The Chittagong Hill Tracts are an area inhabited by tribal people. The region is divided into three administrative units under the authority of tribal chiefs whose task it is to maintain their cultural heritage. Until the recent past the tribes enjoyed real self-government.Since Independence from Britain in 1947, the situation has changed. Due to the general increase of population, many additional people have moved to the Hill Tracts.
The Hill Tracts Presbyterian Church has roots particularly in the Bawm Tribe. In an extraordinary vision a famous Bawm priestess, Sialdarnu, was shown athreatening future: “We are afraid of the time when a peculiar white man, just as white as cotton, will come to our country from beyond the ocean, bearing great light; then we shall no longer exist; when this white man appears we shall disappear.” The Bawm believe that the light turned out to be the Light of Life.
In 1918 the Welsh missionary, Edwin Rowland, accompanied by native Gospel volunteers, came to the area; he had served for 20 years in the Mizo Hills. The Mission responsible for the work in the following years was the North East India General Mission with headquarters in Philadelphia, USA. The first conversions took place in 1926, and three years later the first church was built. In 1968 missionaries withdrew and the Evangelical Christian Church became self-supporting. Eventually several splits took place which resulted in the formation of five groups. The Hill Tracts Presbyterian Church was constituted in 1980. In recent years attempts have been made to restore Christian unity in the Hill Tracts. They resulted in the foundation of the “Hill Tracts Tribal Churches Fellowship” in 1996 (Evangelical Christian Church, Christian Fellowship of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Baptist Sangha, Tribal Baptist Church, and the Hill Tracts Presbyterian Church). The Hill Tracts Presb have no affiliation with any church abroad.