Christians within the Rohingya people are twice persecuted.
First, for their ethnicity as Rohingya people. The UN considers the Rohingya the “most persecuted people on earth.” Homeless, stateless, poor and hungry, they have been the victims of Myanmar’s genocidal campaign against them since the 1970s. Renewed waves of persecution have forced another four hundred thousand into neighboring Bangladesh in the past few months.
Second, for their decision to follow Jesus. Although the majority of Rohingya are Muslim, approximately 300 of the 1.4 million Rohingya have come to Christ in the past twenty years, mostly through the witness of one family living in a refugee camp in Bangladesh.
I met that family when I visited the camps this summer. The father is the first known Rohingya to follow Christ. He has personally led more than two hundred people to faith in Jesus, helped establish five churches among his people, and started a Christian primary school in his camp.
His eighteen-year-old son, Arman,* served as my guide and translator. He bore a fresh scar across his nose from a recent beating from Muslim neighbors in the camp. They had been waiting for him outside after a prayer meeting, wielding knives and sticks. Despite this opposition, Arman is passionate about reaching his people for Christ.
“I request with my heart that my Christian brothers and sisters all over the world keep Rohingya Christians in your daily prayers. I heartily believe God has a good plan for my people.”
Walking through the camps with Arman filled me with despair, but it also gave me a newfound understanding of the need for Christ. When everything else is stripped away, Christ remains. It was life changing to meet Christians who own nothing but still possess a joy and desire to share the hope of Christ.
Stories of the Rohingya have populated our newsfeeds again the past few weeks as the ethnic cleansing intensifies. The Rohingya are desperate to escape the murdering of their families and the burning of their villages. They all need our prayers. The few hundred Christians among them especially need the intercession of their brothers and sisters around the world.
A Letter from a Christian Rohingya in a Bangladesh Refugee Camp
In a recent letter from Arman, he asked Christians to pray for all Rohingya, but specifically for their fellow Christians:
It’s raining here in Bangladesh, and the Rohingya situation is very bad now. Nearly 370,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh in the last few weeks due to the ongoing genocide in Myanmar. Most of the newly arrived have lost everything: husband, wives, children, and homes, and many have been wounded by the Myanmar military. They lack food, shelter, and proper medical care.
There are seventy-eight families who are followers of Jesus, and we (my family and me) are taking care of them. They have all converted from Islam to Christianity. They are mostly my relatives and neighbors from Myanmar. Even though they escaped Myanmar, they are not safe because a terrorist group, Al Yakin, has formed within the Rohingya and has targeted the Christians, my uncle specifically. He has been running from them for four months.
My uncle and his group of Christians are praising God that Jesus is the real God and he saves everyone who follows him. They are praising God that they safely reached Bangladesh. Please continue to pray for the seventy-eight Christian families in the refugee camps.
- Rohingya Christians to be strong in their faith, even amid persecution from other refugees.
- all Rohingya to have enough food to survive day to day. They are given rice by a local non-government organization, but that is all.
- a safe shelter in Bangladesh so that they can help lead others to know Jesus and establish churches.
- proper medical care. There are mobile clinics but the resources are inadequate and the needs are abundant. People suffer from malnutrition, burns, wounds from their journey, and sicknesses.
Some believers from our people were unable to reach Bangladesh as the weather was bad and they are still trying to escape Myanmar. I request with my heart that my Christian brothers and sisters all over the world will keep them in your daily prayers. I heartily believe God has a good plan for my people. I pray God will make a way where there is no way.
Thank you for praying,
Nicole Leigh is a writer with the IMB. She and her family have been doing life in Europe for more than two decades.