Lessons from Bangladesh

I talked to a Bangladeshi Christian leader who was deeply concerned about how his people were attached to the western forms of church that had been handed down to them.

He told me how they learned to think it’s of upmost importance for them to build nice white churches with crosses on top, which were a big offense to the hostile Muslim community around them.

They would build these churches, and then would suffer bombings, or attacks. The buildings would be destroyed, and then would persevere in building more buildings, only to face more bombings and danger. They were holding on tenaciously to that nice white steeple church that they learned from the foreigners to build and establish, and it was wearing them out.

This Bangladeshi leader said he was always trying so hard to get his people to see that they didn’t need to build these expensive, offensive buildings. It was enough for them to be the church and meet together. But it was so hard for them to understand and accept this, after being conditioned by the years of missions work before.

“They can bomb and destroy those buildings in 5 seconds,” he would tell them, “but they can never destroy the church.”

The treasured trappings foreign workers carry with them, whether they be buildings, programs, or cultural forms, often become heavy burdens the locals bear painfully for generations.

Jesus brought something simple, so let’s carry something simple forward.

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