2016 News

Called to Live with the Mru

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

When the Bandarban Hills Church of Christ (BHCOC) advertised the opportunity for an evangelist to live within the Mru community, David knew this opening was for him: “It was my dream from the day I became a Christian (in 1998) to serve Christ among unreached peoples”.

In 2014, David, his wife and two young children, began their mission to share the love of God with the Mru community, 150km from their home. They knew it would be challenging, and David’s wife was concerned: “How will we live in the new community when we don’t know their language, culture and lifestyle? Culture is different in rural areas where traditionally women do not wear tops and men grow their hair very long. It is also a long distance from our relatives when we have young children.” After long discussions, David and his wife decided to step out in faith, despite these concerns. “It is the right time for us to be sent,” they said.

Before David’s arrival, the Mru community had never heard of Jesus.  They are influenced by Animism, Cramadi, Hinduism and Buddhism. It is not uncommon for people in the same family to follow different religions. When they see someone becoming a Christian and noticing the difference in their lifestyle, it spreads and others become Christian too. Sometimes the conversion process starts with the chief of a village, but not always. A family in the Mru community can consist of around 20 people and there are quite a few families who live together in the village. Initially half of the village responded positively to what David taught about the Bible, and then ten of the people decided to be baptised. During the year other pastors were also sent to visit the village regularly and to teach about the gospel and how to follow Jesus’ way of living. By 2015 the whole village said they were believers. The village now models the godly living taught by David and by the visiting pastors. 

The BHCOC is also finding ways to meet the social needs of the Mru community. Some of the struggles people experience include intoxication from drinking rice beer, as well as high illiteracy and very poor sanitation. Providing primary school classes has taught people how to read the Mru alphabet and the Bible: “We would love for all the people to be able to read the Bible, write script and sing songs.” David has seen God move through the providing of physical needs of the village members, for example, giving them blankets or materials for making clothing. “This shows them and also the villages surrounding them that we are one in Christ, not just Bawm or Mru, and we love one another.” The BHCOC also hopes to one day establish a church building for gatherings and to be in a position to host a Mru church conference once a year. “We wish to develop the water projects in the village and to begin a pharmacy in the region for better access to healthcare. The pharmacy will enable income and support the local people, as well as open a door for outreach. More than 1500 people will be beneficiaries.”

The influence of the church is already reaching beyond the Mru and into neighbouring villages: “we are standing together, praying together, sharing our faith and love, working together and helping one another.”  International Church Partnerships support seven evangelists like David who travel to remote areas and communities to mentor locals to help lead the community. To date pastors and evangelists have reached a further six villages surrounding the Mru community and approximately 310 people have been baptised! You can donate to the work of evangelism in Bangladesh. You can also watch a video of the work in Bangladesh below.

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