bangladesh?
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Bangladesh. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors works with local churches to support persecuted believers in Bangladesh through training, distributing local-language Bibles and other Christian literature, literacy and socio-economic development projects, and providing emergency relief to victims of persecution.
Is it getting harder to be a Christian in Bangladesh?
Bangladesh has risen 10 places in the World Watch List this year, and this reflects worsening persecution in all spheres of life, including a sharp increase in violence.
Lord, we lift up our brothers and sisters in Bangladesh as they face increasing levels of persecution. Please give them comfort and encouragement to stand strong in their faith, and give wisdom and insight to those distributing emergency aid and implementing long-term projects.