BANGLADESH — Ten-year-old Bijli from Bangladesh already knows the cost of following Jesus. Because of her faith, she is bullied at school and her family are ostracised in their Muslim-majority village.
Bijli’s father, Badol, became a church leader after receiving biblical training through Open Doors partners. He was worried that his Muslim neighbours wouldn’t accept his family’s conversion to Christianity – and, sadly, he was right.
Across Bangladesh, this is a common story. Christians who have converted from another religion – usually Islam – suffer the most severe persecution. Often, they have to worship in secret, for fear of attack. Or, like Bijli’s family, they are ostracised when they choose not to take part in other religious festivals.
But last Christmas, Bijli was able to find a safe haven for a short time. Open Doors partners accompanied her family to a Christian centre, several hours from their village.
Around 100 Christian families came to the celebration, all believers from Muslim backgrounds from isolated, rural communities, like Bijli’s family. Many experienced being in a community of believers for the first time.
“My friends don’t want to play with me, they push me.”
This is Bijli. Her family live in Bangladesh.
“I live in a small village, three kilometres away from the city. I live in a small house on the road side. In my family my father was first to believe they my brother believed. After that I accepted Jesus. I was a little bit scared that the Muslim villagers would not have anything to do with me. Nobody wants to talk, communicate or associate with us.”
“We are worried as Christians, the village is majority Muslim. They tell us to leave because we are Christians. They say ‘You are not the same as us, in race or kind. You are of the other.’ They drive us away, get angry and quarrel with us.”
Those who leave Islam to follow Jesus often face rejection and isolation here. This is especially hard for children.
“My daughter tells me ‘They have beaten me.’ I say ‘Who beat you?’ She tells me her classmates. ‘They say we are Christians. They don’t allow us to join with them.’”
In 2019 the support and prayers of believers around the world enabled Bilji and her family to attend a Christmas celebration for isolated believers. There they could celebrate with other brothers and sisters in Christ, without fear of persecution.
“I like the singing, dancing and celebration of Jesus’ birthday.”
“I am very happy to be here, we are celebrating the birth of Jesus. We are singing carols and playing games. I feel very good.”
“In the village, we cannot have such big programs. We come here and find joy, peace. We sing songs, we dance. We can’t do this in our village.”
“I want to thank all my uncles and aunts around the world.”
About Open Doors UK
Open Doors is a non-denominational mission that supports persecuted Christians in over 70 countries where Christianity is socially or legally discouraged or oppressed. In their work, they provide vital support, training, and resources to those facing persecution or discrimination.
Resources that they provide include distributing Bibles and literature, running leadership training, assisting with socio-economic development and intercessory prayer. They also help victims of violence and disaster, including widows and orphans, with practical support such as relief aid, livelihood support, and community development projects.
Their vision is of a world in which every Christian who is persecuted is remembered and supported by other Christians. They pray for a world where there is no persecution.
- Global News Alliance, Open Doors Helps Persecuted Christian Families Celebrate Christmas
- Open Doors UK, Official Website