Feature Article: Reaching The Forgotten With The Word
This article was originally posted in our September 2020 Word@Work.
Reaching The Forgotten With The Word
—Interview with Bishop Philip Adhikary from Bangladesh Bible Society
Despite having a population of about 164 million, only 0.4% of people in Bangladesh identify as Christian. Even though Christianity is largely considered a minority religion in the country, this does not deter Bishop Philip Adhikary from dedicating his life to spread the Gospel to those around him.
Currently serving as the Chairman of the Bangladesh Bible Society and the Chairman of the Christian College of Theology in Bangladesh, he also plays the role of an evangelist and Bible distributor—the main ways in which he fulfils his calling to proclaim God’s Word in Bangladesh.
In this edition of Word In Action, we speak with Bishop Adhikary himself to find out more about Bible Mission work in Bangladesh, as well as its partnership with The Bible Society of Singapore (BSS) to translate the Word Intake for Spiritual Edification (WISE) Audio Bibles into Bengali.
As the Chairman of Bangladesh Bible Society, what are some of the challenges you face in your ministry?
“My vision is for all to come to know God’s Word,and for everyone’s salvation. That is why we’re very involved in Bible distribution—to Christians, to the community, and our neighbours in Nepal and Bhutan. However, sometimes they do not accept it when we say that God is Holy, and His Word is Holy. But we pray that God will provide good opportunities to build good partnerships with these communities so we can spread His Word.”
Could you share more details about the Bangladesh Bible Society’s partnership with The Bible Society of Singapore (BSS)?
“We are working to adapt the material from the WISE Audio Bibles for use in Bangladesh. Audio Bibles are very important because some aren’t interested in reading, some people—especially the elderly—are unable to read, and some are unable to see. But with Audio Bibles, they can listen to the Word, and they can still grow spiritually.”
This year, BSS has pledged $40,000 to support Bible Mission work in Bangladesh, where the Bangladesh Bible Society intends to run Bible Listening Programmes for the illiterate, as well as the poor and needy. The long-term goal of this programme is to create a lasting impact in the lives of the participants—which will not only equip them to read the Word of God but also empower them with vital skills that could create more employment opportunities for those in need. Aside from ministering to the local communities with Scripture engagement, there will also be a distribution of daily essentials and supplies to the poor and needy in order to provide them with holistic care.
Apart from partnering with BSS to reach the nations with the Living Word, Bishop Adhikary will also be working with SowCare and the Alliance of Guest Workers Outreach (AGWO) to show care for the Bangladeshi guest workers in Singapore.
Caring for the Nations Amidst COVID-19
The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 this year has resulted in many families struggling to feed themselves all over the world. As of the time of writing, Bangladesh has seen more than 300,000 confirmed cases. To respond to the needs of the local communities, the Bangladesh Bible Society has begun an emergency food assistance programme to help 3,000 families living in remote villages. Some of the items distributed to these families include rice, onions, potatoes and cooking oil. Hygiene kits will also be given to these families. The cost of these supplies—which will help to sustain a family for 2 weeks—is $20. In addition, plans have also been made to start a Scripture and Audio Bible distribution exercise, with a target of 5,000 Bibles. Each Bible costs a mere $9, taking into account production and delivery fees.
Due to the ripple effect of the COVID-19, many other countries are also in dire need of help. In Mongolia—a country where 28.4% of the population lives in poverty—many are rendered helpless as they have lost their jobs as a result of the virus. The loss of all income for these communities means that putting food on the table has become a nearly impossible task.
A similar situation is seen in Peru, where 45% of the urban population live in shanty towns. As of the time of writing, the country has seen almost 613,000 cases of COVID-19, which has had a devastating impact on the population in terms of their safety and economic security.
In these difficult times, the Bible Societies in these countries have stepped up to provide for the needs of these struggling communities, through the provision of food and Scripture—to meet both the physical and spiritual needs of these people.
Ms Dina Katanacho, Director of the Arab-Israeli Bible Society, shared that COVID-19 caused many families to struggle with a mixture of feelings—fear, anxiety, stress, and anger. Many of them were also struggling with maintaining their faith during quarantine. To respond to these new needs, the Arab-Israeli Bible Society organised a series of online workshops to equip parents with skills to bond with their children and encourage them to persevere in the faith.
Although some steps have been taken to mitigate the struggles and problems of these people groups, there is still much to be done in order to effectively minister to them and transform theirlives. BSS hopes to be a beacon of light to these people during these dark times; we hope that you will join us in making a difference today!