DHAKA – Imagine it is a rainy Sunday morning. You wake up, you consider the downpour, and you decide that the weather is too bad for anyone to go to church. And you are the pastor!
Now imagine that you live in a country like Bangladesh and that it is the monsoon system, which it is right now. And you are the pastor.
Far from what a brief downpour – or even most hurricanes – that we experience, the monsoon season lasts for several months. And the monsoons keep on coming.
Let’s get a perspective on what that means.
Bangladesh is about the same size as the state of Iowa, which ranks it 92nd in size as a nation. However, from a population perspective, it is the eighth largest nation in the world with a population roughly equivalent to that of the United States. Less than two-tenths of a percent of the population (325,000) are Christians.
Jamais Cascio noted that “Fragile economies and weak infrastructures tend to worsen the results of climate disruptions, a problem exemplified by Bangladesh’s vulnerability to monsoons.”
Cascio is talking about the state of Bangladesh during ‘normal’ times. This monsoon season there are 900,000 refugees from the conflict in Myanmar living in temporary tent cities creating additional economic stress on the country. They lack adequate supplies of water, sanitation facilities, food, and privacy. Their encampments near Cox’s Bazaar are also extremely vulnerable to flooding and mudslides, as is much of the rest of the country.
So, it is Sunday morning – or any other morning – and it is raining. It’s not just raining; it’s monsoon season. Traveling anywhere is dangerous at best. What do you do?
You do what God has called you to do. You go out into the byways and the hedges and share the Gospel. The rain doesn’t stop you. It gives you a captive audience as the most villagers and those in refugee camps stay at home, hoping to remain safe.
Bruce Allen from Forgotten Missionaries said, ” I know one pastor’s wife in particular, in Bangladesh, in the area near where the refugee camps have been set up, for the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. She’s very nervous for her husband when he goes out . . . (to) people who cannot make it to a church service during the week. And so he’s going out to visit them.”
For national missionaries and pastors in remote areas of Bangladesh, the only way to minister to parishioners or to share the Gospel with those who have never heard about Jesus is to do so on foot. The storms, the flooding, and the mudslides can bring nearly every other means of transportation to a halt. Not to mention that walking on foot can be dangerous.
In recent weeks more than 133 landslides have destroyed more than 3,000 homes and makeshift shelters, affecting more than 28,000 people.
Allen has requested that we pray for the Christian workers in Bangladesh, “their ability to persevere, and have stamina in the face of these monsoons.” Pray for these loyal believers who know that leading people to Jesus is more important than staying at home because of the rain.
And the next time you wake up and it’s raining, don’t use the rain as an excuse to stay home. Use it as another reason to go out and worship and tell others about Jesus.
Note: Bangladesh received 7.2 inches of rain on July 3rd and 4th in addition to the 10 inches received the previous week.
- Mission Network News, Monsoon rains nearly halt ministry in Bangladesh
- Forgotten Missionaries, Bangladesh
- BBC News, Myanmar Rohingya refugees brace for monsoon deluge in Bangladesh camps
- Taipei Times, World Vision’s 30-hour fasting campaign begins
- Relief Web, Bangladesh: Humanitarian Situation report No.35 (Rohingya influx) 17 June – 04 July 2018
- Relief Web, Hamilton mobilization for Rohingya refugees
- Brainy Quote, Jamais Cascio