Dear Friend of the Persecuted Church,
What would you do if a mob destroyed your home then threatened to kill you – unless you reject Jesus and follow Buddha?
This sounds unimaginable. For some new Christians, it is a reality they face every day.
It is an especially dangerous reality in places where your life and livelihood depend on your village or community, and government officials are incapable or unwilling to take on a religious mob.
That is what happened to Reny.
Reny is a small, gentle woman from a rural village. I met her in Bangladesh.
She lives in an isolated, violent area. I was one of only a handful of foreigners in nearly a year to enter the region. We had to pass through security checkpoints and get prior approval from the government. Six armed policemen escorted me from village to village.
Reny was a Buddhist. One day she saw a Bible. She had never seen one before.
She read the Psalms and Proverbs and asked where she could get a Bible. She walked to another town and bought a worn-out Bible with the cover torn off.
She loved to read it.
At first, Reny thought Buddha and Jesus were the same. Then she realized that Buddha said there is no end of suffering. Buddha did not heal the sick. Buddha did not offer eternal life.
Jesus heals the sick. He offers eternal life.
Reny believed in Jesus. Two boys and four women were baptized along with her.
But their village found out. That’s when the problems started.
“Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith,” I Peter 5: 8 – 9
The new Christians were banned from the village or participating in society.
The father of the two boys who were baptized was afraid. He sent them to Buddhist monks who shaved their heads and held them hostage in a monastery until they re-converted to Buddhism. Two women also converted back to Buddhism.
Reny prayed for her family’s salvation. Her father was hungry for eternal life. He would make clothes and give presents to Buddhist monks to earn a better life. She told him that Jesus is the only Lord who can save you. After five years, her parents believed.
The villagers saw that her family was blessed. But when they learned her family had become Christians, the villagers forced them out. This belief was a small seed now, the villagers said. It will grow and destroy us.
The villagers burned Reny’s family home. They took their land and animals. Everything. The family was forced to sign a document – they would be killed otherwise – stating they could return to the village only if they return to Buddhism.
Reny’s father forgave the villagers.
He used to have a good job and was well-off in his village. Now the family makes baskets to sell. They barely had enough to eat. A kind family in another town lets them stay in a small house made of woven plants. Sun, rain and insects pour through the holes in the walls.
Her father had one request. When he died, bury him in his village.
But the villagers refused. Reny buried her father secretly, in the dark of night.
Reny knew they may have problems when they believed in Jesus. Be prepared, she told her parents. But she never dreamed the village would turn against them.
“Did you ever regret becoming a Christian?” I asked her.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” I Peter 5:10
“Never,” Reny said.
“Jesus had answers and healed people. Buddha did not solve any problems. He said that suffering continues endlessly.”
“Society” – the villagers who caused her so much pain – “cannot save me from hell or give me eternal life,” she said.
Reny’s future (on earth) is uncertain. Only the certainty of eternal life with Jesus gives her hope and a solid foundation. She shares this with everyone, especially tribal people in her area, and teaches in a house church.
Christian Freedom International is helping her family, and other persecuted Christians, with their basic needs. We are also looking for a new place for them, and others like them, to live and ways to sell their beautiful baskets.
We even have big dreams of a building where Christian converts in this restricted area could safely live, get an education (beyond middle school), and sell their handmade items.
Can you contribute to help with rent, materials to make hand-made items, education fees, Bibles and training materials? Gifts of any amount will help!
Would you pray and give for Reny and persecuted Christian converts like her?
P.S. Reny – who was cast out of her village because she believes in Jesus Christ – shows us how to endure persecution. She and other persecuted Christians give us a shining example to follow. Would you pray that Christians in America will be as firm in our faith as Reny? You can help Reny and others like her through Christian Freedom International.