Bangladesh: Targeting tribes
Bangladesh has the 4th largest Muslim population in the world.
In 1977 native Bangladeshi missionary, Bawm, dedicated his life to Christ during a revival meeting. Soon after, he attended a seminary in Seoul, where he received his Masters of Divinity.
A group of tribal people being reached by the ministry
Upon graduation in 1989, Bawm returned to Bangladesh to begin ministering to his own people, the Bawm tribe, for which he is named.
Through the work of the churches planted among them, they have become the most-educated people in their district.
Bawm Tribal Ministries of Bangladesh was born in 1994, when Bawm and 11 co-workers planted a church in the Bandarban Hill District of southeastern Bangladesh to reach out to the 11 ethnic groups living in the region.
The Mru people, one of Bangladesh's four largest tribes, have been especially receptive to the gospel.
This animist tribe of approximately 80,000 is considered the only original inhabitants of the Bandarban Hill District.
With help from Christian Aid, Bawm was able to send eight gospel workers into Mru villages. As a result, within a year three churches were planted in these villages. One of the new believers has become a missionary to his own people. Several women have formed a Women's Christian Association to reach more tribal people groups with the Word of God.
In addition to the Mru, BTMB now works among the closely related Tangchangya and Chakma tribes.
Christian Aid Makes a Difference
Because of extreme poverty, tribal churches cannot contribute enough to support the work of BTMB, including Bible training for native missionaries, church planting, evangelism outreaches, Christian schools, food distribution and medical clinics. But with help from Christian Aid, the ministry has incorporated these essential elements into their outreach efforts.
A typical tribal house
"Before Christian Aid's support, the churches of BTMB were not growing spiritually and in quantity," Bawm said. "But since we started receiving your prayers and financial assistance, God has worked among the tribal churches and unreached tribes in amazing ways."
One project made possible by a Christian Aid donor is the planting of a mango grove that will produce enough revenue to support 10 to 20 missionaries.
BTMB has now established more than 34 local tribal churches throughout the Bandarban Hill District. Bawm is responsible to oversee 24 churches and preaches several times each Sunday.
In addition to Sunday preaching, Bawm has been instrumental in organizing many revivals. He also leads a training program for village pastors, elders, deacons and youth leaders to prepare them for effective ministry.
Reaching Tribes By Helping Children
BTMB missionaries have found that one of the most effective ways of reaching the tribal people of the Bandarban Hill District is by educating their children. For example, a school was established in a village without one and provides a free education to the children of 30 non-Christian families.
Teacher-missionaries work with children during the day and conduct gospel meetings for adults in the evenings.
Through Christian Aid's help, 10 of these teacher-missionaries are receiving support.
Today in Bangladesh, less than one percent of the population is Christian.
But the number of committed native missionaries spreading the gospel throughout the country is increasing.
For the past 40 years, churches have grown at twice the rate of the population. Christian Aid has gotten behind the indigenous ministries that are making this growth happen, because of their effectiveness and vision to see their country changed by the power of Christ.
Christian Aid donors have helped mission leader Bawm to send eight gospel workers into Mru villages.
BTMB works with Mru, Tripura, Bawm, Khyang, Tangchangya, Pankhu and Chakma tribes.