PARAMARIBO, Suriname (BNc) — When a Hindu man passed away in Paramaribo, Christian friends were asked to conduct religious services at the wake for two hours each evening for five days.

Jim Krumrei and Blair Roberts took turns leading singing and preaching the gospel. The son, daughter, and son-in-law of the deceased expressed appreciation for their assistance and for the sympathy shown by Christian friends. About 50 were present each evening, including Hindus, Christians and Muslims.

In Suriname, the smallest independent country in South America, there is a great diversity of cultures and religions. The religious mix includes Hindu 27%, Protestant 25%, Roman Catholic 22%, Islam 19% and indigenous 5%.

Jim Krumrei, missionary in Haarlem, Holland since 1963, and Blair Roberts, a Canadian from Regina, Saskatchewan (former missionary in Flanders, Belgium) were in Suriname during Oct. to help the Dutch-speaking congregation in Paramaribo put a new roof on their building.

Since the Dutch-speaking congregation had great difficulty finding a suitable place of assembly, brethren in Holland provided funds to purchase a building in Dec. 2007.

There are three churches of Christ in Paramaribo: one Dutch-speaking, one English-speaking, and one French-speaking. There is also a congregation at Nickerie.

Dutch, the official language of Suriname, is spoken as the mother tongue of about 60% of the population, and most others speak it as a second or third language. English is also widely spoken. About 90% of the half-million population live in the capital, Paramaribo, or along the coast. More than 80% of Suriname consists of unspoiled rain forest.

Churches of Christ were first established in Suriname through a mission effort of Don Starks and other Christians from the US around 1987. Preaching was done in English, using translators in some cases. World Bible School students were invited to attend the meetings.

Boyd and Nell Williams (former missionaries in Flanders, Belgium) also spent time in Suriname and did the necessary paperwork so the church could be officially recognized in Dec. 1989.

Yearly campaigns were continued through 1994.

Bill Tyler, who helped with various campaigns, collected funds from the US so the English-language congregation could purchase a building which they started using in April of 2001.

Jim Krumrei first went from Holland to Suriname in 2003 and has made five trips since.