LETTER from BANGLADESH
Warmest greetings from the Church of Bangladesh. I am writing this from Savar, our Retreat-cum-Conference Centre, about 20km away from 54 Johnson Road, Dhaka. All the Bishops, Clergy, our wives and two Sisters from the Christa Sevika Sangha, two Sisters from Haluaghat and two Brothers from the Oxford Mission gathered here together over a Retreat and Conference from 2nd September. We shall stay together, pray and listen to the word of God together until the 7th. The theme of the Conference is God, in your grace, transform your creation. On the morning of the 8th we will go back to our own places spiritually energised.
Today is the 4th September. We have ordained David Mridha into the office of Deacon. David passed his Bachelor of Theology from our St. Andrews Theological College, and is now stationed at Saidpur, up in the north of Bangladesh. Some of his relations and some of the students from St. Andrews were also present at the Worship Service. Later we had a fellowship meal together. It was indeed a very joyful occasion.
Would you believe that we had to inform the police that we would be having our conference at our centre in Savar? There were and are still police around us for our protection. This is very sad but it is our reality these days.
You will have heard about the bomb blasts on 17rh August in Bangladesh. These happened in the cities and towns of 63 districts out of 64. About 500 bombs exploded at about the same time between 10-11 a.m. all over Bangladesh. It was done by a terrorist group or groups, who claim themselves as fundamentalists and are undoubtedly very well organised. It is suspected that they have connections outside the country with some powerful terrorist groups, and that they receive financial help and instigation to do these kind of activities. This time they did it with the intention of warning the nation of their presence, and there were not many casualties.
The following day there was a news item in the daily newspapers that they will kill the religious (Hindu, Christian and Buddhist) leaders, which was even more shocking to us. We brought this to the notice of the Government, and they have given police protection to almost all the churches, temples and pagodas. The Government is doing its best to stop it. Police have arrested many suspects and are now interrogating them and gradually trying to unmask the people involved. The news we get every day is indeed very shocking and frightening.
Growing fundamentalism and terrorism have become a real threat for us. Please pray for us and for our country. This is the beginning of September and it seems, and we hope and pray, that we will be spared this year from flooding. We are shocked indeed to hear about the Katrina tragedy in New Orleans. We deeply mourn for the deaths and the worst damage done by the hurricane. We are also sorry for the untold sufferings of the people affected. A few weeks ago there were floods in Germany and in Central Europe. Taiwan also had a bad hit from a hurricane. We experience these when the wounds of the Tsunami are yet to be healed. These are due to global warning, and are perhaps the signs which God wants us to see and read very carefully for our future. Maybe it is time now for all the nations of the world to wake up and do something about the ecology and environment. Because Nature does not and will not spare anybody, no matter how powerful they are.
May God in His grace transform us and transform His creation.
RT. REVD. MICHAEL S. BAROI
Moderator, Church of Bangladesh