Ransom demands and prayers: The kidnapping of a mission group in Haiti
As a journalist who covers religion, I’ve been blessed to…
Around the World is our monthly rundown of news briefs, links and quotes from Churches of Christ all over the globe. Got an idea for this column? Email Erik Tryggestad at [email protected].
Featured image (above): Amid the lush landscape of Iceland, James Nored discusses “Faith and Fairy Tales” for the Story of Redemption video series.
Nored, a member of the Fairfax Church of Christ in Virginia, works with Next Generation for Christ, a mission and discipleship ministry that produces the videos. While in Iceland, Nored and his family met with church planters including Gunnar Gunnarsson, a native Icelander who was converted by listening to podcasts about Christianity.
Gunnarsson and his coworkers “have just recently had Farsi-speaking people come their way,” Nored said, “and we have our whole Story of Redemption series in Farsi … It is great how God brings people together!” Learn more at SORIceland.com and theicelandproject.org.
UGLJAN — “We spent seven days listening to the God-created music of crickets chirping and God-created Mediterranean smells of rosemary, lavender, pine trees and other plants you can only find on Croatian islands.”
That’s how minister Jura Lazar described a recent camp on the island of Ugljan, attended by about 100 members of Churches of Christ in Croatia. Tony Coffey, minister in Dublin, Ireland, was the guest speaker.
“God’s word, prayers and worship were present with us every day,” Lazar said.
PHILADELPHIA — The COVID-19 pandemic “has broken down religious barriers that have for decades divided churches into autonomous groups that previously had little contact with one another,” said Roger Dickson.
“Church leaders from all religious groups show up at our door.”
Dickson, who lives in the village of Philadelphia in South Africa’s Western Cape province, writes and distributes free gospel literature through Africa International, a ministry supported by Churches of Christ.
“Church leaders from all religious groups show up at our door,” Dickson said, “pleading for Bible material that they can distribute among their isolated members in order to bind them together in the midst of social lockdowns. … Fortunately, we have the right literary tools for the job.”
SHIPDHAM — About 60 people, representing Churches of Christ across the United Kingdom, gathered at historic Letton Hall in Norfolk for an autumn family retreat.
“For many this was the first time in 18 months that they had been able to enjoy being in the presence of so many outside their immediate family circles,” said Patrick Boyns, principal of the British Bible School. “We enjoyed great mealtimes together, listened to a few teaching sessions, joined together in singing songs of praise and encouragement, played together in the splendid gardens and generally loved being a part of another very special weekend.”
Keys to success in Africa
ZINVIE, Benin — This small West African country is shaped, roughly, like a key.
And the nation of 12 million souls “may well be a key to evangelizing the French-speaking countries of Africa,” wrote Laurel Sewell. “Only God can know.”
Since its humble beginnings in a single concrete building just north of Benin’s large port city, Cotonou, the Bible Training Center has trained 233 preachers under the direction of Ghanaian-born evangelist George Akpabli. Those graduates have planted more than 350 Churches of Christ across more than a dozen nations in French-speaking Africa with a combined membership of some 15,000 believers.
Sewell and her husband, Milton, are promoters of French African Christian Education (FACE), a nonprofit founded in 2007 to support the Bible Training Center and its graduate preachers. Milton Sewell, chancellor of Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn., serves on the nonprofit’s board of directors.
Laurel Sewell recently interviewed Bill Morgan and Ed Jones, who began working with Akpabli in 1994 after the two men were appointed elders of the Benton Church of Christ in Kentucky.
Morgan, a former brigadier general in the U.S. Air Force, noted what he sees as keys to the success of the work in Benin. Allow Africans to teach Africans, he said. Don’t impose American culture or expectations. And find good people to financially support the work. Richard England, a recently retired professor at Freed-Hardeman, serves as executive director of FACE.
“This has exceeded my expectation beyond any comprehension,” Morgan said of the work. Jones added, “Why did I doubt that God could do this?”
“The sadness doesn’t end, but after helping, the situation becomes a little better.” – André Álvaro, speaking about the refugee relief efforts of his church in Mozambique. Read the story.
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