A day for the ladies / Seminars

Sunday, July 28, 2019
Luanda, Luanda Province, Angola
On Sunday July 28th we conducted three sessions of training for the brethren in Angola. The early morning session from 9:30 am till 11am was an open session of questions and answers in which Vic Kubik started the ball rolling explaining how he came to church, the history of United Church of God and brief history of the church from the first century. Jorge also added how the Portuguese web site in the section ‘who we are’ (Quem somos) also has historical details of the church from the days of the apostles till the modern day history of the Church.
Other questions asked were related to UCG’s commitment to holding fast to the faith once delivered to the saints. We had in excess of 300 members represented in which there was an approximately equal number of men and ladies.  
From 11:00 AM till about 1:30 AM we had an interactive session for the ladies by Bev Kubik  and Kathy de Campos. About 200 ladies were present. The sessions allowed time for the ladies to share their challenges in Angola, particularly in society, with children in school as they hold on to the faith, as well as how they train their households and their children.  
We were very impressed with their commitment to God’s way and the training and support that the ladies have implemented in their 15 congregations around Luanda. The discussion also progressed about a number of Biblical examples of various ladies mentioned in the Bible and lessons we can gather from them. 
The session concluded with 10 virtues based on Proverbs 31 and other scriptures.  
After lunch Vic completed the training with a lecture on being a disciple and a servant. He then detailed six important characteristics of a servant. As we closed the day towards 5AM the brethren, men and women, rejoiced greatly, as if it was a mini-feast, thanking God by singing hymns and prayer.   
When we knew we were coming to Angola, we did not know what to expect.  The country has a sad and violent recent history. Angola had been a Portuguese colony for 500 years.  After a war of independence lasting 25 years it became independent in 1975.  But, immediately two factions instigated a civil war that continued for 27 years until 2002. 500,000 people, military and civilians died in this gruesome struggle. 
Outside nations such as Russia and Cuba supported one side, while the United States and South Africa the other. Terrible atrocities were committed that our members remember. It was a proxy war between the United States and the USSR/Russia. 
During Angola’s 27-year civil war, millions of families faced starvation or were forced to flee their homes. When the fighting ended in 2002, landmines and explosives littered fields, villages and towns, killing and injuring thousands.  77,000 had limbs amputated.  One of them is our deacon Felisberto Cassoma who is also a member of the national board of the Church.  In 1994 he was in the army and stepped on a landmine.  Then his unit was ambushed by Jonas Savimba’s UNITA forces.  He survived, but lost his leg.  He was 23 years old at the time.
The largest city in Angola is Luanda where we stayed.  It has 5.5 million people.  It swelled to that level and became as a place of refuge.  The second largest city Huambe that was the stronghold of the opposing UNITA faction is about 400 miles away.   A number of people, including August Cauende Samanjata came to visit this past weekend.  We even had pastor come from further south towards Namibia come. His name was Paolina Herculano Kafuka from the province of Bie, which is next to the province of Huambo and about 750 km from Luanda.  He was one of the people in 1993 who had tried to reach South Africa via Namibia, but ran out of money and got stuck in Windhoek, Namibia before trying to get to South Africa which he never did.  That story is told in http://v2.travelark.org/travel-blog-entry/victorkubik/26/1563965534.
The Worldwide Church of God has nearly 6000 members in Angola.  In Luanda there are 15 congregations alone. Each one of the congregations has its own building.  In Luanda three of the congregations also operate a primary school for the community.  They are in control of the academic calendar and observes the Holy Days as days the school is closed.
Today, the meeting started at 9:00 with a question and answer session that I conducted with Jorge.  First, I told them a little about my background and about my knowledge of them going back to 1995 when the Worldwide Church of God opened its hearts and minds to them.   I was working in Church Administration at the time and remember well the event in late 1994 and 1995.  The Angolan churches who had been Sabbath-keeping now started keeping the Feast of Tabernacle as they do to this day.  But, the same people who shared God’s truths to them now changed their minds as they made a special attempt to talk them out of keeping these days!  I have explained this earlier in this blog at http://v2.travelark.org/travel-blog-entry/victorkubik/26/1563965534.
One of the questions vocally and intently asked was: ”how do we know that you will not change your beliefs?”  I replied by saying that no one can change doctrine.  We have created 20 Fundamentals of Belief that can only be changed by the approval of 75% of the totality of the ministry’s approval.  The rules are spelled out in our Constitution.
There were other questions about the origins of UCG and how we came to be.  I spoke of my background in the Church.
At the break another radio station sent reporters. This one was a Christian radio station.   We were asked if we get involved in municipal elections.  Then they wanted us to give a message to Christian leaders and tell us what we considered to be the greatest challenge for the Church which I said was the training of future leaders.
Then the Women’s Seminar began at 11:00 a.m. and went on until 1:30 p.m.  Bev spoke about how Christ spoke of  “other sheep” in John 10:16.  Both Kathy de Campos and Bev did a great job.    It was quite interactive as women were not afraid to come up to the front and express themselves.  
They talked about how to become a righteous woman as the defined by the Bible.  They talked about some of the same issues that we have with our children.  One of them was how to keep the Holy Days in a society that does not honor them.
While there are 15 congregations in the Luanda area, every two months they combine for a big service and share challenges with one another.
They would like to have a short camp for children and have them be brought together to have fun and learn God’s way of life.
There were questions about how to set an example as a Christian woman in your community.
Then there was a session on “Getting to know you” and what we should be praying for specifically for the women here.
Then they talked about women in the Bible which evoked mother of Moses, Ruth, Mary the mother of Jesus, Anna mother of Samuel, Sarah the wife of Abraham, Lydia of Acts 16, Priscilla (Romans 16 and Acts 18).  And the Proverbs 31 woman.
Then there was a list of subjects covered.
·       Mothering
·       Stewardship
·       Industriousness
·       Praising God
·       Homemaking
·       Use of Time
·       Beauty
·       Time
Then there was a final song.  Always, there is music.  They are not quiet!
We found out that most women did not grow food.  Most get their food from the little street markets.  Bread loaves sold everywhere….like French bread. Greens are expensive  (Grits, nshima is called fungi.) 
They keep the Feast in different places around Angola to make it easier for some on a rotating basis. They rent a piece of land. They use air mattresses.
After the women’s presentation I gave a presentation about discipleship and service.
We were told about a serious food shortage south towards Nambia and LifeNets gave the pastor $400 for now for food relief.  
We had to wrap everything up by 5:00 pm.  Sunset is about 6:00 pm.  Luanda is 8 degrees latitude south of the equator and days and night are almost the same all year round.