Way of Life
The Rohingya are a people group from Myanmar. In 2017 the United Nations said the Rohingya are the most persecuted people group on earth. Life was difficult in Myanmar, resulting in many people surrendering themselves to human traffickers and making the dangerous journey, by boat, to other countries in Asia. In August 2017, almost one million Rohingya were driven from their homes, their villages were burned, and many were shot and killed, resulting in many people fleeing to Bangladesh where one million Rohingya now survive from day to day in refugee camps.
In other countries they are not treated well. In one Southeast Asian country the police regularly extort money from them and throw them in jail. They take risks every time they leave their homes. They need to survive, so they take dangerous jobs in construction and if their boss pays them, they try and send money back to their families. Life is very difficult for these people.
Population: 1.9 Million
Location: Bangladesh, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, and Malaysia.
Professing Christian: 0.0% professing Christian,
Beliefs & Culture
The name “Rohingya” is derived from “Rohang”, an old name for Arakan. The Kingdom of Arakan was a coastal kingdom that spread across modern day Myanmar (Rakhine State) and Bangladesh (Cox’s Bazar Division).
The people of Arakan were not always Muslims; the first Muslim settlers arrived on the coastline of Arakan (Rakhine) in Western Burma (Myanmar) about 1,000 years ago. Most of them were shipwrecked seafaring traders. They settled down and intermarried with the local Buddhist population, resulting in the local people converting to Islam.
After a citizenship law was passed in 1982, many Rohingya found that they were considered illegal immigrants in Myanmar. Their lack of citizenship made education, land, cattle, and work inaccessible. These challenges resulted in many Rohingya fleeing to Bangladesh.
Now, approximately one million Rohingya are living in refugee camps in Bangladesh. These camps were intended to be a temporary solution, but people have been living in them for over a decade with nowhere else to go.
The Work So Far
In one Southeast Asian country, one of our international workers (IWs) began to meet and hear the stories of the many Rohingya migrant workers who were in this country. In partnership with some workers from another organization, they began an education centre in January of 2013, where they taught English and Bible stories.
As the centre became known amongst the Rohingya community, more and more opportunities arose to be involved in bigger ways and partnerships were developed. In 2017 a request was made to have The Christian and Missionary Alliance IWs come and join in this work on a full-time basis and a second family joined the team in 2018.
We are engaged with many Rohingya people in our country through the centre. All the students we work with have been trafficked into our country, and they cannot leave. Since September 2017 one of our IWs has been going into the refugee camps in Bangladesh to connect with the families of our students.
We continue to visit in the homes of our students, teach them, build relationships with them, and pray that we will see the Church established in the Rohingya community, in our country, and in Bangladesh.
All the students we work with have been trafficked into our country...
How to Pray for the Rohingya
Pray for the Rohingya who struggle with identity. Many Rohingya believe lies about themselves—that they are rejected, forsaken, and forgotten. Pray that they may believe their God given identity—that they are loved, chosen, and seen.
Pray for divine healing for the Rohingya. They have been wounded many times in history. Unhealed wounds create a block that prevents a people group from hearing and receiving the message of Jesus.
Pray that the Rohingya forgive their enemies. Pray a blessing on the Rohingya, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20). Pray for reconciliation, even where there seems no way.