For over twenty years, through our relationship with the Bangladesh Baptist Church Fellowship and the Tripura Baptist Christian Union, we’ve partnered with five hostels throughout Bangladesh and India, and currently sponsor 228 young students thanks to the generosity of New Zealand sponsors.
The support provided pays for school fees, books and all associated hostel boarding costs. It even assists with wages for the hostel staff.
The hostels provide education for children from nearby villages, along with a home during the school year. Each hostel has a manager, matrons and staff who take a loving interest in the children. They also provide spiritual nourishment with devotions and prayers being an integral part of hostel life.
Those who sponsor a child give more than education. In places like Bangladesh, Christian families can be disadvantaged because of their poverty. Likewise, in Tripura, children from remote villages with few resources have little opportunity to develop the skills that will, in the future, open doors for them.
Pastor Martin (Pastor, Feni Hostel)
Feni Hostel is one of five hostels where students are sponsored by New Zealand Baptists. Recently, we met with Pastor Martin who gave us an insight into life at Feni Hostel and his pastoral work within the wider community.
As pastor of the local Baptist church, Pastor Martin is heavily involved in outreach and ministry in the tribal areas and is the convenor of the Feni Boys Hostel Committee. A gracious man, Pastor Martin is proud (in a most godly way!) of the Christian work that takes place in his region: “When we started our work here it was with the hill tribes where the main tribe is the Tipera people,” he explains. “We would go to the villages and preach the gospel. In those days there were no believers and no churches. Today there are almost 100 churches.”
We came to Feni Hostel to talk about the students but once Pastor Martin begins to speak of the Tiperan people coming to faith, his passion takes over: “This tribe had no religion of their own. Some claimed to be Hindu but they were more animist. They knew nothing about gaining salvation or having a relationship with God. Also, they are very poor with no real standing in society. The story of Jesus’ love transformed their lives. At first there was some opposition to people becoming Christians. Early on, two of our village churches were burnt down and a couple of new believers were taken and beaten, but people still came to Christ. Now there is no opposition because those who had been negative have themselves become Christians.”
With that, Pastor Martin begins to talk about Feni Hostel. “When we started our work here we decided we would not give people money. We have been helping them through education and healthcare. We built this hostel and have brought many students here and helped them. They now have good jobs and can help their poor families and communities. From small children, students are growing into leaders. We have some students who came here from very poor homes. Now they are working, and not just casual labouring jobs. We have educated managers, accountants and supervisors. Some have even gone to foreign countries to get a university education. And in this area, many of the church leaders have come from the hostel.”
Pastor Martin considers the long relationship that New Zealand Baptists have had with the churches in his region. “New Zealand Baptists support our hostel and some Baptist missionaries are helping to train our pastors. There are others who are praying for us. We still need help however: our hostel building is very old and we are praying that we will be able to build new accommodation. We also have new students coming and we hope they can be sponsored. I want to say thank you to New Zealand Baptists. Thank you for your help and your prayers. For all things, we are very grateful. You are helping our children and that will bring change to the futures of all of us.”
A note from Angela Cossey (Student Sponsorship Coordinator)
In July 2014, I had an amazing journey. Somewhat reluctantly, I left the cold of Darfield on the Canterbury Plains and travelled to the sweltering heat of Tripura. It was in India that I saw my first children’s hostel and met some of the 228 students who are currently sponsored by New Zealand Baptists. I recognised immediately each child’s hunger for learning and the need for others to be sponsored so that they too can have the opportunity for an education. That moment etched itself onto my heart. Recalling my initial reluctance to travel, I suddenly found myself not wanting to leave!
Back in New Zealand, I have been given the opportunity to do something tangible and to participate in the care and education of these young people. I see God’s hand in this and his love for these children is overwhelming. He took me across the world to help me see something new that I could do for him.
Angela Cossey has been appointed Student Sponsorship Coordinator for the five hostels that New Zealand Baptists sponsor in India and Bangladesh. Contact details below. We would like to acknowledge the tremendous work of Helen McMullan who has overseen the child sponsorship work for the past twelve years.
Sponsor a child’s education
You could be a part of providing an escape from generations of poverty, creating a new legacy for children and their families. We currently have nineteen children awaiting sponsors including:*
- Tapash, a ten-year-old boy whose family is extemely poor. A local pastor recommended Tapash be accepted onto the sponsorship programme.
- Chandrapoti, who has just arrived at one of our hostels. Aged eight, her parents have struggled to provide for her, so being sponsored to stay at the hostel would transform her life.
- Nine-year-old Lesonjit, who comes from the poverty of a remote village where his father works as a day-labourer and education is not a normal expectation.
- Shantana, a cheerful nine-year-old girl. She comes from a far-away community in Bangladesh, where her father works as a day-labourer on a tea plantation.
Sponsorship is $45 per month.
To give a child an education through the NZBMS Child Sponsorship Programme, or to find our more, email Angela Cossey at [email protected] or phone 03 318 8688. You can also visit the Tranzsend website here.
*We cannot guarantee these four children will still be available for sponsoring. However, we can guarantee that there will be children whose lives can be transformed by your generosity.