Story
11 April 2024

Sunday school shut down by mob in Bangladesh

A Sunday school for Christian children from Muslim backgrounds has been forced to shut down in Bangladesh, after a group of Muslim women stormed the group and threatened people.


Sunday school
A Sunday school in Bangladesh was stormed by a group of Muslim women (illustrative image)

Here’s an agenda that no Sunday school teacher would want to use:

  1. Read a story from the Bible to the children
  2. Answer some questions about Jesus
  3. Pray together
  4. Suddenly stop when a mob storm your Sunday school.

Many of us grew up going to Sunday school, or perhaps have children, grandchildren, nephews or nieces who go now. It’s an important part of church life, where young people at the beginning of their faith journey can learn from Jesus, hear from the Bible, and be introduced to the worldwide body of Christ.

For one group of children in Bangladesh, however, the agenda played out in a devastating way. Their special time together came to an abrupt end when a group of local Muslim women stormed the Sunday school.

“They became very angry and very aggressive”

All 15 children attending the Sunday school in south west Bangladesh come from families that have converted to Christianity from a Muslim background. It’s one of 16 Sunday schools in different parts of the country that are run by local Open Doors partners, thanks to your support and prayers. It’s a place where, as with any Sunday school, they can learn about Jesus and ask questions to older Christians. But they were in the middle of a session when a group aggressively halted it.

"They became very angry and very aggressive toward the local Christians." Sunday school teacher

“They were forcing and demanding to stop the Sunday school class,” says one of the Sunday school teachers who was present. “They then became very angry and very aggressive toward the local Christians and started threatening to hurt them.”

The woman leading the mob is a member of an extreme Islamic political party. She brought a group of predominantly women to the Sunday school, protesting that all Christian activities should cease in their Muslim-dominant village. These women falsely accused the Christians of forcefully converting Muslims to Christianity. They confiscated some of the Sunday school material, then built up resentment among the villagers by alleging that Sunday school teachers were teaching the children ‘wrong things’.

Local authorities side with the persecutors

These protests continued, to the point that they came to the attention of the local political leader. An arbitration meeting was held shortly after, where the Muslim women demanded that the Sunday school be permanently shut down.

"We are not doing any wrong by conducting this Sunday school." Sunday school representative

“The Sunday School class is only for the Christian children, and we have the right to teach our children about our faith and religion,” said the Christian representative, during the arbitration meeting. “We are not doing any wrong by conducting this Sunday school. They [the persecutors] do not want to understand the rights of the Christians.”

This opposition is a common experience for Christians from a Muslim background in Bangladesh, whether children or adults. No matter where they go, they always face hindrances and persecution for practising their faith and participating in church life.

Unfortunately, the local leader of the village sided with the persecutors and instructed the Christian representative to stop all Sunday school activities. Currently, the Sunday school teacher is looking for a new location where it’s safer for these courageous young believers to gather together.

Open Doors partners helping look for a safe place for Sunday school

Akter*, the leader of the Sunday School, converted from Islam herself. She has been left very fearful of persecution after this incident. Her community is mostly Muslim, and the small number of Christians feel very outnumbered. While the Christian parents want to send their children to Sunday School to learn about the Bible, they are deeply concerned about the safety of their children.

Currently, Akter is looking for a safe place where she can continue the Sunday school class. She’s asked for Open Doors supporters to pray that the Sunday school will be kept safe, and for the future of the children. Open Doors partners are prayerfully looking into the situation, and seeing how they can help the church. Please pray for the young students so that they can learn about the Lord Jesus Christ through this Sunday school – if you’re able to, would you consider asking the children at your Sunday school to join in praying for their young brothers and sisters in Bangladesh?

*Name changed for security reasons


Please pray
  • For God’s protection over all the children, Akter and all the Sunday school leaders, and that they would find a safer location to meet
  • Praise Jesus that He asked little children to come to Him – ask that He would speak into the minds and hearts of these young believers
  • That decision makers in Bangladesh would recognise the value of freedom of religion, and permit Sunday schools and other Christian gatherings to go ahead.
Standing Strong 2024

 

Come and meet the risk-takers of the persecuted church at this year’s Standing Strong. With regional events taking place all over the UK and Ireland, find your nearest Standing Strong and book your place today!

 

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