Modern Bangladesh has many similarities with the country Serving In Mission’s founding fathers encountered in 1893.
While most Bangladeshis accept the reality of God, very few are Christians; the gospel can produce hostility; the climate is tough and the culture is hard to understand.
But, just as Walter Gowans, Thomas Kent and Rowland Bingham were not deterred by those problems in Africa, so today’s SIM workers in Bangladesh are pushing forward with the good news of Jesus.
One key part of that strategy is the Bangladesh Bible Correspondence School, which has played a vital role in distributing gospel materials to people across the country since it was founded in 1958.
Less than one per cent of the country’s 160 million people are Christian but BBCS has helped many of them come to faith and then stay strong in their faith.
BBCS has just four local staff and operates from a small office in Dhaka but still teaches up to 500 students a year.
Much of the material is posted out but there are also three and five-day workshops and seminars, which help equip students to handle God’s word and become Bible teachers themselves.
Around 120 students a year complete the full course — roughly 25 per cent of the intake, up from just 10 per cent five years ago. An increasing number of graduates are going into ministry.
The school is desperately short of money, as it seeks to fund staff, an office, travel and the production and distribution of the materials.
By the grace of God, the school has been granted a five-year government licence to operate but needs to reprint all the teaching material.
The budget for the 2016–17 financial year has been set at the equivalent of £35,000 and for the next five years at £195,000. A set of books for one student is £8, a Bible is £5 and a three-day workshop for several students is £250.
There is an urgent appeal for project funding in order to keep the BBCS going — if you would like to donate please click here and quote project number 98026.
Just as those first SIM workers were beacons for Christ in a country which did not know him, so BBCS is a beacon in a predominantly Muslim country where hardly anyone has heard the good news of Jesus.
Give thanks that the gospel seed is being planted daily in Bangladesh and for the devotion of BBCS staff.
For the students to take God’s word seriously as they study and put their knowledge into practice.
For generous donors to be raised up so the work of BBCS can continue for years to come.