Around the World, April 2016
VIENTIANE — Church members in this Southeast Asian nation were jailed and fined recently for “performing religious activity without permission,” said Christians in neighboring Thailand who support the Laotian believers. The Laotians are seeking permission to meet as a church from their provincial authorities.
Though Laos’ constitution grants its citizens “the right and freedom to believe or not to believe in religions,” churches must register with a recognized umbrella group for their faith, according to the U.S. State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report. Local authorities in some provinces are “suspicious of non-Buddhist or non-animist religious groups,” the report states.
Despite the persecution, “they have great spirit,” a Thai minister said of the Laotian church. “They are seeking ways to be Christians and to reach out. Pray for these heroes.”
SOPOT — As members of the Church of Christ in this Central European nation mourn the loss of Mike Dawidow, they continue the work and legacy of the longtime minister and missionary.
The church hosted 41 Bible studies and enrolled four new students during its spring English Bible study sessions. Peggy and Gerald Griffith of West Memphis, Ark., assisted in the sessions.
Dawidow’s brother, Marek, outreach minister for the Bartlett Woods Church of Christ in Arlington, Tenn., spent two weeks working with the congregation.
“Marek’s presence reminded us all of those who have left us too soon,” said Mike Dawidow’s widow, Molly, “but also reminded us that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus and that we have hope of a grand reunion in heaven.”
FREETOWN — Minister Samuel Bangura has planted five Churches of Christ in this West African nation, said members of the Southwest Church of Christ in Amarillo, Texas, who support his work.
In addition to preaching on weekly gospel radio broadcasts, Bangura helps people in his native country who have difficulty walking on their own. The minister and fellow Christians recently distributed wheelchairs, crutches and clothes shipped in a container by the Southwest church.
“Whole villages are turning to the Lord and asking for churches to be planted in their area,” said Glenn Branch, Southwest’s mission committee chair.
GENEVA — “Lord, what do I still lack?”
The question, asked of Jesus by a rich young ruler in Matthew 19, was the theme of the annual ladies’ retreat for French-speaking churches. Seventy women attended. Speakers included Stephanie Smith of Lausanne, Switzerland, Marina de Planta of Geneva and Patricia Hézard of Marseilles, France.
“In contrast to the young man in the Matthew story who, after hearing the words of Jesus, went sadly on his way because he was rich, the ladies left the retreat full of joy and conscious that we are only pilgrims on this earth,” said Colette Daugherty of Paris.
Christian women retreat in Switzerland (PHOTO PROVIDED)