From goat rearing to adult literacy classes, your gifts and prayers are making a huge difference to the lives of vulnerable Christians in Bangladesh.
Your gifts and prayers often support the distribution of Bibles, provision of emergency food or essential trauma care. But sometimes persecuted believers need something a little unusual: for families in Bangladesh, that happened to be goats.
Most Christians in rural areas of Bangladesh work as day labourers and small farmers, with tiny and often unpredictable income. They depend on their daily earnings to sustain themselves and their families, and often it isn’t enough. Most of the churches in rural areas of Bangladesh are small gatherings in people’s houses: they are very close, but the small churches don’t have sufficient money or food to share.
That’s why local Open Doors partners have introduced a goat-rearing programme. Vulnerable families can use the programme to earn extra income, and gradually become independent. Each family is given two or three goats for rearing, committing to donate the first-born goat kid to the church so that another family can begin their own goat-rearing. That way, one blessing can be multiplied throughout the church.
There are many benefits to rearing goats. Female goats give birth at least twice a year so it doesn’t take long for recipients to gain profit from this programme. Goat meat is expensive and in high demand, so the project generates enough income to support a whole family.
One of the Christians who received goats through this programme is Madhobi. She suffers from speech and hearing impairments and has difficulty walking – all these disabilities make it very hard for her to find a job and get an income. Christians already face increasing persecution in Bangladesh, but Madhobi is also vulnerable to discrimination because of her disabilities.
Despite what she suffers, Madhobi is strong and determined – and says that her faith in Jesus is the hope that keeps her alive. She received two goats in the midst of the pandemic, and they are thriving: she has been able to give two goat kids to the church already, rather than just the promised one.
“We are very thankful to you for your kind heart for our family.”KANTESHOR
“I am very happy. I am very lucky,” says Madhobi. “My goats are growing quickly. I will give two goats to the church. I will rear many goats and I will sell them, and support my family with the money.”
“We wanted to rear cattle but could not afford them,” adds Kanteshor, Madhobi’s husband. “This is good support for our family. We can earn good money by selling the goats. We would like to buy a cow with the money we make. I hope this will change our future.”
The couple are so pleased that this programme is helping their future look much brighter. “We did not expect something like this to happen,” says Kanteshor. “We are very thankful to you [local Open Doors partners] for your kind heart for our family. God bless you!”
This programme isn’t the only way that Bangladeshi believers are receiving support. An adult literacy class initiated by local Open Doors partners aims to help thousands of vulnerable Christians gain skills.
“Before, I could not read the Kitab [Bible],” says Jinara. “From this class, I have learned how to read and write. I have come to know many stories from the Kitab and I can tell them to others.” Even more amazingly, it was through encountering the Bible first-hand that Jinara decided to follow Jesus.
A large percentage of people living in rural communities in Bangladesh are illiterate, so these programmes are much needed. There are more than 200 adult literacy centres across the country, and this particular class has helped at least 3,000 men and women learn to read and write in 2021 alone.
Sumi, an adult literacy teacher in the northern part of the country, is very passionate about her church and the people in her village. She currently leads a class with 15 students, many of whom are Christians who have converted from Islam – often the most vulnerable to persecution. The village where Sumi lives has very few Christians, and she hopes that more people will come to know Jesus as their Saviour. Her dream is to build a local church in her village where believers can congregate in freedom.
“Now they can read the Bible and know how Jesus Christ worked and did miracles.”SUMI
“I want to win the villagers by the words of God. Someday all villagers will have salvation. They will worship and pray to the Lord,” said Sumi, “This is not only my dream, but this is also a dream of my father, and my family. We were once Muslim, but when we met Jesus, everything changed, and we want the other Muslims to know the truth and come to the Lord.”
Sumi also helps members of the programme read the Bible. Believers who were once unable to read and understand the Word of God on their own can now read and understand Scripture for themselves. “They are coming to know the stories in the Bible,” she says. “Now, they can read the Bible and know how Jesus Christ worked and did miracles.”
One student, Kohinur, said, “I have learned many stories from this class. I tell these stories to my children and husband. I love this class. Now I can pray, and I can also help others to pray.”
“This year, through this adult literacy class, three women have received Jesus Christ in their personal life as their Saviour and the Lord! They were baptised in August 2021,” says Sumi. Every year, more people are added to the local churches.
Both pastors and teachers are very thankful to the Lord and to local partners in Bangladesh. “We are moving forward gradually to our dream of winning the villagers for the Lord. Our Lord is with us, we are working together,” says one pastor.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus. Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.