From the Superintendent's DESK
John Musgrave and I arrived in Luanda on Wednesday evening, November 30, for a three-day stay in Angola. We were accompanied by Oniyas Gumbo, the Southern Africa District Superintendent, Confidence Nemaungani, the South Africa District Superintendent, and Newton Jaravani, the Zimbabwe Board Secretary/Treasurer. This was my first time to visit Angola, and in fact the first visit to our work there by a Superintendent General. This is partly due to the civil war that occupied that country for twenty-seven years. The main purpose for our visit was to dedicate two churches and help facilitate registering the Angola work with the government.
We were greeted at the airport by Antonio Castilho, the Angola District Superintendent, his wife Ana Maria, and several leaders. The next morning, we flew to Kuito, the main city in the Bié Province, to dedicate the provincial headquarters church. The Apostolic Faith members in this province number about 77,000 including men, women, and children.
Upon arrival, we were welcomed inside the airport by the Provincial Overseer, Oscar Cassoma, and a large group of saints from Kuito. Then outside, Sunday school children presented each of us with a dozen red roses, a scarf bearing our logo, and lapel pins of the USA and Angola flags. In addition, a band played and a choir sang. These accompanied us as we drove to the church where another warm welcome awaited us. As we neared the church, we saw that a few thousand people had gathered and were lining the road on either side, singing and waving. We left the vehicles to walk the rest of the way, and it was thrilling to be among such a joyful crowd.
At the church, we held a ribbon cutting ceremony. Then, before entering for the service, we went next door to see the recently completed headquarters office with restrooms shared by the church. This building was desperately needed to accommodate the administrative functions necessary for the tremendous work in this province.
The service began with our national anthem. The sanctuary was filled to capacity with many standing outside as well. Following a choir prelude, congregational singing, and the opening prayer, Brother Antonio introduced our visiting team as well as government officials in attendance. The Vice Governor of the Brié Province, Adeida Camateli, gave comments in honor of the occasion.
Both the Scripture reading and sermon were interpreted in Portuguese and Umbundu, which is the primary native language. The message was taken from 2 Chronicles 7:15-16 and focused on “A Dedicated Building and Life.” The service concluded with a congregational song in Umbundu, “A Spiritu Ove Usongui,” followed by the closing prayer and altar service.
Upon leaving Kuito, we traveled to Huambo for an evening service on the campground where our work in Angola first began and is headquartered. Along the way, we stopped at three branch churches and were welcomed by the saints with music, some singing and others playing instruments.
At the campground, we were first greeted by several of the church sisters who ran alongside our vehicles waving and singing. Then a large group of Sunday school children came into view, singing and clapping.
The service was held in the tabernacle as the church did not have the capacity for the two thousand or so in attendance. It began with a choir song, congregational singing of “Marching to Zion,” and the opening prayer. The sermon text was from Luke 19:8-10, and the subject was “Jesus Has Come to Seek and Save.” Afterward, there was a great response at the altars.
Following the service, a news agency requested an interview, wanting to know our purpose and the focus of our organization. I emphasized that we strive to lift up Jesus, the Light of the World.
On Thursday morning, we returned to the Huambo campground to tour the site of the first church in Angola. It was eventually replaced by another, which the congregation outgrew and now uses for a children’s chapel. From the chapel, the ruins of the original church can be observed.
After our tour, we went inside the chapel where a few hundred Sunday school students were waiting to welcome us. They sang several songs with great enthusiasm. Then a young lady gave a nice greeting that included the history of the location and the children’s church work. She also expressed the desire of the Angola students to receive a visit from some of our Sunday school students. Her speech was inspiring and touched our hearts.
Our team was introduced and we thanked the children for being such good examples. Throughout the short service, their heartfelt amens were very impressive. We also thanked the teachers and their leader, Sister Teresinha. Brother Oniyas closed in prayer and then the children sang again as we exited the building. Just outside, another young lady read an official thank you and presented us with a wood carved map of Angola with the provinces noted.
Following our visit to the chapel, we went to the main church sanctuary to meet with the congregation one last time. We expressed our deep appreciation for Brother Antonio’s dedication and that of the Angola brethren. Then the congregation sang “God Be with You ‘til We Meet Again” before going to prayer for our safe journey. It was very moving.
Next, we held a meeting with the Angola leadership. It began with an introduction of the Board of Trustees and their current church roles.
The main portion of the meeting was an exhortation from Titus 1:5, “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.” It was brought out that Apostolic Faith churches worldwide follow the same Biblical order. This order includes choosing leaders from among those with high character whose lives reflect sound doctrine and good works. Another necessary quality is subordination to those on whom the mantel of leadership has fallen. The audience was encouraged to walk in unity with one another and God’s appointed leaders in support of His order. The meeting closed with prayer.
Our final event of the Angola portion of our trip took place on Friday, December 2. It was the dedication of our Cazenga church, pastored by Alexandre Tchimbiambiulu. This church is the headquarters for seventeen others in the Luanda Province. The property is in a beautiful location with a view of the Atlantic Ocean during the approach.
We arrived to another enthusiastic welcome with congregants lining the street by the main gate to the church. Sunday school children were also gathered and sang several songs including “Happy Welcome.” Then they gave each of us a scarf imprinted with the words “Missao Fe Apostolica.” We were also presented with roses, and then a young man read an official greeting on behalf of the youth.
At the church door, we held a ribbon cutting ceremony, which was presented in English and translated into Portuguese. The ceremony concluded with a turn of the key in the lock to open the door and allow the congregation to enter. Inside, we first went upstairs and received a tour of the offices. Then we went to the main sanctuary for the dedication service.
Following the congregational singing and opening prayer, our team and the local visitors and officials were introduced by Emilia Piedosa Constantino, the Provincial Overseer. The service continued with a choir selection in English, French, and Portuguese followed by the Scripture reading. The sermon was taken from 2 Chronicles 7:1 and focused on the statement, “What you should find in a dedicated church.” The prayer of dedication followed and then the people responded to the altar call with zeal. Before leaving, we had time to cut the dedication cake and take photos.
Our trip to Angola was special for all involved. While the Angola brethren felt the historic nature of our visit, we appreciated their enthusiasm for the Gospel and infectious joy. It was easy to understand why the work in Angola continues to grow rapidly and now includes 350 churches.
Brother John and I are now in Zimbabwe, joining our wives for the camp meeting, which began on Sunday, December 4.