After a long two-night flight to Luanda, the Kubik's, Kathy and I had the pleasure and honor of re-joining our brethren in Luanda on Friday July 26, 2019. As we arrived to the church hall a number of ladies sang a lovely welcoming song to us and two lovely young girls dressed in all white dresses gave our wives two lovely bouquets of flowers.
We then proceeded to the hall where the choir sang another lovely song, a prayer was given to God in gratitude for our visit and Pastor Paulino João Foi gave a welcoming visit speech. In it he mentioned how the church in Angola had passed 20 years in a spiritual wilderness thinking that they were the only physical group remaining faithful to God. They never let go of the hope knowing that God would answer their prayers, sooner or later. God’s answer to that prayer came when they had the first contact with United Church of God in late 2015.
They are grateful for the ‘building of bridges’ that has occurred since then, as the UCG Council Chairman’s letter stated in early 2016.
The President of UCG, Victor Kubik, thanked the church in Angola for their faithful dedication to God all these years and said he looks forward to a continued relationship in the years ahead. We followed with an opportunity to personally greet every single one of the more than 100 members that were there. We took a number of photographs of the various groups of people and had an opportunity to tour the school of ‘Living Waters’ that the brethren run in the local area.
Later in the afternoon we had a meeting with the leadership to discuss the forthcoming activities and to address a number of questions some of the men had about Victor Kubik, particularly about how he came to the Truth and his first few years in the ministry. We look forward to tomorrow’s Sabbath service, a youth Bible activity and a Bible Study.
July 26, 2019
Today, the real action for this trip begins! We flew all night flight from Frankfurt to Luanda. 8.5 hours on a full Lufthansa flight.
We left late… about 10 pm and arrived at 5:30 am… and gaining an hour. Since it was all through the night and it was late, most spent their time sleeping as we were wanting to also. Many people on the flight and some with small children. I couldn’t help but wonder if they were in missionary work. This is the way the flights are to Malawi and Zambia. Sometimes the plane has all kinds of people from Peace Corps to charities venturing into real-life in these countries.
We arrived on time and were braced for a grueling process of waiting in line with surly people grudgingly allowing us into their country. Jorge had warned us about that.
The experience, however, proved to be otherwise. The airport was bustling. An Air France flight arrived at the same time as ours and I thought it would be a real jam at immigration with two jumbos being processed at the same time.
But, Jorge has a Portuguese passport which gives him priority status to go through immigration. He was hoping that Kathy, Bev and I could come in on his coattails. His hope was realized. We quickly passed Yellow Fever inspection as we presented our yellow fever documents. Then to immigration officers. A super jolly man quickly attached himself to Bev and me and took us to expedited visa processing.
Then we collected our luggage. And, now before meeting with our Angolan hosts, we all changed into a bit more formal wear. The ladies changes into skirts… the women here do not wear slacks. Jorge and I changed into suit and tie. We were like Clark Kent changing into Superman in phone booth… except it was in a WC stall. The women exclaimed that they had discovered new men. I told them that the longer we travel with the de Campos’s, the better we look.
As we exited from baggage claim and immigration, we were met by the leaders of our church in Angola. They all quickly introduced themselves.
We were told it would be about two hours to the church hall where some from the congregation would be waiting to greet us. We made unusually great time and arrived in about an hour. This is the first African country that Bev and I have visited where people drive on the right side, as we do in the USA. All the others have been British influenced and drive on the left side.
We drove through urban Luanda out to the church hall. We asked a lot of questions about the country and city. Angola is a huge country… about twice the size of Texas. It has suffered through two wars. First, the war for independence that went on for 25 years.
Today, the Communist party is the ruling party. When we applied for visas to Angola online, the opening page had the hammer and sickle symbol that the Soviet Union used for years.
But, Angola is prospering. The country is known for diamonds and oil. I believe it’s one of the few places in the world that supplies chrome. I asked about Russians, Cubans and Chinese that at one time were dominant. Our hosts told us that there are few Russians and Cubans. The Cubans tend to be doctors. The Chinese, too, have receded. This was all very interesting.
When we arrived at the church hall we were met by a singing women’s choir and many members lined up to greet us. We walked into the church hall, which is a very nice. People filed in. This was a Friday morning, but they came. Tomorrow, we were told, there will be a very large contingent of people… maybe upwards to a thousand people.
A youth choir dressed in uniform was singing when we entered in and sat in special chairs set aside for guests. We were really treated very nicely.
Pastor Paolina made a welcome addresss. Then I was asked to speak. I told them about how I had been aware of them from 1994-1995 back in the days of the Worldwide Church of God and how happy our leaders at that time were to find thousands of people faithful to the Word of God. At one point, our relationship had faltered, but now has been reignited. These people found the United Church of God online and connected with Jorge de Campos. And, a new relationship emerged which has now become a partnership, in which they used our extensive literature in Portuguese for their evangelistic purposes. We have a genuine respect for one another.
Then we walked across the courtyard and visited their five-classroom school called Agua Viva, which means “Living Waters.
Then we checked in at the IBIS hotel just a short distance from the church hall. We rested a bit. We were exhausted from the flights of the past few days… literally walking off the plane after more than two days on the road and then thrust into visiting with the people here.
Then at 3 PM, Jorge and I met with their leaders in a hotel conference room. It was good to be with the leaders up close. We discussed the agenda for the remainder of our visit. Then Pastor Paolino spoke about the challenges they have faced physically and spiritually with the church being challenged to even exist by the government. It appears that they have weathered some of the recent storms to exist. They have had some of their bank accounts frozen, but they are hopeful that that will be sorted out soon. They thanked us for coming.
Pastor of the local Vidral "home office" church Avelino Bumba thanked us for the sacrifice of coming to visit.
By the way, Avelino Bumba has a weekly 15 minute radio program heard in the Luanda area.
I also spoke and told of our history with these people. I was very involved in hearing about them at the beginning and am so happy to see our relationship flourish now.
They asked me questions about my coming to the truth of God and my history.
I met the person who found the United Church of God on the Internet that led to them contacting us and our recent relationship starting in 2015 continuing what started in 1995. His name is Mesac Catombela. He is a school teacher who studied in Cuba. We found that Pastor Paolino Foi, who is the chairman of the entire church here, is one of the two original founders in 1983. His wife's name is Sophie.
I told them about Horasi, the person of Portuguese origin in Zambia who helped start what now had become the Manyinga and Mufumbwe congregations. http://lifenets.org/mufumbwe/mufumbwestory.html
In Luanda alone there are 15 congregations and each one has a building. They credit their growth to the localized meeting and their radio program.
I was told by this group that many people from Angola fled during the wars....even as late as 2002 There were 66,000 refugees in Zambia. Horasi may have been among these people who were living in Zambia.
1. Hilário Piriquito - music director
2. Felisberto Cassoma - (equivalent to Gerald Seelig -- manages cash)
3. Rufino Chiopio - equivalent to Mark Welch
4. Elizel Gamboa
In Angola the ruling party is Communist, but there are other parties. There is no real "consensus" I am told.