Supporting pastors in Bangladesh Through the Pandemic

In some developing countries in Asia, we received news about pastors dying from COVID-19 from time to time, which resulted in a leadership vacuum at churches where these pastors served. With churches being shut under the lockdown policy, the offerings have dropped sharply. We cannot help but wonder if the local churches and pastors can sustain to serve the congregations and the communities under the arduous circumstances.

A few months ago, the Asian Development Bank issued a report revealing that the COVID-19 pandemic has plunged about 80 million people in developing Asia into extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.90 a day. In Bangladesh, one of our project countries, the cumulative number of COVID-linked deaths reached nearly 28,000 as of the end of November. The pandemic has severely devastated the social economy and the Christian communities, a small minority in Bangladesh.

To fight the pandemic, Bangladesh has repeatedly implemented lockdowns to restrict population movement, which only hit harder for families already living in poverty.

Our partner from Bangladesh [1] said that in rural areas, the tithing of church attendants before the pandemic was already far from enough to support the basic needs of church pastors’ families. Hence the pastors had to do other work on weekdays, for example, farming, fishing, carpentry, sewing, livestock breeding, small business, etc., and serve in the church on weekends. During the lockdowns, the church ceased gathering with no offerings, causing an overall decrease in their income. A Christian organisation supporting persecuted Christians worldwide has recently pointed out that Christians were often excluded from government aid distributed by local authorities because they were severely being looked down on as a community. We can imagine that the pastors experience greater discrimination accessing public goods and services. Our partner reported that many pastors from rural areas face difficulties in their livelihoods and have turned to them for help.

CEDAR has decided to allocate over HK$155,000 to support our partner in subsidising 100 pastoral families (total 600 people) from 16 church denominations across 13 regions in Bangladesh. Each pastor will receive nearly HK$1,200 to purchase necessary tools and materials to earn a living, while the remaining funds will support the partner’s administrative expenses and visiting budget. We believe that our aid to the pastors in need will make a lasting impact on the survival and sustainable development of the rural churches in Bangladesh.

In this project, our partner will talk with the recipient families to understand the side commitments of these pastors outside churches and allocate suitable tools and materials for their needs. When the partner and the pastor’s family reach a consensus, the partner will take the responsibility to purchase materials for the pastor in ensuring that the subsidy is used for its purpose. In addition to sending the purchased items to the pastor’s family, they will also communicate with the pastor regularly to give them advice and support.

Please pray for the pastors in Bangladesh and support our relief work through your offering. Your generosity will enable us to help them through difficult times.

[1] National Christian Fellowship of Bangladesh (NCFB) was established in the 1980s. It has been advancing Christians and the churches in Bangladesh to spread the gospel across the country through prayer, Bible study, relief and community development. In addition to shaping the local Christian communities into praying, sharing and maturing churches, NCFB coordinates development programmes that facilitate the transformation of the poor lives and communities.

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