Posts Tagged ‘Luena’

An Arduous Journey Is Worth the Effort

In 2006 and 2008, the Angola Team (in its configuration at those times) visited a new church of Christians in Luena, Angola, most of whom recently returned from refugee camps in eastern Zambia. This congregation had a variety of difficulties in trying to gather each Sunday for worship, including the government’s requirement that they affiliate with a registered church denomination. (The registration of new church denominations has been closed since the late 1990s.) A third visit to these Christians had been high on our priority list since we arrived in Angola in July, and we finally found an opportunity in February. A number of the leaders of the group from 2006 and 2008 now worship with a new ICA church plant in Luena (the Angolan church that has invited our team to work alongside them). So with the help of the local ICA church leaders, we organized a week of teaching for the church there. Danny, Nathan, Jordan and I (Robert) set out from Huambo in the Reeses’ and Nathan’s vehicles.

We had heard the roads were bad, and the route was confusing, so we decided to travel in convoy with an experienced taxi driver (also traveling in a Land Cruiser). Our good friend Charles and several of his family traveled with us on their way to the funeral of a family member. We were also joined by our Angolan brother Bamba, who traveled by bus from Luanda in order to join us on the journey. On the evening before we traveled, we drove to Kuito (2 hours east of Huambo) and spent the night in a guestroom at the home of our friend, Marianne, a German Baptist missionary. The following morning, we rose early, had a light breakfast, and arrived at the taxi stop at 7 AM.

We left Kuito at 10 AM (some of the travelers in the taxi arrived late) and arrived in Luena at 11 AM the following day, after a hard journey. About 17 hours were spent traversing the 400 km, including many stops to pull the lead vehicle (our guide) out of the deep mud that covered a long stretch of road. From 10 PM until 4 AM we slept on the side of the road, deciding to rest a few hours. We finally arrived on Tuesday, 12 hours later than we had planned, exhausted and amazed.

The best $10 ever spent - a recover strap

The best $10 ever spent - a recover strap

Our host, Pastor Kazenga, gave us the remainder of the day to rest. We were accommodated well, in a rented house with several bedrooms, a large living room, and a small kitchen. We slept and reorganized our teaching plan to fit in the remaining four days of the schedule. Jordan – the strongest of the lot of us – managed the strength to fix supper, as she did each day while the trio of men rested (the three of us all felt a bit ill) or prepared for the next day’s teaching. Angolan friends joined us for many of the meals.

On Wednesday, we visited the provincial head of the Ministry of Culture and the provincial headquarters of Immigration – two obligatory visits on any trip outside of Huambo or Luanda. That afternoon, Danny introduced our topic to the gathered church leaders – about 25 men and women and a dozen young adults (ages 16-25) who sing with the church choir. We would spend the week teaching about the church and challenging the congregation to grow more and more like the New Testament church of Jesus’ first followers. We delivered each lesson in Portuguese and someone translated into Chokwe or Luvale. Our teaching program:

Danny teaches the gathered church leaders

Danny teaches the gathered church leaders

Wed. PM: To whom belongs the church? (Danny)
Thur. AM: The temple of God & the New Testament on church buildings. (Robert)
Thur. PM: What is our identity? (Nathan)
Fri. AM: Who is consecrated? All Christians are set apart to serve. (Danny)
Fri. PM: Every member of the body has a gift to contribute. (Robert)
Sat. AM: Who leads the local church? Study on elders. (Danny)
Sat. PM: Conclusion – Search the Scriptures. (Nathan) & Questions and Answers (Danny and Robert)

On Sunday morning, Charles taught Bible class and Danny preached on “the mission of God.” Sunday afternoon, Jordan met with the women of the church while Danny, Nathan and I met with a smaller group of men to discuss the relationship between our friends from 2006/2008 and the new ICA congregation.

Jordan and two ICA "Mamas"

On Monday, we returned to Huambo with (thankfully!) better weather and dryer roads. The journey lasted just over 10 hours.

The journey was well worth the struggle. We were encouraged by our time with the congregation. Many leaders asked thoughtful questions and wrestled with the Scriptures we shared. They showed genuine interest and desire to understand God’s Word concerning the church. This young congregation has already (before our visit) assisted in the planting of three other churches in the area. We will return to visit these other church plants in June with several leaders from Luanda. The Luena congregation is a vibrant group of believers and we look forward to future visits and opportunities to study God’s Word alongside them.

Click here to see more pictures of the trip.