In eleven hours we traveled eighty miles through a nation of muddy river delta where hundreds of thousands drown in floods, where people laughed when we told them we were "tourists." Bangladesh is a Muslim nation that is less than 1 percent Christian, with a per capita income of $180 a year (less than half the income of the people of Haiti).
What kind of faith could Christians have who had lost everything, would receive no inheritance, could not read, and were rejected by all of their friends and beaten by their families?
Would we find that substance more precious than gold mentioned in 1 Peter 1:7, the trial of your faith? Even more, what kind of faith in Christ could exist for a new believer who did not have shelves of Christian books, concordances, music, and numerous Bible translations? What kind of faith grows in those who cannot read one page of any translation and are beaten for speaking about Jesus at a "kindergarten level"? Have we forgotten that the Word existed before the world began (John 1:1)? Would a simple verbal transmission of that Word be enough to hold a bare-bones, isolated faith for believers who are literally spit upon by their own families? We were not disappointed. We would encounter that same glorious hope living in the bones of faith in Bangladesh. We learned that there is greater hope for us in the keeping power of Christ than we realize.
The government and constitution of Bangladesh allows religious freedom and does not condone persecution. However, at the village level, persecution of Christians is a common occurrence. As one Bangladeshi Christian told us, "There are more Imams (Muslim leaders) in the countryside than there are police."
Here are their stories...
Testimony: Abdul and Mjurar M.
I drive a rickshaw 12 hours a day. Forty percent of my pay goes for rent of the rickshaw. An evangelist gave me a New Testament about Jesus, but since I cannot read my wife reads to me by a small lamp on the floor after our evening meal of rice. Her eyes get tired but she keeps reading.
When we became Christians, our neighbors would not let us drink from the well. My wife and children walk half a mile to the river three times a day with clay pots. Sometimes the river water makes us sick. The Muslim court in the village has started a court case against us. They are angry that we visited another area three years ago for a Christmas celebration. My uncle took our inheritance of land away from us. When we went to see a judge, he said we were telling lies and waved with his hand for us to get out.
We worship with others in a house about one mile away from our home. The neighbors shout in through the window using dirty language and throw big pieces of dirt at the house. Our six-year-old son goes to the window and shouts back at them. He threw a stone at them.
My wife went to the hospital when our relatives beat her with a stick. They hit her in the ear, grabbed her by the hair, and jerked her around. She was still sick after eight days in the hospital but returned home to help us. Jesus has saved us. We have no sin, but have peace now. We will not go back to the Muslim life where there is no hope. Tell the Christians in America to be ready for Jesus' coming. We will meet in heaven.
"Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake...Rejoice"(Luke 6:22,23).
Testimony: Milon G.
A friend gave me some gospel booklets, which I hid in a steel trunk in my bedroom. At night I would get my key, open the trunk and read with a kerosene lamp. Having studied in a Muslim fundamental school for 12 years, I had known about Jesus mentioned in the Koran but didn't know Him as Savior.
I accepted Jesus in 1992 and was baptized secretly 400 kilometers from my home. I sell clothing in the local market, and began placing some Christian books in my shop for other Christians. When Muslim men learned of this, they would walk into my shop and just take shirts, pants, and socks from the shelf without paying for them. If I asked for money they threatened to beat me. If they are interested in the booklets I will give them one.
I ride to the villages on my bicycle and carry Christian literature. In two villages, groups of Muslims threatened to cut off my feet so I couldn't travel. In the rains, I hold an umbrella in one hand and steer with the other; I often fall down, and get muddy and scratched. At night, I hold a flashlight. I sing from the Psalms when I ride. The Christians I meet do not have an extra blanket for me, so I try to make it back home to sleep.
I would like to tell my Christian friends in America that we are going through many problems but still we have Jesus Christ. We have peace through Him and we have hope that when we die we will go to heaven.
"But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things that are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen" (1 Corinthians 1:27,28).
Testimony: Abdul and Joina R.
I don't know how to read but I know Psalm 23. My wife also cannot read but our son and daughter read the Bible to us. We have a one-room house with grass walls and a grass roof. We have been isolated since becoming Christians. For the last year, our neighbors have not allowed visitors to cross their land to come and see us. Visitors would have to go a long way around. We also cannot get agricultural loans for our rice field.
I was in bed one month from beatings. My wife brought me bread and rice. The doctor was not happy with me and asked me why I became a Christian. One day at noon I returned from the market walking down a dirt path to my house. The Imam (Muslim leader), was standing beside the mosque. He wore a robe, had a beard and glasses, and held a big stick. His name is Gafur.
Gafur called me over and asked why I became a Christian; he accused me of loving Jesus. He began beating me on the head and back with the stick. A doctor ran up and stopped him but no one went to the police. The police would do nothing. The leader of the village said, "You have become a Christian so you destroy our Muslim religion."
My ten-year-old son says that he will become a preacher and give the gospel to those who beat us, to bring them to Jesus.
"Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you!...Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you" (Luke 6:26,27).
Tom White is USA Director of The Voice of the Martyrs.
Copyright © 1998 The Voice of the Martyrs. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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