Bangladesh (MNN) – About one million Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh in a refugee crisis that the UN is calling the worst it has seen in decades. Why? Because there’s no hope for these refugees to return home.
Rohingya Refugees Flee Home
A Rohingya refugee camp near the border with Myanmar, around Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Photo Courtesy of James Tan)
“Their homes have been destroyed back in Myanmar. Their crops, their livestock have been eradicated, burned. So, there’s no home for them to go back to,” FMI’s Bruce Allen shares.
“So now, you have these stateless people who feel very stuck. And then Bangladesh is one of the world’s poorer countries. So, they can’t do this on their own.”
Allen says these refugees are packed into a small area between the short border of Bangladesh and Myanmar. Now, because of the volume of people in the area and the fact that they are persecuted Muslims fleeing a non-Muslim country, a lot of these refugees have been overflowing further into Bangladesh, a welcoming Muslim-dominate country.
In fact, Bangladesh is now making plans to clear out 1,000 acres of forest lands to make room for all the incoming refugees and to set up more camps. However, this won’t be enough. Camps are temporary shelters and these people will more than likely be in Bangladesh long-term.
Scars, Pain, and the Unknown
Furthermore, a lot of refugees are arriving with physical injuries from the attacks they face in Myanmar. Pregnant women, especially, are in need of care.
“I know of one young man whose elbow was shattered by a bullet back in Myanmar. He’s getting treated in a hospital in Bangladesh now,” Allen shares.
And in the face of all of this need, FMI partners are trying to help.
“FMI does have church planters serving in that area and others who have come from different parts of Bangladesh to come down and minister to the refugees. They’re going into the refugee camps and interviewing them, finding out what is their status,” Allen shares.
One of the pastors associated with FMI (wearing head bandana), serves as a translator for a team interviewing the refugees. This pastor’s church also supports several Bangladeshi children’s Sunday School classes in the area.(PhotoCourtesy of James Tan)
“Tell us your stories and what are your immediate needs. But also, often people think of immediate needs just being physical. But now, [here are] opportunities to talk about spiritual needs; which are ultimate and eternal.”
However, to keep helping refugees, FMI’s partners need a bit of help, too. Already these partners are stretched thin trying to take care of themselves and their own congregations.
But, despite this, they’re still willing to give a bit more of themselves to help these refugees. They just need the resources to do so.
“One of the major needs [partners have] is travel, getting to these refugee camps. Getting in and among the people,” Allen explains. “We have a church planter or two who live in that area, but others who’ve come in to assist– they have to return and go back to their own communities. You know, to serve their churches to be with their families.”
Right now, a lot of partners can only afford to come in for a week or two at a time since they don’t live in the area. And even those who are in the area still have to travel a ways to continue to do ministry among the Rohingya people.
After all, one million people spread across a border is going to take space. And it’s that space that these church planters are trying to cover. What these partners are asking for now is additional support that can cover the expenses of getting to and from these camps, and the needed supplies to take care of the Rohingya people.
And, if the opportunity arises to set up Sunday schools to teach the Rohingya about Christ and the Gospel, the church planters will need for supplies for that as well.
Will you consider partnering with FMI to support these pastors?
Also, please pray for wisdom and provision for FMI partners as they navigate how to best serve the Rohingya people both tangibly and spiritually. Pray for the Rohingyas’ spiritual, emotional, and physical health as they try to reorient their lives. And finally, pray for these refugees to find both peace and Christ.
Help support FMI partners here!