A letter from Les Morgan in Bangladesh
July 30, 2010
Moving Deeper Into Mission
Last month we moved our residence in Dhaka from the newer north end of town to the older south end, an area called Old Dhaka. The decision to move was not easy, because Old Dhaka is a more congested and impoverished area. Dhaka as a whole has 12 million people, and with over 100,000 people per square mile, it ranks as one of the most densely populated cities in the world. You feel the crowds most in Old Dhaka, where rickshaws clog the narrow lanes, vendors block the sidewalks and you wonder where all these people sleep at night.
We are grateful to have found a decent place to live, in a neighborhood called Wari, an enclave of nicer apartments and wider roads than in the rest of Old Dhaka. The location is convenient for our work. From our previous home in north Dhaka, we had been spending two hours on a bus to get to this part of town. Now, traveling to our clinic sites across the Buriganga River is easy because the river is only 15 minutes away by rickshaw. Furthermore, from the river port, called Sadarghat, we can catch an overnight boat to Barisal, a district in southern Bangladesh, where we help health programs improve their outreach through community nurses. North of our place, just 20 minutes by rickshaw, is Dhaka’s central rail station, called Komlapur, where we can board a train west to Rajshahi to help out at Christian Mission Hospital and support the community health programs in that area. Trains run to the north, too, where we assist community clinics along the border with India.
Located also in Old Dhaka is St. Andrew’s Theological College, an institution of the Church of Bangladesh offering a Bachelor of Theology degree to persons studying for the ordained ministry. Cindy and I have started teaching at the college a course entitled “The Healing Ministry of the Church,” which explores the biblical, theological and practical aspects of Christian ministry to the sick, with special reference to ministry among Muslims. The course also examines the environmental, social and behavioral causes of disease, so that students understand better why people become ill. The goal is to prepare students to serve the sick compassionately while also addressing the root causes of their suffering. For the students’ practical training we bring them to the bedsides of patients in local hospitals and to the homes of those we have treated in our clinics. Most of our patients are Muslim and live in slums in and around Old Dhaka.
Although the decision to move to Old Dhaka was not easy, being here allows us to nurture deeper relationships with the sick and needy. Ministering in the name of Christ to those who suffer is part of the church’s evangelical calling to bear witness to the gospel. We pray that our presence, our words, our touch and our friendship may themselves be part of that proclamation.
Each week we write a prayer for Bangladesh, usually about a person whom we have cared for or gotten to know in some other way in the course of our ministry. We send these prayers by email to our supporting congregations and to individuals, too. If you would like to receive a copy of our prayer each week, send me a request.
Cindy and I thank you all for your continuing support.
Leslie Y. Morgan
The 2010 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 124