Christmas and the Beholder of Power

Bangladesh (MNN) — This is actually a Christmas
story, but first, some background. Once upon a
time, a Burmese king named a tribal group in
Bangladesh for their wisdom. The name he chose
derives from the Sanskrit word for beholder of
power. People of this group served Burma’s kings
as translators, interpreters, and advisers of sacred
Buddhist texts. The name of this tribal group:
Chakma.
Now, some more recent history. The Chakma
resisted the migrations of ethnic Bengalis into their
lands. The conflict grew from there, only to be
quelled violently. Enmity and mistrust remain, in
spite of a peace treaty in 1997. Many members of
the tribe remain isolated in rural parts of the
country.
On his last trip to Bangladesh, Bruce Allen of
Forgotten Missionaries International visited a
Chakma village. “Bangladesh is the third-largest
Muslim dominant country in the world, even though
it’s the size of Iowa. It contains the equivalent of
half of the population of the U.S. The Chakma tribe
in Bangladesh consists of about 300,000 people,
but even though it’s in this Muslim-dominant
country, the tribe is predominantly Buddhist, so it’s
a very strange enclave.”
Allen goes on to say that the schism between the
Chakma and Bangladesh still exists. “I had to go
through three checkpoints to get in. This is an area
that’s restricted to foreigners. I had to obtain
special permission from the Bangladeshi
government even before I left the U.S. to get into
this area. The Gospel is getting into places where
Western missionaries would not have access,
simply because we’re supporting the national
pastors who already live there.”

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