In Muslim-dominated Bangladesh, when a Muslim man accepts Christ, his wife usually follows. However, many of these women follow their husbands out of habitual obedience without actually understanding the essence of the Christian faith.
In a country where religious persecution is a common occurrence and is sometimes directed at women, new believers need to grasp the beauty and uniqueness of their faith before they can testify of Christ’s love and stand firm in the face of persecution.
“I’ve been a Christian for years and even attended Bible college with my husband, but I never really took advantage of the opportunity to learn the Word of God,” says Hosneara, a 35-year-old A Christian from a Muslim background who comes to Christ. More (MBB).
Hosneara is a typical MBB woman in Bangladesh who, like many others, simply followed her husband’s lead when he became a Christian. As a result, they have little knowledge of Christ, the Scriptures and the meaning of salvation. This lack of understanding often prevents them from blossoming into godly women.
Women make up almost half of the country’s population, and 70 percent of women are an essential part of the workforce, contributing to their family’s livelihood and the nation’s economy.
However, more than 80 percent of these women live in rural areas. “Many MBB women cannot read as they’ve never gone to school,” explains an Open Doors’ training coordinator. “Some of those who can read only study the Scriptures once a week at a house church service. That is not enough to nurture their young faith.”
Just imagine the kind of testimonies and influence these believers could have if they were built up in their faith, shining forth Christ’s beauty and light in their communities.
To realize this vision, Open Doors designed and began offering a three-year discipleship course for MBB women. The training is called Annona, which means “unique” in the local language. “We are grooming women so they will exhibit their faith in their family, church and community lives,” the coordinator continues. “By being beautiful for Christ in their speech, attitude and deeds, they will be deemed unique by the rest of the society, thus attracting more souls to Him.”
In this training, 20 to 30 women learn about basic Christian doctrines, such as salvation, the Lordship of Christ, how to study the Bible, prayer, fellowship, praise and worship and bearing witness. Together, they explore topics, such as godly living, women’s participation in church and leadership and becoming beautiful for God.
“I’m so happy to be part of this training. I discovered God’s love for me as a woman,” says Hosneara after the course. “I learned that I’m an important person who God created with utmost care and love. I also learned that the way I talk, act or think declares who I am. From now on, I resolve to be kind and generous to my children and other people.”
Father, we thank You for these beautiful Bangladeshi women that You created and redeemed for Christ’s kingdom. Thank You for Your love for them and for the work of Your Holy Spirit in their lives. We thank You for this training in Your Word, and that the Spirit is using it to sanctify their lives. Sustain them, Father, and strengthen them to stand faithfully in the midst of persecution. Make them a beacon of light and hope for the hurting world around them. In the Name of Jesus, who laid down His life that we might have life, Amen.