Area: 143,998 sq km
Occupying the delta and floodplains of the Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers, with high rainfall and frequent flooding.
Population: 164,425,491 Annual Growth: 1.43%
Official language: Bengla; English also used Languages: 46 All languages
Largest Religion: Muslim
|Religion||Pop %||Ann Gr|
Bengali people are by far the largest unreached people in the world, numbering around 240 million globally. The majority live in Bangladesh and India, but large communities live in Britain, the USA and elsewhere. It was to the Bengali that William Carey went as a missionary. Although they revere Careys memory, the great breakthrough has still not come after 200 years. There are signs of the trickle becoming a flood, however. Pray specifically for:
a) Muslims, who number over 140 million in Bangladesh alone. The Bengali are claimed as Islams greatest missionary success. But the majority follow folk Islam a blend of Sufi-influenced Islam, indigenous culture and Hinduism. Pray for:
i Openness to the gospel the vast majority have never heard the true gospel.
ii More workers given their population, the numbers committed to reaching them are pitifully few (perhaps only four Protestant missionaries for every one million Bengalis). Pray for a surge in Kingdom workers committed to the evangelization of Bengalis.
iii Those who have responded many have remained in their cultural/religious context while committing their lives to Jesus. Pray for the nurturing of these followers; pray for leaders who model biblical values and lifestyles, for God-honouring worship patterns and for cultural relevance without compromise of biblical faith. They often face social and family pressure to renounce Christ and opposition from some Islamic leaders. Pray that new believers may experience dependence on God in poverty, firmness under persecution, evangelistic vision and unity with other established Christian communities from differing cultural backgrounds.
b) Hindus, who feel increasingly vulnerable as a religious minority there have been many incidents of violence and persecution against them. Pray for this hardship to spark openness to Jesus. Some followers of Jesus remain within the Hindu context and do not link with foreign Christian bodies. There are 228 Hindu people groups and/or castes, of which 204 are classified as least-reached/unreached. Only among 14 groups has there been any significant response. The upper castes have remained resistant to the gospel.
The tribal peoples very existence is threatened as the Bengali population explosion pushes further into traditional tribal lands. Several peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts suffer from this slow squeeze; their lands and even their culture are under threat as Islamization accompanies Bengalization. Pray for a just settlement the granting of limited autonomy to the region has not improved the situation much. Pray also for Christian agencies seeking to bring tribal peoples to Christ (Global Interaction, ABWE, BMS, GFA, IMB, Presbyterians and Lutherans). Some groups are almost entirely unreached while others have large Christian populations.
For an additional 11 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.
The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of Bangladesh.