In the aftermath of Super Cyclone Amphan, many thousands of persecuted Bangladeshi Christians are desperate for urgent aid. Open Doors partners were already providing Covid-19 aid in the area, so could scale up distribution and support.
15 June 2020
If a pandemic weren’t hard enough, nine districts of Bangladesh were devastated by Cyclone Amphan in late May.
Half a million Bangladeshi people have lost their homes and a further 9.5 million have been badly affected. The death toll was mercifully low, with ‘only’ 20 people dying as a direct result of the storm, but the wider impact is likely to be felt for a long time. Through local partners, Open Doors is helping over 1,500 persecuted Christian families.
Bangladeshis in the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan
The reason Open Doors partners were able to help hundreds of families very quickly is because they’ve been working in the area for many years. “These are all families whom we have worked with before in other projects,” says Sam*, who coordinates the work of Open Doors partners in South East Asia. “These are established connections. And often, when we visit one Christian family, they tell us about another Christian family that is also in great need.”
With these connections, and with your ongoing support, Open Doors partners should be able to reach even more families than they initially planned. And now they’re not just reaching them with emergency relief because of coronavirus – they’re helping people rebuild. Sam’s team are helping to rebuild the homes of 120 families, at a cost of approximately £2,000 a house.
Most of the Christians affected by Amphan are from a Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist background. When believers in Bangladesh have converted from a different faith, their families and communities often ostracise them and won’t provide help in circumstances like these. And in tribal societies like rural Bangladesh, you can’t survive without community.
Sam puts it starkly: “People may die, or convert back to Islam, if they don’t have the means to survive.”
These communities are discriminating against believers when official aid is distributed – aid intended either for those who’ve lost their jobs in the ongoing coronavirus crisis or who need emergency relief after the super cyclone.
Without your prayers and support, many Christians would certainly die of malnutrition and starvation Pastor Sam*
“Governments are giving assistance to a lot of people, but many Christians, especially those who come from a Muslim background or a Buddhist background, are not receiving the support when it goes to the villages,” says Sam. “The village head normally discriminates against the Christians. They say, ‘Well, you're Christian. You became a Christian so you are not part of this support.’”
Thanks to your ongoing support, Open Doors partners in Bangladesh can keep supporting those affected by the Cyclone Amphan, as well as continuing work related to the coronavirus crisis – and in many cases, of course, the same persecuted believers will be affected by both crises.
“Without your prayers and support, many Christians would certainly die of malnutrition and starvation, or decide that following Jesus is too hard,” says Sam. “Many of these new believers only have a fragile faith and need to become stronger in the Lord. But because of your prayers and your gifts, beautiful things are happening.”
* Name changed for security reasons
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