East Bangladesh Mission

By Sunil Bikash Tripura

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Sunil Bikash Tripura, M.Min. (DLC-Bangladesh, AIIAS), has worked for the Seventh-day Adventist Church since 2005. He has served in many capacities, including evangelist, English Medium Teacher, school vice-principal, principal, and district pastor. At present he is the executive secretary of the East Bangladesh Mission (EBM) under the Bangladesh Adventist Union Mission (BAUM) in the Southern Asia Pacific Division (SSD). He has been blessed by God with a wife, two sons, and one daughter. 

First Published: November 3, 2020

Article Title: East Bangladesh Mission

Article Author: Sunil Bikash Tripura

The East Bangladesh Mission (EBM) is the most recently organized of the four missions in the Bangladesh Adventist Union Mission (BAUM) in the Southern Asia-Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists. The head office of the East Bangladesh Mission is situated in Pahartoli, Chittagong, Bangladesh.

Territory: Bandarban, Chittagong, Comilla, Cox's Bazar, Dhaka, Gazipur, Khagrachhari, and Rangamati.

Statistics (June 30, 2021): Churches, 26; membership, 5,616; population, 69,008,246.1

Origins of Adventist Work East Bangladesh

In 1985, Dr. Johnson, a medical missionary of Seventh-day Adventist Church in Bangladesh, opened a dental clinic in Chittagong. Income from the clinic helped support Adventist mission work in Bangladesh. The first dentists were Nolini Bayen and William Bairagee. Later, Senford Sarkar, Timothy Adhikary, Gilbert Halder, and Sonaton Murmu worked in the clinic.2 Known as Adventist Dental Clinic (ADC), it was considered a center influence for the gospel work in Chittagong and surrounding areas.

In order to further God’s work in the greater Chittagong Division, the East Bangladesh Mission office was transferred from Mymensingh to Adventist Dental Clinic (ADC), House No. 18, Road No. 4, Khulshi Hill, Chittagong in 1989.3 By offering dental services to the community, the mission attempted to reach unreached groups and to communicate with people of different districts in the Chittagong Division. However, the mission work was not successful in either Chittagong’s urban or rural areas. Spreading the Adventist message in the hilly areas of Rangamati, Bandarban, and Khagrachari—known as the Chittagong Hill Tracts, often shortened to Hill Tracts or CHT, in eastern Bangladesh—proved more successful.

In the Rangamati District, the central of the three tracts, Pastor Simon Halder was sent to to begin evangelism on January 1, 1989.4 His work quickly led to some local people accepting the Adventist message, and requests for evangelism programs were sent from different places in the Hill Tracts. The mission realized that there should be a regional head office for the Hill Tracts region. Consequently, in 1989 the name of the East Bangladesh Mission was changed to the East Bangladesh Region (EBR), and in 1990 the office was moved to the city of Rangamati, 72.8 kilometers from the city of Chittagong and 304.5 kilometers from Dhaka. Its address was P.O. Tabolchoribazar, Asam Bosti, Rangamati, Bangladesh.5

When Halder began working in Rangamati, he rented a house from Assambosti. He started his missionary work by visiting different places, searching for possible ways to share the Adventist message with the Buddhist people. Some local people were baptized. When the news of these conversions spread among the local people, social and political pressure was placed on Halder, necessitating that the EBR office be moved in 1991. It was relocated to 149, Shah Ali Bagh, Mirpur, Dhaka. The officers were R. G. Manners, president; Selmon H. Dio, secretary; and Ramesh K. Biswas, treasurer.6

Halder remained in Rangamati as field leader and district pastor under the East Bangladesh Region. He eventually moved to Bottola, Lichubagan (Chondroghona), Rangunia, Chittagong.7 It was 56 kilometers from Rangamati. During his stay in Lichubagan, a piece of land was purchased at Bottola for the office of the East Bangladesh Region. While he was at Chondroghona, he met Arun Librashaw, the first convert to Adventism from the Khyang tribe. Halder and Librshaw conducted evangelism in Arachori (a Hill District village). Most of the villagers became Adventist and the Arachori Seventh-day Adventist church, the first Adventist Church in the Hill Tracts, was established.

At this time, a local political party, the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) representing the people of the Hill Tracts, was fighting for autonomy from the Bangladesh Government. There was fighting between Shanti Bahini (the armed wing of the JSS) and the Bangladesh Army in many places in the Hill Tracts. The Shanti Bahini and their supporters claimed that the Bangladesh Army used Bengali people to collect information about the Shanti Bahini. Most of the Bengali people in the Hill Tracts were settlers relocated by the Bangladesh Government from different parts of Bangladesh; thus, the indigenous Hill Tracts people were prejudice against the Bengalis. Because of this, it was difficult for ordinary Bengali people to mingle with the indigenous people of the area. This contributed to Halder’s inability to advance missionary work in the indigenous villages. Consequently, he was replaced by H. K. Dango, an indigenous pastor from the Garo tribe of Mymensingh in 1991.

From 1991 to 1995, Dango and Librashaw worked hard to establish churches in the Rajostholi area, a sub-district of the Rangamati District, and in Rowangchari, a sub-district of the Bandarban District. The Adventist churches were mainly established among the Khyang tribe villages, such as Boropara, Kukkachori, Khamtangpara, Keoplangpara, Dhonuchori, Silchori, Roshepara, and others. Despite restrictions and threats from the Santi Bahini, they also entered many new locations. During that time, Librasha and his wife were hired as the first church workers from the hill tribes.8 Thus, the Adventist message was spread in the other two hill districts, Bandarban and Khagrachari, as well as other parts of the Chittagong District.

Khagrachari

In 1995 a student named Soityojit Tripura from Khagrachari, Hill Tract, enrolled at the Bangladesh Adventist Seminary and College (BASC). At that time, Edward P. Rema was the acting president of BASC. At Soityojit Tripura’s request, Rema visited Khagrachari, where saw some possibility of spreading the Adventist message. In 1996, Rema returned to Khagrachari with Willie G. Falia, BAUM education and youth director, where they visited several villages, such as Dighinala, Khagrapur, Modhupur, and Beltoli, and shared the Adventist message with villagers. They also visited a Baptist pastor named Hori Kishore Tripura in Khagrapur. After few days, a Baptist youth from Dighinal, a sub-district of Khagrachari, named Hilton Tripura visited this Baptist minister, requesting information about the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Hori Kishore Tripura gave him the address of the Adventist pastors, E. P. Rema and W. G. Falia. Hilton Tripura soon accepted the Adventist message and started sharing Adventist message with his friends and relatives. They were also ready for accepting the Adventist message.

President Rema also spoke with Prosad Ranjan Das, coordinator of the East Bangladesh Region at Bottola, Chondroghona, Rangunia, Chittagong. In June 1996, Rema, Falia, and Das traveled to Khagrachari. There they conducted evangelistic meetings at Pomangpara and Buddhopara. Hilton Tripura and Sumongol Tripura were baptized along with thirty other people. Following his baptism, Hilton Tripura was hired as an evangelist-teacher in Buddhopara and Pomangpara.

In 1998, the East Bangladesh Region sent D. Hagidok to Jamtoli, Dighinala, as the evangelist and supervisor for the Khagrachari District. Hagidok stayed in a small cottage in the yard of Tridip Rai Pomang’s house. He worked hard, visiting and preaching in many places throughout the Khagrachari District. On March 12, 1998, Hagidok, Hilton Tripura, P. R. Das, Sumongol Tripura, and E. P. Rema conducted an evangelistic meeting at Beltoli, Khagrachari. Twelve people accepted Jesus Christ as their savior. They were Binod Jouti Tripura, Jorika Tripura, Monisha Tripura, Komol jouti Tripura, Birobala Tripura, Mononita Tripura, Horipurno Tripura, Meghorani Tripura, Rekha Tripura, Joutimoy Tripura, Ganomoy Tripura, and Anota Tripura. Through the hard work of mission workers, including Hilton Tripura, D. Hagidok, Binodjouti Tripura, Sumongol Tripura, and Chondon Tripura, the gospel message was spread throughout the Khagrachari District within short time. Many churches, including those in Buddhopara, Pomangpara, Jamtoli, Chotomerung, Kamukkyachara, Koroitoli, Beltoli, Chelachara, Gasban, Karigorpara, Taindong, and Karigorpara, were established.

From the new churches of the Khagrachari District, many students attended BASC. The first of these students graduated in June 2005. A very dedicated and committed man, Sunil Bikash Tripura from the Khagrachari District, completed a BA degree in theology and minor in education and became the first Adventist graduate from three Hill Tracts. He served in many capacities, including gospel outreach volunteer, English teacher, district pastor, high school vice principal, and principal. In 2016 he was elected executive secretary of the East Bangladesh Mission by the executive committee of the Bangladesh Adventist Union Mission.

Bandorban

In January 1996, responding to an invitation from Miton Tripura, Arun Libraswa, W. G. Falia, E. P. Rema, P. R. Das, Bonowaree, and E. P. Chambugong conducted evangelistic meetings in several Baptist and Buddhist villages including Nayapara, Daichari, Bagheriiree, Nazirampara, Tongojiree, and others in the Bandorban District. As a result of their evangelism, the first four people—Miton Tripura, Joni Tripura, Waver Tripura, and Joseph Tripura, all formerly Baptists—accepted the truth of Adventist Church and were baptized at Nayapara. Later, Hebol Tripura and other thirty-one others accepted the message and the first Adventist church in the Bandarban District was established at Nayapara. Nayapara became the center of the Bandarban District. After its organization in 1997, the Nayapara Adventist church, was led by Shitol Ruram, who was also appointed district pastor.

In 1998, Miton Tripura, Jony Tripura, Joseph Tripura, Hebol Tripura, Elisha Tripura, Sajaram Tripura, Sudorshon Chiran, and Charls Manda were hired as Global Mission Pioneer volunteers, and through their hard work many churches were established, bringing the total to six organized churches and twenty-six companies in the Bandarban District. Birendro Tripura was the first native of Bandarban District to graduate from BASC and return to the district as a church worker. He later left the mission job and joined an outside NGO.

Organizational History

The East Bangladesh Section was organized in 1984,9 encompassing the territory of Chittagong, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Comilla, Dhaka, Gazipur, Jamalpur, Mymensingh, Netrakona, and Sylhet.10 In 1987, the East Section office was moved to the Bangladesh Union Section, with offices at 149, Shah Ali Bagh, Mirpur, Dhaka. At the time, the officers of the Bangladesh Union Section were David Paul Rema, president; R. G. Manners, secretary; and John V. Golding, treasurer.11 In 1988, under the union leadership of Robert G. Manners, president; Selmon H. Dio, secretary; and Ramesh K. Biswas, treasurer, the East Section was reorganized as the East Bangladesh Mission and its office was moved to Jail Road, Mymensingh 2200, Bangladesh.12

In 1989, the East Bangladesh Mission office was moved to ADC, House No. 18, Road No. 4, Khulshi Hill, Chittagong, Bangladesh, and its name changed to the East Bangladesh Region (EBR). The office was relocated to Tabolchoribazar, Asam Bosti, Rangamati, Bangladesh, in 1990,13 and moved yet again in 1991, settling at 149, Shah Ali Bagh, Mirpur, Dhaka. The officers were R. G. Manners, president; Selmon H. Dio, secretary; and Ramesh K. Biswas, treasurer.14 In 1992, a regional center was built at Bottola. Motilal Baidya was the first EBR coordinator, serving from January 1, 1993, to December 31, 1994.15 Prosad Ranjan Das was EBR coordinator from January 1, 1996, to Dec. 31, 1998.16 During his administration, a day school, named the Adventist International Mission School (AIMS), was opened in 1997 in the city of Chittagong by the education department of the Bangladesh Adventist Union Mission.

Edward Promod Chambugong was EBR coordinator from January 1, 1999, to December 31, 2000.17 In 1999, EBR office was moved to 79, Panchlaish R/A, Chittagong 4000, Bangladesh. The officers were Edward P. Chambugong, coordinator; Daniel Shaha, secretary; and Stephen Murmu, treasurer.18 During E. P. Chambugong’s tenure, the present EBM Office land was purchased. In January 2002, the office was relocated to Soraipara, Pahartoli, Chittagong, and housed on the first six floors of a rented building named Khudeja Manjil.19 In 2003, the East Bangladesh Region (EBR) became the East Bangladesh Field (EBF).20 The EBF office was finally moved to its own permanent address on November 27, 2009. In 2010, EBF received the status of mission and became the East Bangladesh Mission (EBM). 21 The East Bangladesh Mission had to face many challenges and obstacles to reach its present status.

As of 2019, Matthew Adhikary was president of the EBM, assisted by Sunil Bikash Tripura, executive secretary, and Alvin Nikhil Raksham, treasurer. Departmental directors and office staff included Rebecca B Adhikary (family, women’s, and children’s ministries among others), Benedict Baroi (stewardship), Linton Baidya (accountant), and Nobel Marandi (cashier and office secretary). District pastors included Dennis T. Das, Dhaka and Gazipur District; Jacob Kormoker, Chittagong District; Chingsaprue Khyang, Bandorban District;

Thatman Tripura, Rangamati District; and Lalkhum Bawm, Khagrachori District.

East Bangladesh Mission Statistics22

 

Year Churches Companies Membership Baptisms Ordained Ministers
1984          
1985          
1986          
1987 13   2338     44   1
1988   2     506     11   0
1989   2     537     31   1
1990   2     550     13   1
1991   2     581     31   1
1992   2     625     46   2
1993   2     734   112   3
1994   3     853   121   3
1995   3     871     18   2
1996   3   1048   178   3
1997   3 11 1215   180   1
1998   3 25 1401   401   7
1999   6 45 2801 1400 10
2000 19 36 3262   461 10
2001 19 43 3821   564   8
2002 19 46 4306   662   7
2003 19 46 4262   664   5
2004 21 44 4912   700   6
2005 21 51 5214   320   6
2006 21 52 5480   267   4
2007 21 56 5775   296   6
2008 25 66 6102   328   5
2009 25 66 6612   512   2
2010 25 66 6750   139   3
2011 25 68 7055   305   3
2012 25 68 7266   256   3
2013 25 68 3540   220   4
2014 25 68 3926   390   5
2015 25 69 4236   311   5
2016 25 69 4501   266   5
2017 26 70 4705   215   5
2018 26 72 5034   238   5

List of Executive Officers

East Bangladesh Region Coordinators: Motilal Baidy (1993-1995), Prosad Ranjan Das (1996-1998), Edward Promod Chambugong (1999-2000), Bibek Halder (2001-2003).

East Bangladesh Field Presidents: Sopin Bonowaree (2004-2010), East Bangladesh Mission President: Daniel Baidya (2011-2015), Matthew Adhikary (2016-).23

Sources

“History of East Bangladesh Mission (EBM).” History Book of SDA Church. East Bangladesh Mission archives, unpublished manuscript, November 2016.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, various years. https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.

 

Notes

  1. “East Bangladesh Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (2022), https://www.adventistyearbook.org/entity?EntityID=13376.

  2. Interview with Dr. Sonaton Murmu, Present dentist of ADC, Chittagong, on last April 10, 2021 by cell phone.

  3. “Bangladesh Union Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1989), 104-105.

  4. “Simon Halder,” Personal Service Record, Bangladesh Adventist Union Mission Archives.

  5. “East Bangladesh Region,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1990), 106.

  6. “East Bangladesh Region,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1991), 106

  7. Sopin Bonowaree, former EBM president, and Edward Promod Rema, former BASC acting president, interview by author, Mirpur-1, Dhaka, March 26, 2019.

  8. “History of East Bangladesh Mission (EBM),” History Book of SDA Church, (East Bangladesh Mission archives, unpublished manuscript, November 2016), 81-85.

  9. “Southern Asia-Pacific Division,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2018), 331.

  10. “East Bangladesh Section,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1986), 104.

  11. “East Bangladesh Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1987), 108-109.

  12. “East Bangladesh Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1988), 109.

  13. “East Bangladesh Region,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1990), 106.

  14. “East Bangladesh Region,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1991), 106.

  15. Bangladesh Adventist Union Mission Executive Committee, Action No 92-317, 1992, 149, Shah Ali Bag, Mirpur-1, Dhaka.

  16. BAUM Action No 95-175, 1995, 149, Shah Ali Bag, Mirpur-1, Dhaka.

  17. BAUM Action 98-126, 1998, 149, Shah Ali Bag, Mirpur-1, Dhaka.

  18. “East Bangladesh Region,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (2000), 320.

  19. Bibek Halder, former president, 2001-2003, telephone interview by author, May 20, 2019.

  20. “Bangladesh Union Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (2003), 344.

  21. “East Bangladesh Field,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (2010), 375; Sopin Bonowaree, former president, interview by author, Mirpur, Dhaka, May 20, 2019.

  22. “East Bangladesh Field: Yearly Statistics (1987-2017),” GC Archives, accessed January 27, 2022, http://adventiststatistics.org/stats_y_stats.asp?FieldID=C10114&view=y_stats&StartYear=1984&EndYear=2017&submit=Build+Table.

  23. The name board of the EBM president’s office.

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Tripura, Sunil Bikash. "East Bangladesh Mission." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. November 03, 2020. Accessed May 25, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=8APU.

Tripura, Sunil Bikash. "East Bangladesh Mission." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. November 03, 2020. Date of access May 25, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=8APU.

Tripura, Sunil Bikash (2020, November 03). East Bangladesh Mission. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 25, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=8APU.