February 21-23, 2019 marked the 100th anniversary of Bangladesh Baptist Church Fellowship with the celebration of attracting more than 2500 people from Churches plus mission and ministry partners. The program included national and BBCF flag hoisting, prayer and testimonies, preaching, cultural presentations, documentary on significant moments, interviews, exhibition, fellowship, recognition of mission and ministry partners and so on. An abundance of food was served throughout the days. The Centenary Committee worked hard to gather photos and memorabilia to create a display for each decade and a time line showing significant developments and major contributions. They also produced a booklet to continue different stories of reaching different ethnic groups. That showed the diversity of today’s congregation with reflections written by 20 people. BBCF also published a 600 page history book that recorded the pre-history and happenings of the 100 year history. It was a wonderful time of giving thanks and glory to God.
One hundred years ago in 1919, 11 Churches planted by Australian and New Zealand Baptist Missionaries, came together to form BBCF as an indigenous Church convention, grounded its very purpose in the fulfilment of the Great Commission. Immensely encouraged and influenced by the mission and ministry partners, sacrificial lifestyle, teaching and compassion of the missionaries. With the deeper meaning of Fellowship as “Spiritual Unity in Action”, the BBCF emphasized on Church Health and Multiplication. The result is evident, now BBCF is a fellowship of 525 Churches, 800+ fulltime workers engaged in integral mission and ministry. One major factor that contributed to the success of our growth is the long-standing commitment of the mission partners like NZBMS who trained, equipped and released the indigenous local leaders wherever missionaries served. Philosophy of the indigenous church remains adequate for our contemporary missional context, this method remains highly effective as we seek to fulfil the unfinished task of reaching the lost. Bengali, the largest unreached people group in the world, live here in Bangladesh. So, the harvest is plentiful.
The 100th anniversary of our Fellowship provides a marvellous opportunity for us to ‘Reflect God’s Glory’ in our personal and Church life, and renew our collective calling for evangelism and integral mission.
As the BBCF celebrates 100 years of ministry, we enter a new era of missions service. This period will look and feel much different than the world of 1919. Dramatic changes have occurred over this past century, and great challenges have arisen while engaging the unfinished task of evangelization. Nonetheless, we can learn valuable lessons by drawing on the reservoir of missiological knowledge accumulated during our history.
The BBCF continues to value the approach of planting indigenous churches, and our future success will be predicated in part by our continued commitment to planting new indigenous churches, training local leaders, and valuing historical partnerships.
-Leor Sarkar, General Secretary, Bangladesh Baptist Church Fellowship