Easter, Bangladesh, and terror threats

Bangladesh (MNN) — In the last year, Bangladesh has experienced a heightened number of terrorist attacks. So many, in fact, that BBC News is wondering if Bangladesh is even winning the war against terrorists. And with Easter quickly approaching, there’s great concern that Christians will be targeted this holiday weekend.
Bangladesh’s ‘9/11’
Rural church in Bangladesh. (Photo courtesy of FMI)

In July 2016, Bangladesh had what some have called the country’s ‘9/11’. It was a wake-up call for Bangladesh when a popular café in the city of Dhaka was attacked. More than 20 people were killed, many of whom were foreigners. Since then, Bangladesh has tried to step-up its security to protect the country’s people and to find the terrorists.

Furthermore, Bangladesh has been bumped up nine spots on Open Door’s 2017 World Watch List, reflecting the country’s increase in violence. And despite police raids on potential terrorists and the confiscation of destructive materials, this doesn’t mean Bangladeshi Christians are in the clear.

“The Christians are nervous because they know they are in the crosshairs of militants. And that seems to be a prime time for attacks,” FMI’s Bruce Allen shares. “So, even though police or military are raiding these dens of militants in Bangladesh, they’re very well aware that, perhaps, someone was preparing to do an attack on their church or congregation during Easter time.”

Believe it or not, rural areas tend to be targeted more than cities for terrorist attacks. Allen says this is because there’s a longer response time for medical personnel and police. This makes it easier for terror attacks to escape without consequence and seemingly unnoticed, except by the victims.
Walk Together
However, there are ways for Christians outside of Bangladesh to come alongside the Bangladeshi Church. For example, you can support the national churches with evangelism tools.

A pastor and a church member role-playing during the conference in Bangladesh to practice using their Snapshot packets. (Photo courtesy of FMI)

“We’ve already run out of [Snapshot] packets to give to pastors, evangelists, and the church members. So if we receive funding, we can print more of these packets,” Allen explains. “A gift of $50 provides a church with ten more packets. A gift of $100 provides ten packets plus onsite training.”

The Snapshot tool is a set of images to help evangelists effectively communicate the Gospel story and God’s love with others. It’s also a catalyst for jump-starting conversations and building relationships through which to share the Gospel. Click here to learn more about the Snapshot tool in Bangladesh! 
Will You Pray?
Another way for Christians to come alongside the Bangladeshi church is through prayer.

“We pray for their courage, for their stamina, for their wisdom in understanding and assessing the risks that their particular congregation may have,” Allen shares.

“Pray that they would see the opportunities God has presented to them and take advantage of them for explaining the Gospel to everyone who asks, ‘Why do you have hope in such a dark world? What is it that brings you light? What is it that give you assurance?’”

Pray also for God to provide what these churches need, whether it be evangelism tools, a fence around the church, or even just encouragement. And pray for all who hear the Gospel to respond to Christ’s love and redemptive sacrifice.

“I asked them (members of our national leadership team), ‘What would you want to tell the Christians in other countries about your situation?’” Allen recounts. “And, more often than not, they’re just saying, ‘A great power is in prayer. So we ask all Christians around the world to pray for us. Not only for us, but also pray for the terrorists, because we know that God can change their minds and their hearts.’”

To find more ways to help, click here!

Find out more on how to pray here!

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