The Church of Bangladesh is one of a small number of united Churches found in Asia. In addition to being a full member of the Anglican Communion, it is also a member of the World Council of Reformed Churches. This Sunday (19 January), Anglicans around the world will pray for the Church of Bangladesh as part of the Anglican Cycle of Prayer. Here, its Moderator, the Bishop of Kushtia, Samuel Sunil Mankhin, introduces his province and sets out prayer pointers.
Though we have rich history and massive evangelical works in this country, the Church of Bangladesh (CoB) presently is facing few challenges in experiencing a recent cold wave, we are frightened of the impact of war signals between the US and Iran, and internally the CoB is combating the challenges to pay the regular monthly salary for almost 100 priests and catechists.
We need your prayer to our Almighty God. To be self-reliant the CoB is trying to formulate a strategic plan project with the financial support of the Anglican Communion Fund (ACF) and United Society Partners in the Gospel (USPG) in the UK. By the grace of our Lord Jesus there are many partner churches and organisations who are with the CoB as we step forward.
Cold wave: A cold wave is sweeping over different districts of Bangladesh, disrupting normal life and causing suffering to people. The districts of Chuadanga, Dinajpur, Panchagarh, Rajshahi, Pabna, Naogaon, Nilphamari, Jessore and Kurigram are mainly experiencing the biting cold during the last few days. On 19 December, the lowest temperature was recorded in Chuadanga district 7.9 degree Celsius.
During this first spell of sudden cold weather with winter’s arrival, the dense fog at mornings continue to disrupt communication by road, waterways and air. In general, this may not seem particularly low, but Bangladesh is a tropical country, where people are not prepared for cold weather and most homes have no form of heating. The normal life and activities are greatly hampered.
According to the weather forecast moderate to thick fog would continue to hamper visibility. The Meteorological Office said that there will be another cold wave in the mid of January. Chilly wind from the north continued to cause deep distress, particularly to the low-income people.
At least 9,500 people have been treated by government hospitals in 40 districts for cold related diseases. Experts say that this is being caused by the effects of climate change. The domestic flights schedule has been hampered. People need blankets and warm cloths. Government authorities have distributed 28,700 blankets among the cold-hit poor people.
Hot wave as indication of war: The Christian community in Bangladesh is small: nearly 0.05 per cent of 165 million people. But we are visible for our humanitarian activities especially health and education. Most of the majority Muslim community people know where we live. When our country people hear about any war between Muslim and western countries, they think the western people are all Christian and they are killing Muslims. Therefore a revenge sentiment grows and they find a logic in quick time to attack our community and establishment.
This creates a bad environment which some use to mistreat us. So war means a big loss for our community in Bangladesh. We are afraid of hearing the news of war. It sounds a devastating situation is being created in the long run. So we need to pray so that war should not be started at any cost for any reasons.
Uncertainty of clergy salary: For almost all the last decade, the CoB has faced difficulty in paying salary for the full time clergy. The province has no adequate endowment fund to generate income for the monthly payment for almost 100 church workers including priests and catechist.
Presently the church locally can only raise enough funds to meet 10 per cent of the cost. I am working with church leaders to look for ways to solve the prevailing problems of sustainability. However, though the CoB is a royal church it has been passing very bad time to run its ministries for His kingdom. As the scripture mentions according to Luke 10:7:
Stay at the same house, eating and drinking whatever you are offered. For the worker is worthy of his wages. Do not move around from house to house. Really the workers need wages for affording their families.
Let us pray for our people to face the challenges.
O heavenly Father!
You are almighty, you have created us and you are looking after us from our start on the earth. We love you dear kind God. We experienced that you are just and caring to us always.
We thank you so much for the support in our livelihoods in midst of worst climatic situation too. Please hear our prayer so that we can sustain in this land and witness your love and peace even in the war among the other people who do not know you properly. Bless our works in your name so that we can be salt in the world of huge challenges and survive in your precious name.