Introduction / History
The Chakma are not the same as the smaller Chak tribe, who live south of them. The Chakma inhabited the Chittagong Hill Tracts since long before the region became part of the Mughal empire in 1666. Buddhism flourished in Bangladesh from the 5th to 12th centuries. Since the 13th century, Buddhism has been confined to the Chittagong area. Chakma people inhabit Bangladesh and adjoining areas of northeast India. In India the Chakma are a scheduled (official) tribe that lives in the northeastern states near Bangladesh.
What are their lives like?
In Bangladesh they have long found themselves at odds with the predominantly Muslim Bengalis. The construction of the Kaptai Dam in the 1960s caused 18,000 Chakma people to lose their homes, and that may be the origin of the present problems. Since the mid-1970s the Chakma have been involved in a secretive guerilla war against Bangladeshi soldiers. The fighting stems from the influx of large numbers of Bengali settlers, who have moved into the Chittagong area and taken over Chakma land by force. The Bengali government does little to stop the illegal settlers, and the Chakma have fought back out of frustration as they see their lives being rapidly destroyed. Thousands of Chakma have been killed, hundreds of women and girls raped, and Buddhist temples smashed and looted. Tens of thousands of Chakma refugees have fled across the border into India. The Chakma people live in a part of India where there are believers nearby, and not just any believers, but people who follow Christ with all their hearts.
What are their beliefs?
The Chakma are officially Buddhists, but at the family level they worship Hindu deities like Lakshmi and Ganga. Buddhist monks from other Buddhist communities, act as religious teachers and performs Buddhist rites.
According to the India Missions Association, 7,275 Chakma in India are Christians. Overall, the troubled Chakma people remain an unreached and unevangelized people group.
What are their needs?
The Chakma people in India need a safe place to make a living and raise families. They need protection from those who want to do them harm. Experiencing turmoil and an uncertain future, they need the inner peace and hope that only faith in Christ can bring.
Pray for the Lord to provide justice, mercy and salvation to the Chakma people in India.
Pray that the trauma they face will make them look to the sovereign Lord for protection.
Pray for the Lord to thrust out workers to the Chakma people in Bangladesh and India.
Text source: Joshua Project