10-year-old Bijli* and her family are one of a few Christian families in their village in Bangladesh.
They face rejection and isolation from their Muslim community. This is especially hard for Bijli. But a Christmas celebration organised by Open Doors local partners help to show Bijli and her family that they aren’t alone or forgotten.
One afternoon in December, Bijli and her family arrive at a Christmas celebration organised by Open Doors’ local partners. After hours of travelling from their village in Bangladesh, they finally reach the Christian compound on the edge of a city –a safe place.
“Do you remember why we’re here?” Bijli’s father asks her.
“To celebrate Jesus’s birthday!” Bijli replies excitedly. “I can’t wait for the singing and dancing!”
“I want to eat Jesus’ birthday cake!” her brother Mohon says.
The driveway to the compound is lined with trees that have colourful fairy lights hung between them. Some of the local Open Doors team greet them and take their bags.
A group of girls ask Bijli, “We were going to play a game of hide and seek. Would you and your brother like to play?”
Soon, there are 100 Christian families at the celebration. All are believers from Muslim backgrounds who come from isolated rural communities, just like Bijli’s family.
For some, it will be the first time they have met with so many other Christians –and the first time they will celebrate Christmas.
Dinner is delicious daal, chicken curry, and rice. They sing songs of praise to Jesus, clapping and enjoying the freedom to worship God at the top of their lungs, with no fear of who might be listening.
“We can’t celebrate in this way in the village because of the restrictions and fear of persecution,” Bijli’s father explains.