Sharing Christ in the Bandarban Hills
Vana is an evangelist and church planter among the Mru and Bawm people in Bangladesh. As Secretary General of the Bandarban Hills Churches of Christ, Vana has overseen the planting of 17 churches in 10 years, with over 960 newly baptised members. Vana undertakes leadership development among this network and coordinates social enterprises, such as a youth hostel providing access to education and a pharmaceutical dispensary.
Vana overflows with stories. The following fragments introduce his approach to ministry and evangelism (retold by Sam Curkpatrick).
‘What is in your hand?’ God asked Moses. ‘A staff,’ replied Moses.
Just a piece of wood. Maybe bamboo, maybe timber. Nothing special.
What is in your hand? You, reading this now. Perhaps some lunch. A mobile phone. Whatever it is – maybe even a screwdriver.
What does God do with the piece of wood in Moses hand? He turns it into a snake. He turns the river into blood. He parts the sea to let thousands free.
What is in your hand?
God will work with whatever it is, doing great things if you trust in him.
You don’t need much. Because it is not what we gather that will create God’s future. All you need is what is in your hand.
Recently, a snake bit a lady in the field. She fell down and died there, on the spot. And another person was bitten on the same day. They were rushed to hospital but died on the way.
Not that long ago, a young boy was bitten by a spider. He got very sick and died.
One husband and wife went to bed. They were lying next to each other like they did every night. The next day, only one of them got up. The other lay there, never to get up again.
Someone was pecked by a chicken and died.
That sounds strange. We often think about death as how someone dies. But it doesn’t matter how we die. We all will.
Our lives are not made of steel. Or wood. They are flimsy. Like grass, or a plant. Just twist the stalk and it breaks off.
Once we accept this, life starts to become real. Because the return of Christ is always right there, about to happen — the life of Christ that is not broken off.
When one boy loves a girl, what happens? She loves him back. And what if another boy loves that same girl? The two boys will fight.
Two people can never be the same. They will always be different, which is what it means to be human. If we don’t accept difference, there will always be fighting.
What happens when you love Jesus? He loves you back. What happens when someone else loves Jesus? They love each other because both are loved by God, in their difference.
This is the only way we will get on together. When we accept our diversity, we have unity. If we are in Christ, we are unified even though we are different.
Some people have a lot of money. Some have none. But the gospel starts in relationships, those two sitting together, on upturned buckets—nothing to do with how much money they have.
Good business is not beginning with money but with relationships.
With our own things, with money, we will never become friends with each other or God.
When you travel, you need to have a different plug to use the power. Evangelism is like that.
When I visit villages, I drink whatever anyone gives me. I eat anything, even if it is too spicy. A Gentile among Gentiles and a Jew among Jews. Otherwise people will not know that you are there for them.
Why did Jesus choose a donkey? This is a dirty animal. It eats in the dust while all the other animals eat good food. It works hard. Why didn’t Jesus choose a white horse, or an elephant? Because he is humble. And God is humble. Jesus came to ride with us. With dirty people.