Burned but not broken—pray with Christians in Buddhist village

August 11, 2022 by Noah Cassetto in Asia

What do you do when the only church in your village is burned to the ground? This is the question a group of believers in Bangladesh is now asking. 

Believers are relatively few in Chattagram Hill Tracts, the southeastern part of Bangladesh. The population is dominated by indigenous peoples, with Christians scattered throughout the Buddhist population. Like many places in the world, Christians are often mistreated, largely without consequence. 

Around 10 pm, the village’s local church was alight with flames. About 30 minutes before the blaze started, local believers spotted some Buddhists loitering outside the church. When the shocked worshippers came to their church the next day, they were greeted with a depressing sight—every Bible, chair, hymn book and the pulpit reduced to ashes. 

The church was a specific target. It was built on the outskirts of the village to appease Buddhists in the community. A church in their village, they believed, should be out of sight and out of mind. Evidently, this church was out of time, too. Arsonists had to intentionally go out of their way to get there.  

The church has cultivated a strong legacy of ministry and discipleship since its founding in 2014. Many Buddhist-background believers were part of the congregation, despite facing threats and danger from their Buddhist community. In the midst of such discouraging threats, the church continued to grow and bring people to Jesus. 

Church members quickly brought the case before the village for arbitration, hoping to receive justice for the attack but quickly realized that justice and fairness were a pipe dream. The suspects denied the allegations of arson and garnered support from the majority of the village residents. When Christians pressed for action, the village turned on them, nearly escalating to physical violence. As they were asked to leave, Christians were told to not rebuild the church. 

Believers are discouraged. Their church—the place where they gather for support and fellowship—is destroyed. They have been shunned from their village, they can’t go to the authorities for fear of angering the Buddhist villagers even more and they can’t even attempt to rebuild their church. 

Open Doors local partners are currently talking with these believers to identify how to best support the church. 

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Join us in praying for these believers in Bangladesh. Let’s ask God to bring about miraculous reconciliation, that the Buddhists would repent and the Christians would forgive. Pray that somehow, this attack sets up the church for even greater success for the gospel. Finally, let’s ask God to reach the hearts of the arsonists, that they would come to know Christ. Nothing is impossible with the Lord.