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About the CBM
Compared with other CBM areas, West European countries are easy to reach, with none of the climatic extremes, physical discomforts, communication dificulties and culture shock that await visitors to Africa and the Caribbean. Yet, despite much preaching work, the number of brothers and sisters has remained small.
One reason for this is deeply-rooted, centuries-old religious tradition. Particularly in Catholic countries, few have the independence of mind to seek Bible truth for themselves. In Protestant countries, where there is more of a tradition of personal Bible reading, there has been a little success, particularly in the Netherlands and Germany.
The greatest adversary however is materialism, which means that people are preoccupied with what they think of as 'the good things of life' and do not feel the need for God.
Over the last few years, there has been some success in the relatively new areas of Eire and Spain.
In the Middle East, the Truth has reached a good number of the Indian population working in Oman and United Arab Emirates to the extent that we now have about 60 members in 3 ecclesias. We also have an ecclesia of 24 in Israel.
This is the newest area for CBM work. It started with preaching work in Esperanto in 1980s. The learning of the 'world language' Esperanto was encouraged by the communists and so this was a way of reaching people in communist countries. After the fall of communism at the end of the eighties, we were able to preach more freely in these countries, first by correspondence courses and then by preaching visits. In Bulgaria and Russia, however, under the influence of the Orthodox Church, laws have been passed which restrict our preaching (and that of other Western churches).
The problems of preaching in East Europe are:
The work is expanding rapidly and we need more workers, especially those with the appropriate language skills, and most of all, those who can stay in a country for an extended period as resident missionaries.
Africa contains a vast diversity of physical and cultural conditions and a wide range of religious beliefs. There are many problems - physical, economic and political. Yet the problems can be exaggerated and there is considerable potential for preaching.
The first person to be baptised in West Africa was Mr Godwin of Nigeria in 1957. In 1982, churches were established in Nigeria and Ghana, and there were also Christadelphians in Cameroon. By 1996 there were over 700 Christadelphians in 40 churches in 17 countries.
All this is the result of God's blessing on the work of many committed correspondence workers and on the work of long term missionaries who have spent time in West Africa, particularly in the 1970s. Sometimes the direction in which the gospel spreads is completely out of our control - war and persecution cause people to move from one country to another and they take the gospel with them.
Preaching activity has been going on for over 60 years in East Africa, and while much initial interest can be superficial, there is in some a thirst for Biblical truth and a faith untroubled by the problems of affluence. Considerable progress has been made, notably in Malawi, where there are 150 Christadelphian churches with a total membership of about 6,500. From there the message has spread to neighbouring Mozambique, where there are 64 churches and 1,500 members. All that is despite the fact that the members speak mainly Chichewa and all English missionary visitors need an interpreter.
Altogether there are in East Africa over 12,000 Christadelphians in 8 countries. Another 2,000 students are taking correspondence courses.
The brothers and sisters suffer however from ethnic violence and civil war, desperate poverty and isolation.
|"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation." (Mark 16:15)|