Bengali Christian Slayings Prompt Protest, Prayers

Native Christians from Bangladesh recently held a rally to voice their sympathy toward the families of two Christians who were martyred for their work in the South Asian nation.

The two slain Christian workers – Lipial Marandi, 21, and Tapan Kumar Roy, 27 – were stabbed to death late last month in Bangladesh’s Faridpur district after spending the last eight months providing health awareness programs to locals.

Sources report that Roy and Marandi worked for Christian Life Bangladesh (CLB), a partner agency of Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC), and showed educational films on arsenic poisoning, mother-and-child health care and AIDS prevention. In addition, they often showed “The Jesus Film” at the invitation of local villagers.

According to the UK-based Barnabas Fund, Roy and Marandi had received at least two verbal threats from the head of the local madrassa (Islamic religious school), telling them to stop showing “The Jesus Film,” which many label as one of “the church’s most potent evangelism tools.”

Campus Crusade for Christ Asia regional spokesman David Beeler told AgapePress that the two men had decided to respond to the threats by leaving the area, but before they left some intruders came into their residence in the middle of the night, about 2:00 a.m. on July 29, and stabbed them to death with machetes.

“We express our deepest sympathies to the families of Lipial and Tapan,” said Thomas Abraham, vice president of Asia CCC. “We are saddened by the hatred of those who would commit such acts of violence.”

Abraham noted an increased trend towards persecution of Christians in Bangladesh, which has drawn concern within the Christian community in America.

“We urge the Bengali government to bring the murderers to justice and uphold the Bangladesh constitution which protects religious freedom,” he added.

Last month’s slaying marked the second incident within the last two years in which Christian Life Bangladesh workers have been murdered under similar circumstances.

“This incident is chillingly similar to the killing of Hridoy Roy on April 24, 2003,” said Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund. “Hridoy became the first martyr of modern times in Bangladesh, when a group of seven Muslims attacked him with knives, and killed him late at night after he had been showing the Jesus film.”

“Religious liberty in Bangladesh is clearly under threat from zealous Muslims who seek to deny others the freedom to share their faith, using the most brutal methods imaginable,” Sookhdeo added.

Campus Crusade’s Beeler has asked believers in the U.S. and other parts of the world to pray for the Bangladeshi Christians "to remain strong and steadfast in a time of crisis like this, and that they would really know the love of God in the example of these two young Bengali men who gave their lives – gave their all – for Christ."

CCC reports that police have arrested two suspects in connection with the latest murders, and the missions organization has contacted the Bangladeshi prime minister by letter, asking for zealous prosecution.