News Release

First Mormon Missionary from Bangladesh Arrives in the Philippines

Elder Isaac Hawlader is the first missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Bangladesh. Born June 2, 1993, he comes from the capitol city of Dhaka and is 19 years old. He is assigned to the Philippine Cauayan Mission and arrived in this country without “purse or script.” He was a member of a small congregation, but he had never seen a missionary before coming to the Manila Missionary Training Center (MTC).

From July 2011 to June 2012, Mormon missionaries have arrived in the Philippines from 11 countries for 19 days of training at the MTC before returning to their home countries to serve their people for 18-24 months: India, Pakistan, Mongolia, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia...and now from Bangladesh. Elder Hawlader is unique in that he will not be returning until after he serves for two years in the Cauayan area. He is learning Tagalog so that he will be able to donate his time and energy helping the Filipino people.

Isaac Hawlader joined the Church four years ago at the age of 15 through the influence of an email from a relative who was a member. He wanted Isaac to read the Book of Mormon.

Elder Hawlader has a sister who is 16 years old.  She also wants to go on a mission when she is old enough. His parents are not members but they are very supportive of his being on a mission for the Savior. Both of them are also Christians.

When asked, “Why did you decide to serve a mission?” Isaac responded, “Because Heavenly Father has a special plan for my life. I want to share my personal witness.”

Bangladesh has not yet recognized the Church, but members are allowed to meet. Isaac has been meeting in a congregation of about 43 members including Americans working at the U.S. Embassy. The former management officer of the Embassy, Adam Lamoraux, was the Church leader in Dhaka at the time Elder Hawlader joined the Church. He baptized him. 

On his fourth day in the MTC, Elder Hawlader gave this interview and said that, “The MTC is really good for me. It is a blessing ‘in my name.’ He had already learned five sentences in Tagalog and his pronunciation was excellent. He spoke those sentences with joy and enthusiasm.

Elder Hawlader learned English in college before coming on his mission. At fifteen he was given the opportunity to participate in a work-study arrangement for his schooling. He had spent eleven years previously in an orphanage. His sister was also placed in the same orphanage but she was there for an entire year before they learned of each other.

Isaac’s parents had to place them in care because his father had been injured in an accident and his mother had mental problems before and after his birth which made it impossible for her to care for her children.  All the years that he spent away from them, he longed to know about them and to see them. A friend kept encouraging Isaac to read in the Bible, but to him, Heavenly Father did not exist. “There was no God in the whole world.”  Finally, one night, he decided to read a single verse and when he opened the Bible it fell open to Matthew 6:6: “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father, which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”

Isaac received an answer that night in a dream that God lives and knew him personally. Later,when he heard from his Mormon relative he responded  that, “God spoke to me in the Bible. If He says the same thing in the Book of Mormon I will know that God also speaks in that book and I will join the Church.” He opened the Book of Mormon to 3 Nephi 13:6 and found the same scripture as in Matthew about praying in your closet and the Lord being there.  Elder Isaac Nawlader became a baptized member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

One of the blessings he received was that he found his parents and although he realized he needed to be in school instead of home, he rejoices in his association with them. College was “so tough” and he had to study very hard but then he made the decision to go on his mission, thus, continuing on with more education.

Adam Lamoraux told him that he just needed to decide one way or another to go and the rest would be taken care of.  That counsel came true. With many personal sacrifices and great faith, Elder Hawlader arrived at customs to leave Bangladesh for his mission.

One of the other Philippine missionaries going to the Cauayan mission reported that Elder Hawlader is learning Tagalog more quickly than he can believe. There is no doubt that this young man has been chosen and called up by the Lord from his people in Bangladesh to represent Him in the Philippines. He joins with the other dedicated young missionaries whose greatest desire is to serve the Lord and share their witness of Him…that He lives and knows and loves each one of His children.


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