It’s not always in ways that we expect, but God delights to answer our prayers in ways that are above what we even ask or think. During a recent gathering of our church planters in Bangladesh, we received exciting news of how God exceeded our expectations in regard to intercession for Pastor Arjun.
Simple footbridges – uneven and without side rails – often span ravines and rivers in rural Bangladesh, and link the dirt trails that connect one remote village to another.
Arjun’s tribal village is located in an extremely remote area which is traditionally Buddhist – somewhat of an anomaly for Muslim-dominant Bangladesh. Since he began ministry with FMI in 2012, Arjun’s church has grown steadily; eventually, about 10% of the 500 people in his village began to follow Jesus. Some of Arjun’s church members eagerly accompanied him on three-hour hikes (each way!) to share the gospel with people in other villages.
The growth of Christianity did not escape the notice of local authorities. During a baptismal service for six new believers, the village leader interrupted the gathering and prevented Arjun from baptizing the final four individuals. The chief threatened the entire congregation with expulsion from the village for following Jesus Christ; he forbid any more baptisms and any more conversions.
FMI quickly mobilized people around the world to intercede for this endangered congregation – to pray they would be able to stay in their homes, and that Arjun would have wisdom and courage to lead his congregation during days of uncertainty. Days turned into weeks, and people continued to pray.
Recently, FMI sponsored a on-going training conference for pastors and interns in Bangladesh. Arjun shared his concerns with the other pastors and more prayers were offered. On the final day of the conference, Arjun received a phone call from his wife who excitedly informed him that the chief had just rescinded his decision: The Christians may now stay in their homes, worship freely, and resume baptisms! But that’s not all…
The chief’s reversal came about during a meeting with leaders from other villages. As they discussed what do about the growing number of Christians in the region, one leader encouraged the others to allow Christians to remain in the villages since they are good citizens. This man then confessed that he, too, had become a follower of Jesus Christ. In addition to sparking the change of heart for Arjun’s village leader, this man’s testimony prompted the leader of another village (about a five-hour hike away from Arjun’s area) to invite Arjun to come and evangelize in his village and to disciple the few Christians who already live there.
Pastor Arjun’s previously-interrupted baptismal service has been rescheduled for Easter time. And in the weeks that follow, Arjun and his team of evangelists will fan out across the remote hills – not to seek new places to live, but to joyously spread the good news of the Risen Savior in surrounding villages.
Be involved where God is on the move and help provide pastors like Arjun with motorcycles so that they can spend fewer hours hiking and more hours in direct evangelism and discipleship.