Inside Out

We had our most profound experience of being outsiders last month as Bangladesh celebrated Eid. We had been looking forward to Eid with some curiosity. It was obvious from the food in the shops that this would be a time of feasting and as promised, the streets of Dhaka had been emptying as people travelled to be with their families. What we had not anticipated was how it feels to be watching an entire community celebrating and not to be part of it.

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We had given ourselves a day off from Bangla learning, but weren’t sure how to spend it. As we stood on our balcony we saw people visiting their families, carrying pots of food from their cars into the apartments. The whole area was noticeably full of children, playing and parading their new clothes. Sounds of laughter filled the air. Watching from the fourth floor heightened our sense of being observers, not participants.

Since Eid we have thought a lot about how it feels to be an outsider. For us it was an inevitable part of being newly arrived in a different culture. This is our new home, but it is obvious that we do not come from here. Now we face the challenge of attempting to move from the outside in. Being an outsider can bring some benefits: we can see things with fresh eyes and enjoy every day experiences because for us they are still new. There is always the option to remain as a detached observer, but we would rather move in and become as much a part of life here as we can.

As we listen to more stories we are hearing how insiders can also feel like outsiders. Questions about belonging are complex and we have so much more to learn.

imagesNJNXKHUBInside BBCS

The BMS national partner in Bangladesh is the Bangladesh Baptist Church Sangha (BBCS), the oldest and largest Protestant denomination in Bangladesh. The office headquarters are in Dhaka, a mega-city of over 16 million people in a country of 170 million people. The Christian population is less than 1% of that number so there are many challenges for all Christians in Bangladesh

20180504_145944The BBCS office buildings are in an area of the city called Mirpur. The office itself is much like many offices. It includes conference and training facilities and it is a hive of activity. On any given day you might meet pastors from India, church planters from Bangladesh, Compassion or World Vision trainers as well as the dedicated staff team who serve BBCS and it’s social, health, education and development work that operates through the SHED Board. It is a vital strategic base, but the work that it supports is largely outside of its walls.

Please pray for Ashim Baroi (BBCS General Secretary). In all our conversations with him, we are struck by his passion for the gospel and for his country.

IMG_0843BBCS is made up of the members of churches, pastors, schools, hostels, hospitals, training facilities and more. It is all of the people who work in them and all those who benefit from their work. Every day there are many subtle challenges and unseen barriers to negotiate as well as the obvious ones generated by the geography and socio-economic climate of Bangladesh. Insiders can also be outsiders! Pray for the protection of BBCS workers and wisdom as they make decisions and exercise leadership and compassion.

The BBCS website can be found at: bbcs.org.bd