Jerry and Meg Canfield returned to Laos from West-Ark in late December 1997. There they primarily worked on health projects. This work was done with registration and approval of the Lao government.

Saturday night, 31 January 1998, we learned that Jerry and Meg, Ken Fox, a Thai preacher, and around forty Laotian Christians were arrested Friday evening during a Bible study assembly in Laos.

The U.S. State Department, U.S. embassies in Laos and Thailand, Congressman Asa Hutchinson, and Senator Tim Hutchinson began actively seeking a resolution. Tuesday morning, Jerry, Meg, Ken, and the Thai preacher were released.

Please pray for our Laotian brothers and sisters who remain in jail.

Rarely do we experience such impressionable reminders of the contrast between life in the United States and life in much of the world. The separation of church and state is debated here with great emotion. However, the controversy does not question the right of the church to exist, function, or express itself. Aggressive initiatives question the right of the church to function in some areas of public life. Some wish to place significant restrictions on the rights and activities of all religions in this nation. Many of these advocates argue that religion significantly restricts their rights and activities.

The American debate is significant and could result in restrictions previously unknown in this nation. But no one seriously advocates the destruction of the church.

When members from this congregation are arrested for hosting a home Bible study with persons who want to assemble, it sobers us. It should. It should also shake individual, spiritual apathy. Blessings unused accomplish little more than blessings denied.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
(edited) Bulletin Article, 8 February 1998

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