A Sabbath day like no other!

Saturday, July 27, 2019
Luanda, Luanda Province, Angola
First, from Jorge de Campos :
On Sabbath July 27th 1,873 members and visitors attended the morning service in Luanda. The Church National Representative in Angola, pastor Paulino João Foi gave a sermonette based on Ephesians 2 on the theme that God is a family. After various lovely choir interpretations and local announcements, Vic Kubik gave an expository sermon on Ephesians 1 highlighting various points of God’s grace in His plan for mankind. 
Lunch was provided to all attending and the various congregations and regions had people nominated to organize the lunches in a decent and orderly manner. In the afternoon the church conducted an enthusiastic youth program for about an hour in which young people cited Biblical poetry and verses off by heart as well as various youth choirs performed. 
The day was completed by a Bible Study on Ephesians 5 that I conducted emphasizing how men are to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. At the closure, as we were leaving, the brethren literally exploded into a most joyous celebration demonstrating how God’s Spirit was poured amongst the members as they understood in greater depth God gracious plan for all mankind.     
The Angolan brethren continue to need our urgent prayers for their standing with the local government. The government has recently requested additional information from the Church to meet the government’s prerequisites. 
The main requirement that the Church does NOT meet is the countries’ new legal requirement of 60,000 adult members or at least 1,000 members in each of their 18 provinces. This is an impossible target to achieve. Therefore the Angolan leadership is asking for the international prayers of God’s brethren beseeching God for a miracle in this stressful situation. Should they not receive this permission the Angolan Churches of God will all be legally forced to close down, the facilities will be locked, and they will NOT be able to meet on the Sabbaths or for God’s annual festivals. Your prayers are sincerely appreciated from the bottom of their hearts. 
End Jorge
In the morning, we were collected just before 9 AM for the 10 AM Sabbath service. Our hotel is only a mile from where the church is located. We drove into a surprise welcome by people lined up to greet us. The people usually meet for an hour before church services for singing and praise. I had to stay close to Jorge for Portuguese to English translation. 
The people are very nice looking and very friendly. The women do not wear jewelry and they dress very modestly.  
Our hosts brought us forward to sit in a special section to the right of the speaking podium.  Music, rehearsals continued on for the hour before the start of services, which started right on time at 10:00 AM. Several pieces of warm-up music continued. Then came the official start with a prayer followed by the sermonette. There was more special music, mostly choirs of youths and adults. 
The service format was exactly like ours in the United Church of God. Since they have been involved with the Worldwide Church of God at the beginning they have continued as we do.  They know our songs and it was pleasant to hear the familiar melodies. The sermonette was delivered by their chairman Paolino Fio and he spoke about being citizens of God’s Kingdom.  
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,  21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.  (Eph 2:19-22) 
Then I delivered my sermon that was entirely in the first chapter of Ephesians. So both of us were on track in the first part of Ephesians! 
During services a power failure silenced the public address system and electric piano, but very quickly a generator was fired up that continued to the end of the service. There were 1,873 people in attendance for this service!
The press corps was there when we arrived in the morning. They had been invited to come and they did! They stayed through the whole services and interviewed us afterwards. It was a positive experience.  Both television and radio. Jorge and I were interviewed along with pastor Avelino Bumba. I emphasized that we have had a relationship with these people for several decades and that I had wanted to come and meet them in person. Among other questions they asked us were:
·       What are you were doing in Angola and what is the purpose of your visit?
·       How are you going to work with the church here in Angola?
·       What is the message that you are preaching? 
·       What is your Church’s mission? 
·       How did you find the faith of these people to be?
The press corps consisted of people doing audio, video and asking the questions for both the local radio station and for the TV. The TV interview will be seen throughout Angola.  
The afternoon meeting started with a youth and young people’s program of music, scripture quoting and poetry. Everyone was very engaged and it was enjoyable and inspiring for all of us. I got some video that I’ll be posting.
Jorge's Bible Study was about the role of love and service and how we should follow in that example. He quoted from Ephesians 5. All of us speakers were in Ephesians and that was not by our design!
Then there were more hymns. They sing our UCG hymns with gusto, even some Dwight Armstrong hymns that I feel they do better on than some of us! Corbin Rose developed an app for church hymns. He developed one special for Jorge in Portuguese.
It’s been a great day. A Sabbath like no other. I was so privileged to be part of this. I’ll be having a lot more to say before this trip is over!