by Lisa Barrowclough
Lambeth Conference Communications
Seasonal floods reported in Bangladesh may threaten the livelihoods of farmers in his diocese, Bishop Michael Baroi of the Diocese of Kushtia in the United Church of Bangladesh said. Bishop Baroi is attending the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops in Canterbury.
The flooding has "become part of our lives," he said, because the riverbeds are so filled with silt that they cannot hold all the rain. "This is only the beginning," he said, since the monsoon season has just started. Monsoon downpours can last from seven to 10 days, he said.
Bishop Baroi said he extends "every sympathy, especially to those who have lost crops." This is the time of sowing in Bangladesh, and the flooding can mean that farmers and their families will be left with nothing. "Once the crop is lost or damaged," says Bishop Baroi, "they are under debt for life, contributing to the great poverty of the nation of Bangladesh.
As the Lambeth Conference considers the issues of international debt, Bangladesh will be one country identified, according to the terminology of the Jubilee 2000 campaign, as a "debt loaded country," Bishop Baroi said.
In his ministry, he said, he struggles with this great poverty of his country, and said that if he had the chance to ask one question of God it would be: "Why have you given some so much and some so little?" He claims that he cannot understand, but that he does have hope.
Hope is the work of the Church in Bangladesh, he said. Only 0.3% of the nation's population of 120 million are Christians, and among them there are 14 thousand Anglicans. The church is very heavily involved in the concerns of society through social development programs. "We are a poor church," says Bishop Baroi, "but our mission is for the poorest!" The church does make a difference in the lives of the people and of the nation, he said, because "there is God, and He will look after us."
Bishop Baroi added that he has also found this hope here at Lambeth among his colleagues from around the globe.
"There is always hope, because we have started talking," he said.