Three men visited Pastor Luke Sarker in his home in Bangladesh’s north western Pabna district in October 2015, pretending that they wanted to know more about Christianity. During their conversation, the men attacked the pastor with a knife and attempted to slit his throat. Pastor Sarker was only saved when his wife and neighbours came to the rescue.
Bangladeshi Christians make up just 1% ofa population that is 9o% Muslim, making them easy targets for attack by Islamic radicals. Several churches were burned last year and new converts to Christianity are particularly vulnerable to discrimination and attack. It is not illegal for Muslims to convert to Christianity, but converts can face pressure from family members and neighbours to renounce their new faith. Those who have shared the Gospel with them can also face attacks by the local community. This is particularly the case in rural areas.
Bangladesh is a secular country and its legal system makes it one of the most tolerant Muslim-majority countries in the world. Unusually for a Muslim- majority country, its constitution recognises the rights of minorities not only to practise their religion, but also to share their faith with Muslims. The hard line Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, is not allowed to take part in elections. At various times in the past, the party had not only been free to operate, but had collaborated closely with ruling governments. The political situation in Bangladesh remains very volatile and an explosive and violent struggle between secularists and those who want to Islamise Bangladesh mean that freedoms for Bangladeshi Christians could come under threat if extremists are able to take power.
Pray for God’s protection over Christians across the country and in particular as they share the Gospel with neighbours and relatives. Ask especially for God’s protection for Muslim- background converts to Christianity. Pray also for peace in the country and for wisdom for the secular government to know how to effectively quell lslamist uprisings.