FMI Offers Local Bangladeshi Pastors a Different View of Rohingya Refugees

An exhausted Rohingya refugee woman touches the shore after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border by boat through the Bay of Bengal, in Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

In a newly-released video, two ex-soldiers from Myanmar confess to the mass killing and rape of Rohingya Muslims. It’s the first time anyone from Myanmar’s military acknowledged a campaign of violence targeting this people group, CNN reports.

Since 2012, armed attacks have forced between 800,000 and one million Rohingya refugees into neighboring Bangladesh. FMI’s Vincent Michael says they’re helping local pastors reach these refugees for Christ.

“A big part of working with Bangladeshis is to encourage them to be visionary, to go into places where we can’t go, and to take those opportunities instead of being scared of them,” Michael says.

Poverty presents a challenge to this mission. More people live below the global poverty line in Bangladesh than anywhere else in South Asia. “There seems to be, from the American perspective, a difference between Bangladeshi citizens and the Rohingya population that’s coming in,” Michael says.

Paradigm shift

Instead of seeing Rohingya refugees as people who need Christ and compassion, some Bangladeshis view them as competition for scarce resources. FMI offered Bangladeshi pastors a different outlook during a recent training session.

“We made a slideshow of pictures that painted the Rohingya in a more ‘accurate’ light. We showed pictures of Rohingya children crying because they were starving [and] of the bread lines. We showed some of the UN efforts to help in the area,” Michael describes.

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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Katey Hearth

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