A tutor at the Kalurghat Child Sponsorship Project teaches a Bible story to her class. Kalurghat Baptist Church has more than tripled in size since partnering with Compassion.
Kalurghat seems an odd place to start a Christian church. In this small pocket in central Chittagory, Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists make up most of the population. Back in 1983 there were no Christian churches, but not for lack of trying. The Christians visiting this community found only rocky soil and hardened hearts.
Seventy percent of adults in Kalurghat are unemployed. Those who do work earn about U.S.83 cents a day as laborers. Children are malnourished, and few parents can afford even the bus fare to the nearest hospital 30 minutes away, much less doctors' bills and medication. When people look at Kalurghat most see crippling poverty.
But Pastor Hubard Mitra saw an opportunity for God's love. Even though Pastor Mitra came to Kalurghat offering help, it was a struggle to earn the community's trust.
"In the very beginning it was difficult for me," says Pastor Mitra, founder of Kalurghat Baptist Church. "The people here didn't trust me they didn't trust Christians. But I could see how much they needed help."
Desperate for Resources
Gradually the church began to grow. Four families joined the church, and others were inspired by their faith. Still, the growth was slow. Pastor Mitra had a vision for his community, of providing medical care, food and security. But with poverty-stricken families making up the congregation, there were few resources to further that vision.
In 2006 Compassion partnered with Kalurghat Baptist Church, and together the ministries began the Kalurghat Child Sponsorship Project (BD-501). Compassion Bangladesh staff provided extensive training for tutors, social workers and health specialists at the center. Families who had avoided the church were soon lined up at its door, registering their children for this miracle program that would provide food and an education.
"Suddenly the doors were opened to us," says Pastor Mitra. "Compassion made it possible for me to communicate with people. We now see our non-Christian parents getting along with our Christian parents."
A Struggling Church Finds New Life
Pastor Mitra is excited about the role of Kalurghat Baptist Church in the transformation of his community. Those who were once the 40 percent of children not in school now arrive at the church eager for their after-school tutoring sessions. Those suffering from malnutrition, asthma and diarrhea receive regular medical care. A child with a heart defect had lifesaving surgery. The church children's ministry has bloomed from 20 children to more than 100. And a once anemic church is now healthy and active.
"Compassion has transformed our church and our community," says Pastor Mitra. "Where there was sickness, there is health. Death is now life. Praise the Lord!"
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