“My wife goes to a neighbor’s tube well to fetch the water at midnight, so that people will not see her,” said 69-year-old Ali Siddiki, a retired village police officer. “If they catch her, she will be accused stealing water! It’s a shameful thing for my wife to do, but we have no other way for us to get drinking water.”
Tube wells are a common source of potable water in Bangladesh’s rural villages. Some private individuals own wells, while others can go to a public one. Bengali former Muslims who choose to follow Christ are effectively prevented from getting water from any tube well.
“In our area, most public tube wells have arsenic, so the government sealed them,” explained Ali. “Tube wells that are free of arsenic are always crowded. But I am not allowed to get water, because I am a Christian.”
Ali Siddiki started following Christ in 1991. Though he grew up in a Muslim home, Ali was not faithful and he described his life before Christ as “ugly,” without any good reputation to show as a Muslim. At one point, Ali felt that he needed to change and sought forgiveness. “But in Islam, if you miss just one prayer (out of the five) in a day, you’re guilty of spending many years in hell. And I have missed it a thousand times!” said Ali.
It seemed that the more Ali sought peace for his soul through Islam, the deeper he sank into hopelessness. His despair led him to explore other faiths, to know what hope other religions could offer people like him – sinners. “A Christian showed me in the Bible that Isa (Jesus) came to save sinners,” Ali recounted. “He read to me Mark 2:17: ‘It is not the healthy who needs a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’ In that verse, I found hope. I made up my mind to follow Jesus.”
After his conversion, Ali faced an uphill battle to build good relationships with the people in his village. As a Muslim, people had not really liked him; as a Christian, they hated him. Preventing families from accessing the tube well is only the beginning of the many pressures that Muslims often use against believers to force them to return to Islam.
“I did not worry about them (Muslims),” said Ali. “But we (my wife and I) could not continue sneaking into our neighbor’s property to get water. Not only is it shameful, but it can land us in jail! So, we prayed for our own tube well.”
This year, Open Doors provided resources for Ali to have his own tube well. He was excited about the opportunities this new well affords him. “I don’t have enough words to express my gratitude to God and to Open Doors,” Ali said. “The tube well you provided me helps not only my family, but also the people in my village. Many of our tube wells have arsenic, so people are crowding around public and private wells. I’m sharing mine to my neighbors; I hope it will help me restore good relations with them.”
Bengali Christians make up less than one percent of the Bangladesh’s population of 16 million.
Father, thank You for the ways you have drawn Ali and his wife to Yourself and sustained them. Thank You for providing them with a well, and we ask that he might be a powerful witness in this Muslim village as he shares the clean water with his neighbors. We pray for their son, that he might excel in his job. And we lift Ali up that You would pour out Your wisdom on him as he deals with difficult family circumstances. In the name of Jesus our sustainer, Amen.