"Jesus is my inspiration. He helped the people. I want to do the same, too."
This is Mansuri’s* purpose in life. "Jesus died for me. And He taught us to love our neighbours as ourselves," she says.
Mansuri has overcome many obstacles in her life. Born into a Muslim family in Bangladesh, she came to faith in Christ in 1996. She married Rahim*, a Christian from a Muslim background. Her family reluctantly accepted her choice, but Rahim's family disowned him because they considered Mansuri to be 'socially inferior'.
The couple ended up living with Mansuri’s family.
"It was actually a blessing in disguise as Rahim took the opportunity to share the gospel with my family," says Mansuri.
As her family observed Rahim, day in, day out, they noticed he was different: before he ate, he prayed; before he travelled, he prayed.
A year later later, her whole family - father, mother, two brothers and one sister - were also baptised into the Christian faith.
'We love our parents'
Bangladesh is number 48 on the Open Doors World Watch List.
As Christian converts, Mansuri and her family continue to face persecution. Her children have faced insults and bullying for being Christianer Baccha (meaning 'child of Christian').
Rahim’s family continue to pressure them as well. At one point, Mansuri and Rahim were forced to sit in the middle of a family meeting and were pressured to return to Islam. Her in-laws also tried to force their children to return to Islam, and spoke badly about their parents. But Mansuri and Rahim stayed strong, and their children stood with them, saying, "We will remain in our Christian faith and we love our parents".
Helping Mansuri to stand strong
Understandably, though, the pressure took its toll and the family moved to Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka.
It was there that Mansuri discovered Open Doors’ Annana Discipleship Training. This free training brings groups of Christian women together to support one another during times of persecution and hardship, and to learn how to share the Good News.
Mansuri joined the classes in 2015, graduated a year later, and is now leading classes herself. Ten women gather weekly at Mansuri’s house, including her daughter.
Living like Jesus
Mansuri has also started a programme for children living in the slum area near to her home. She gives them breakfast and teaches them Bangla, English, Maths, drawing and singing.
She also leads groups who go into the slum to sweep the roads in front of the homes of families they are helping.
"We are supposed to be different as children of God," she says. "Jesus always helped the poor. I am inspired by that and I want to help the poor too."
*Names changed for security reasons
HOW CAN I HELP CHRISTIANS IN BANGLADESH?
You can provide vital support for courageous Christians like Mansuri and Rahim
Open Doors works with local churches to support persecuted believers in Bangladesh through training, literature distribution, socio-economic development and providing relief to victims of persecution.
£12 could provide four Bibles to encourage persecuted Christians from South East Asia in their faith.
- For Mansuri, Rahim and their family as they continue to face persecution. Pray that they will stand firm in their faith in the Lord
- For the work of the Annana Discipleship Training program
- For God to give opportunities for Mansuri and her family to share the gospel.