Mango Groves Open Doors to Unreached People Groups in Bangladesh

February 1, 2011

Mango garden, beginning to bear fruit

For centuries, the impoverished tribals of the Bandarban Hills have been without the spiritual and physical help they need to survive and develop. Totally animistic until recently, most of these tribals lived in terror of the tree spirits, ghosts and demons that they believe inhabit their streams and hills.

Utterly destitute, they relied on witchcraft and a form of Buddhism for protection until native leaders from the Bawm Tribal Missions of Bangladesh (BTMB) began to establish small Christian churches and schools here. With the spread of the gospel, the missionaries brought something else—mango groves that could revolutionize living standards in the area.

Christian Aid became involved with the ministry in 2006 through its leader, Pastor Bawm. Mahara learned that Pastor Bawm was planting churches in the area and she wanted to provide more help. Bawm asked instead for mango saplings!

His vision was to live among the Maru, Chakma, and other tribals and plant mango orchards. This threefold strategy would allow BTMB workers to establish relationships among the tribals, generate income for their ministry, and provide a livelihood for the many workers from the villages needed to help work the plantations.

Nearly four years later, 2000 mango trees are in place in two separate areas—and some of the trees have already begun to bear fruit. More importantly, the ministry is bearing fruit. Today there are 15 missionaries working among 6 of the 11 tribes living in the Bandarban Hill District.