South Asian, Bengali-speaking in New Zealand

South Asian, Bengali-speaking
Photo Source:  COMIBAM / Sepal 
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People Name: South Asian, Bengali-speaking
Country: New Zealand
10/40 Window: No
Population: 3,500
World Population: 1,900,600
Primary Language: Bengali
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 1.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.13 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Muslim - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Bengali people are the third largest ethnic group in the world behind the Han Chinese and Arabs. The homeland of the Bengalis is northeast India and Bangladesh. The Bangla language is the seventh most spoken language in the world. During the era of the British Empire, thousands of Bengali people left India and migrated to areas all over the world. Some have found their home in New Zealand. Many others came there in recent decades for opportunities. New Zealand became a colony in the British Empire in 1841. In the year 1947 New Zealand became an independent country retaining the British monarch as head of state. The indigenous Maoris are the biggest minority followed by Asians and Pacific Islanders.

What Are Their Lives Like?

New Zealand has a highly developed economy. Sources of income include agriculture, logging, tourism, manufacturing, and gold mining. There is an old joke about there being more sheep in New Zealand than people. Wool and mutton continue to contribute to the economy today. Most Bengali people fit into the middle class as shop keepers, owners of restaurants and small businesses. Many also work in retail, trade and finance. Some professionals in medicine, science, engineering and information technology are some of the highest paid people in New Zealand. The father is the head of the Bengali home. The mother takes care of the children and domestic responsibilities. More and more Bengali women work full time. Parents strongly encourage their children to marry within their people group and faith. They also want their children to obtain college and professional degrees. Some Bengalis speak their own language at home and English on the job and with their neighbors. Some Bengali families now use English at home.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The majority of the Bengali people living in New Zealand practice Islam. Of that group, most are Sunni. A small group of Bengalis in New Zealand is Hindu. Muslims attempt to obey the teachings of the Koran and the prophet Mohammad. Sunnis believe that by following the Five Pillars of Islam that they will attain heaven when they die. However, Allah, the supreme God of the universe, determines who enters paradise. Sunnis pray five times a day facing Mecca. They fast the month of Ramadan. They attend mosque services on Friday. If a Muslim has the means, he or she will make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in his or her lifetime. Muslims are also prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, using deceit, slandering, and making idols. The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah. A tiny fraction of Bengalis in New Zealand are evangelical Christians.

What Are Their Needs?

The Bengali need to understand the Christianity is not just the religion for Westerners. Jesus their Lord and Savior too. They need to see that material success will not bring them happiness and peace of mind. Only through Jesus Christ can one have his sins forgiven and attain eternal life.

Prayer Points

Pray for an opening of spiritual understanding among all Bengalis. Ask the Lord to lead Christians and churches in New Zealand to reach out and build friendships with the Bengalis. Pray that the small number of Bengali believers will be a light for the other Bengali people. Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Bengalis Muslims and Hindus towards Christ so that they will be receptive to the gospel. Pray that the Lord raises up a Disciple Making Movement among the Bengalis of New Zealand in this decade.

Text Source:   Joshua Project