In most schools in Muslim-dominated Bangladesh, religion is a required class that even Christian students must attend. Many children with Muslim Background Believers (MBB) parents do not have the opportunity to attend Sunday school; most of them join a simple house church that does not have a children’s ministry. At home, their religious questions are often unanswered by their parents, who receive very little discipleship in the first place.
The parents also experience pressure from their Muslim neighbors for leaving Islam and lack confidence in defending their faith. “Why do people mock me by calling me ‘son of a Christian?’” 11-year-old Nur* asks his mother. His question goes unanswered.
To ensure spiritual training as prescribed by Ephesians 6:4, some MBB parents entrust their children to a Christian shelter home. The shelter home, they believe, will also provide better care for the children’s physical needs. Due to poverty, many children in Bangladesh are facing the illiteracy, malnutrition, unsafe drinking water, lack of hygiene and resulting poor health and stunted growth. This is especially true of children from MBB families. MBBs are often denied access to community health facilities because of their faith.
Through partnership with a local church, Open Doors supports the shelter home. The home offers sanctuary to 36 children ages six to 14. Thirty-four of these children come from MBB families and the other two are from a tribal background. At the home, the children receive proper education, nutritious food and spiritual training to develop their faith in Christ.
Apart from physical and spiritual nourishment, some children stay at the shelter because of persecution. Such is the experience of Bristi,* a fatherless girl whose mother works long hours.
“After I received Jesus, I could no longer keep my daughter in the house,” the mother shares. “Our neighbors would assault her every time I left for work. She’s better off at the shelter home where she can study and live in safety.”
Another parent states: “Without this shelter, our children may end up illiterate like us. Worse still, they may have to start working or run away from home. Their peers may morally corrupt them. They may not learn who the true God is. They may die for lack of food or shelter. This is happening to other children in Bangladesh. But we praise God that He has provided our children with studies, food and shelter. He provided a place where they can practice their Christian life.”
Bangladesh is approximately 89 percent Muslim and 0.66 percent Christian (1.2 million). The country is ranked #43 on the Open Doors’ World Watch List of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians.
*Real names are protected due to security reasons
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Christy Lynn Wilson at 770-401-9842.