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Literacy in Bangladesh is low. Many who are counted literate do not read easily or well. There are many small language groups with little or nothing of the Scriptures available. The need for culturally appropriate audio and audiovisual materials that clearly presents the truth of God's word is immense.
A major strategy has been to resource pastors, evangelists and other Christian workers of every denomination with easy to use but effective Bible teaching materials. The GRN team visited more than 130 mission centres, churches and organisations, most of whom have taken recordings and picture materials to use in their outreach and teaching ministries. These materials are now being used among the several different religious communities in the country.
At three major denominational celebrations a total of 19,000 people gathered. The GRN team were there and many non-Christians as well as believers came and bought the Gospel tapes and picture materials. Following are a few of the many stories that could be told.
Mawlana (title of respect for a Muslim teacher) Ali is a Muslim Priest and a prominent local leader. He was invited to attend a big church celebration in February where GRN Bangladesh had a stall. He came every day and in between the meetings he would walk around to meet with local people and look at the different stalls. He came to the GRN stall and was fascinated by the wonderful picture books but was unsure of the story they told. When he found some of the picture books with the story written inside he read carefully and later listened to the stories on the cassette. His interest in Jesus grew and he bought several of the picture books, cassettes and a Messenger hand wind cassette player.
A few days after the celebration, Mawlana Ali rang the GRN office to order more cassettes and picture books. He explained that he had been listening to the cassettes and playing them to other people also. They wanted their own copies! We need to pray that this influential man and many others also will come to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
Pastor Philip works in an area where about half the population are Buddhist. A year or so back, the GRN team visited his church and he purchased some of the Bible picture books and cassettes to use for teaching and evangelism. He said he found them easy to use and very effective. People were able to understand and remember the stories very well. One day four Buddhist men were walking past the church on the way to the market when they saw Pastor Philip holding up the brightly coloured pictures and telling a story. They stopped to listen and got interested in the stories of Jesus. Pastor Philip encouraged them to keep coming to see him and to join in the church service and learn more about God. They did this and a few months later all four of them gave their lives to Jesus and were baptised.
They faced considerable opposition from families and other village people but their faith grew strong. Their lives had changed for the better. Before, they drank a lot, gambled and behaved badly and had no peace in their hearts. Now they were at peace and were learning to live well. They did not want to go back to their old lives but decided to trust Jesus to watch over them.
Disha is a young married woman from the majority community. She too visited the GRN stall at a big church celebration and was captivated by the colourful picture books and bought a Good News pocket booklet. She was given a copy of the cassette that went with it and two cassettes called The Living Christ. The next day, Disha returned to the stall having read all the stories and listened to the cassettes in the privacy of her own room. She had really enjoyed the stories and purchased more picture books and cassettes to learn more about Jesus Christ. She asked if the GRN team were able to give her a copy of the Holy Bible to read. They were able to give her a New Testament.
Recently in a phone conversation Disha said she was reading the New Testament. Please pray that she and her whole family might come to Christ and be saved.
Bible Society Project
For the past three years the Bible Society of NSW has provided substantial funding for the ministry of GRN Bangladesh. Along with the regular funds supplied through GRN Australia this has made it possible for the team in Bangladesh to expand and enhance its ministry considerably.
The funding has enabled GRN Bangladesh to print large quantities of the Good News and Look, Listen & Live) Bible picture materials, import hand wind Messenger cassette players from GRN Australia, make more recordings in several previously unrecorded languages, put on extra staff to help distribution, and produce and distribute large quantities of gospel cassettes and picture books all over the country.
The funds also contributed to training, equipment and other support functions. In short, the Bible Society grant has enabled the GRN team to connect thousands of people with God's word in a way that they can understand and relate to.
The special funding is now over but the recording and distribution will continue. Many have discovered the value of GRN materials and are keen to use them. We are grateful to God and to the Bible Society of NSW for their wonderful and generous assistance.