COLUMBIA — Scott Laws had a heart for Romania and its people. He spent his summers there as a teenager and became fluent in the language, so much so that the Romanian people thought he was a local.
His love for Romania began in the 1990s. His church, Evangelical Free Church of Columbia, was sending mission teams to Romania every summer to work with the Evangelical Free Church of Craiova. Scott went on several of those missions to the southern Romanian city. But this year, Scott won't be returning to Romania because he lost his battle with colon cancer in September at the age of 30.
Donations for the Craiova Romania Church can be sent to: Evangelical Free Church, 600 Silvey Rd., Columbia, MO 65203. Put Romania in the memo line of the check.
Or if you would like to be part of the mission team, you can reach Sherryl Laws at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-449-8391. For more information about the Craiova Church project or to read about the team’s journey, access their website at teamcraiova.blogspot.com.
His mom, Sherryl Laws, and 10 others will leave Friday for a 10-day trip to Craiova, a trip, in many ways, they're making to honor Scott. Sherryl's team will help complete a new facility for Evangelical Free Church of Craiova.
Seventeen years ago, the Craiova church wanted to build a facility of its own, so it began purchasing land in the area. It took 17 years to complete the purchase. Finally, building has begun.
About 15 years ago, both Sherryl and Scott dreamed of moving to Romania and working as short-term missionaries. Sherryl said that she now believes that God "tied her heart to Romania," not because he wanted her to be a missionary to Romania, but rather for Romania.
As part of her duties as a missionary, Sherryl said she feels called to raise money for the completion of the church in Craiova. A year ago, $30,000 in donations were given to Scott's memorial fund for the Craiova church.
"God has honored my son by allowing his memorial to be a part of building (God's) church. I just wanted to follow through with that in Scott's memory," Sherryl said.
Sherryl set a goal to raise $10,000 to purchase windows for the church for her latest trip. With two weeks to go, the group still needed $3,000. Sherryl says she isn't ashamed of asking people for the money, either.
"I can't be ashamed of asking for money; I don't sing, I don't preach, but God has given me the courage, or whatever you want to call it, to speak of the needs of Romania," she said.
So, anyone who knows her has been asked to donate.
"I always felt that when we went, we were the eyes of the church here. We needed to come home and tell of the needs there," Sherryl said. "I feel like I alone do not have the resources, so I have to speak up and say what they need."
She was part of a team that attended the first Craiova church service. The team used street evangelism to invite the Romanian people to attend. That day, 300 people made professions of the Christian faith. In her mind, it would be wrong to share the message of Christ and then leave the Romanian people without a church.
"I believe that when they have their own building, they can be a beacon of light in a very dark place," she said.
Although the exterior of the Craiova church is close to completion, there is still much to be done inside - plumbing, electrical wiring and windows need to be installed. The volunteers' goal is to complete the sanctuary before winter so the Romanian people can finally worship in the church. However, the church still needs $50,000 for its completion.
Sherryl said she believes that without the help of Americans, the Romanians, with their average $300 monthly salary, wouldn't have the funding to build the churches. "We have the wealth of the world. We have so much here that we could build this church and 50 others if we would just give."