More than 500 Nazarenes celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Church of the Nazarene in Bangladesh this February.
Prodeep Roy, a 65-year-old Nazarene in Bangladesh, had a personal reason to join the Silver Jubilee.
“Today I thank God because many years ago I received Jesus Christ through the Nazarenes," Roy said. "Today is a day to thank God for his blessings to us.”
Roy is one of the thousands whose life was changed forever thanks to the global Church of the Nazarene bringing the gospel to Bangladesh.
In 1993, the church began in this South Asian nation with just a handful of members. Today, members meet in thousands of churches across the country.
At the Hope Center in Bangladesh, Roy and hundreds of Nazarenes of all ages representing these churches crowded into an open-air tent for the Silver Jubilee in the country’s capital of Dhaka. They sang, prayed, celebrated the past faithfulness of God, and looked to His promises for the future.
Praise and gratitude
The gathering acknowledged that all the credit for the church’s existence and growth is to “the movement of the Holy Spirit,” said Milon P*., JESUS Film and child development coordinator for the Church of the Nazarene in Bangladesh.
It was also a time to express gratitude to the “passionate people from the USA and Europe and other parts of the world who invested their time, resources, and talents to make this happen,” Milon added. “It’s a clear movement of church planting and church growth, and it happened because of the partnership of many passionate people from the nation and internationally.”
General Superintendent Eugénio R. Duarte shared words of encouragement for the Bangladeshi people.
“In 25 years of mission, so much has happened under the transforming power of God’s presence in us," Duarte said. "Many things have changed in and around us. Changes and adjustments continue to be a significant part of our daily life experience; they also [provide evidence of our] mission. Bangladeshi Nazarenes, with their hard, devoted, and tireless work, are very well represented in this celebration by their local and district leaders.”
Repentance and forgiveness
During the celebration, there was also a moment of repentance and reconciliation. Led by Eurasia Regional Director Arthur Snijders and joined by Bangladeshi district superintendents and international denomination leaders, the church prayed for the need to correct a conflict that happened two years prior.
National, regional, and international Nazarene leaders gathered on the platform to symbolically break the bottom stems from long stalks of budding flowers. In this way, they expressed that the sins of the past called for repentance and forgiveness, while also acknowledging the many blessings that God had given in years past. The stems were brought to the wooden cross on the platform, like the sins and blessings being placed under the Lordship of Christ again.
“It portrayed a truthful and honorable picture of the work in Bangladesh," Snijders said. "True repentance and a new turning to the Lord of the church always holds the promise of new growth and life now and in the future.”
The message of healing reconciliation was intended to bring the church back together in forgiveness and unity.
“That sent a very important message to Bangladeshi Nazarenes,” said Trino Jara, field strategy coordinator for the church in South Asia. “What happened in Bangladesh two years ago was our corporate fault and not just the people in Bangladesh. We repented and asked for forgiveness to our God together. We walk hand in hand in this mission called the Church of the Nazarene in Bangladesh. The presence of the international church leaders during the celebration was seen as the needed reassurance that we are a body and the Bangladeshi Church of the Nazarene is part of the global family.”
Mr. Snigdhozzwal K.*, a longtime local Nazarene leader, recalled the Church of the Nazarene's history in Bangladesh.
“We faced many setbacks, but we overcame all of these with the grace of Almighty God," said Snigdhozzwai. "By the church, thousands of people recognized Jesus Christ and received Him as their Savior. We are taking care of them faithfully by our leadership. We are working for God and God is seeing us from heaven. We need your prayer and support to continue our ministry.”
Snijders shared about the responsibilities the church in Bangladesh must take on and the vision it should embrace in order to continue developing its national faith.
“Incredible growth still requires the development of depth and maturity; these do not come without trials and testing,” Snijders said. “Paul emphasizes that ‘suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope’ (Romans 5:3-4, ESV). Our Nazarenes in Bangladesh show that revival and heart holiness belong together.”
Among the guests were representatives from other denominations and Christian organizations, rejoicing together with the Church of the Nazarene. During the celebration, a 25th anniversary yearbook was distributed — including the history of Nazarenes in Bangladesh — and a Bengali version of Nazarene Essentials and Invitation to a Journey.
*Full names withheld for security reasons.