By Mark Ellis
Sandwiched between India and Myanmar, Bangladesh is the third largest Muslim-majority country in the world. Often beset by floods, cyclones and tornadoes roaring through the Bengal Delta, it also has the sad distinction of ranking number one in the world for children suffering malnutrition.
Bangladesh is 89% Muslim and nearly 10% Hindu, according to the Joshua Project, with Christians numbering less than one percent.
One ministry leader, who recently completed a fact-finding trip to the country, believes Christians are being undercounted. “Christianity is much larger and growing, especially in the rural areas,” says Jim Jacobson, president of Christian Freedom International (CFI).
On his trip, Jacobson interviewed scores of indigenous Christian pastors, street evangelists, missionaries and converts to Christianity. “According to them, Christianity is on the increase and the growth is a cause of concern for the Muslim majority,” he notes.
“As a result, persecution is on the increase against the fast growing, mostly underground Christian church.”
One 60-year-old pastor, a former Muslim, reported to Jacobson that 20,000 Muslims have converted to Christianity among the hill tribes of northeast Bangladesh in the last 12 months. This pastor faces many hardships, has been beaten numerous times, and must pay bribes to police to continue his ministry.
Another pastor and Muslim convert to Christianity told Jacobson that in his district more than 6,000 have converted to Christ since 1991. This pastor has been targeted for assassination by ISIS. He told CFI, “Of course I am afraid, but when I think about my spiritual life I am not afraid. We continue to preach no matter what.”