Bangladesh: Targeting tribes

Bawm Tribal Ministries of Bangladesh was born in 1994, when native Bangladeshi missionary 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.

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.

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.

"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 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.

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.