MINISTRY PLANS, OPPORTUNITIES, AND REPORT
Report on Ministry in Angola and Portugal
Where I was in Luanda, Angola, I had no access to the telephone or the Internet so I was unable to get this newsletter to you. I arrived at Lakenheath Air Force Base in England on Sunday to spend three days with my Grandson, Matthew, Jennie, and Matthew Caden (Great Grandson). I had left Angola at 11pm last night. I got a much needed nap this afternoon.
The Angolan experience was challenging, fruitful, humbling, and exhausting. I left Atlanta on Monday morning, May 31, 2004 on South African Airline. the almost 16 hour flight to Johannesburg is noted to be the longest direct flight in the world! My plane was late! I had to run through the airport after customs encounter to my connecting three hour flight on to Angola. I made it, buy my bags did not. The airport where I arrived had nothing but a large room for customs and baggage claim. the door to the outside opened directly to the parking area, no phones, shops, etc.
My experience in the airport in Luanda was an indication of where Angola is politically, socially, and spiritually and where they have come from recently. I was thoroughly checked at immigration. when my bags did not arrive, I made my way to the dingy lost and found room. I went to the window where a woman who spoke only Portuguese sat. I waited at the window. Two guys came in and barged through a door to the desk where she was sitting. She waited on them. As I stood at the window, two other people tried to push me out of the way and get her to wait on them first. She was very rude! I gave her my baggage info. She said I would have to come back to the airport and check on my bags. She did not know when they would come.
I understood all of this better when I found that these people had been in war from 1961 until April, 2002. The war for independence was 1961 to 1975; then they began a civil war that lasted until 2002. Under Communist rule during these terrible years there was much persecution. Human life had no value! All of this left Angola in abject poverty.
My bags finally arrived three days later, but it was no problem. Nobody (including me) was bothered that I wore the same thing every day and had not shave since I left home. God did a marvelous work!
One hundred pastors from the various provinces of Angola participated all day each day in the Total Church Life Seminar. Many traveled far, slept on the concrete or dirt floors of the Bible Institute Buildings, ate only raw manioc, but participated in every minute of the sessions. But, would you believe, many of these wore a suit and tie every day. You could not tell by their attitudes and actions that they were tired, hungry, and sleep deprived. The building was hot, but they were attentive. They were greatly moved and appreciated TCL Strategy saying that it would make a great difference in their ministries and churches.
During the Seminar I asked pastors to share about what they had experienced in suffering for Jesus. Most Baptists had been heavily persecuted and many suffered martyrdom. Nine of the pastors and evangelist friends had been shut up in a house. The house was set afire and they were burned alive. Many of those present had been arrested and put in prison.
Mateus Chaves had a bookstore. He was convicted of selling something poisonous (Bibles). The Communists denied him a card that would permit him to buy food at the Communist stores. For him and his family to survive, he had to find food through the black market or wherever he could. He survived, but many starved to death. Mateus is now one of the Baptist leaders.
Mario Vantade is my friend whom I met in Brazil at my TCL Seminar for pastors in Sao Paulo. He was so certain that TCL would help Angola that he invited me to come. He is President of the Angolan Baptist Convention. Mario was a teacher and bivocational pastor. The Communists charged him with "A Contradiction." they said that he could not teach and be a Christian. A captain put a gun to his head and told him that if he did not renounce Christ, they would kill him. Mario refused to deny Christ. He was thrown to the floor. Seventy-five soldiers stomped his chest trying to kill him. They left him, but he did not die. Today, he is a powerful Christian leader.
As we came to the end of the TCL Seminar, all of the pastors made a moving commitment of "absolute surrender" to Jesus and to equip and lead their people to be "An Army for God to take their Communities for Christ." About thirty women and children who had been sitting outside for two hours in the hot sun marched in singing and dancing in the name of the Lord. they were garbed in their African attire and sang beautifully. It was a high hour.
Boa Esperanza Batista Igreja (Good Hope Baptist Church) hosted the TCL Seminar for the Angola Baptist Convention. The Bible Institute and our IMB Mission Compound are within a couple of blocks of the church. A praca (street market) is in front of the church building. The entire area is filled with filth and the dirt street is fine dust that blows and covers everything. the poor people sit in the hot sun to sell their simple wares including meat covered by flies, fruits, vegetables, beer bottles filled with kerosene, used clothing, etc. The middle of the street had a ditch which is now filled with garbage, trash and filth. In some places you have to walk around trash that is knee deep.
I had the joy of witnessing on the streets. One young man was selling music CDs. I stopped at his table and began to share Christ using a tract. He prayed and received Christ. Another young man was listening. He came around and told my partner, Odilon, "I want that too." He also received Christ. By that time a crowd had gathered. I lifted my voice and shared with them the message of Jesus using the "Lifeline Presentation" of the Gospel. Seven people received Christ.
Another time Lya, our Missionary Hostess, and I were witnessing. The same thing happened. Several young people prayed and received Christ.
I taught the pastors how to present the gospel using the Lifeline Illustration. All of them said that they would train their people in their churches to do it and lead people to Christ.
Our Missionaries are outstanding people of capability and commitment. Odilon and I were hosted in the Missionary Guest House by Brazilian/American IMB Missionaries Gil and Lya Santhon. they are tremendous witnesses. Lya served us excellent meals. We were in comfort and a very pleasant atmosphere in their home. Lya said, "I love the Africans, but my home will not be dirty and unpleasant." The tragedy is that in their poverty, the Africans do not have the resources to do much differently. Their houses are often merely shelters made of whatever they can find.
We were blessed by Curby and Eve Boone, IMB Missionaries from Oklahoma and Texas. Curby is the Administrative Leader. Eve prepared TexMex Fajitas for us for my last meal there.
Scott and Leslie McHaney and their children also live in the Missionary Compound. Scott is a tremendous leader who could serve anywhere successfully. He is team Leader and is pouring his life into that needy place to make a difference.
Pray for the work of our Lord in Angola and for our Missionaries.
In Portugal., Odilon, my friend and interpreter from Brazil, and I arrived at the airport on separate flights, but near the same time. We were met by Portuguese Baptist leaders, Pastor Antonio and Pastor Vitor. They gave us a great tour of the area around the city of Lisbon then on to Leidia where our seminar was held
What a difference from Angola. Portugal is affluent and stable, but in great spiritual need. Evangelical Christians and churches are few. Only 3,000 Baptists are in the entire country. The pastors and leaders in the seminar were outstanding.
They were Biblically strong and committed. They responded enthusiastically to Total Church Life Strategy.
A lovely family, Antonio, Edite, and their 10 year old son, Fabio, hosted me in their elegant, spacious, and beautiful home. It was spotlessly clean. What a contrast from Angola. I enjoyed my visit with them. Only the young woman, Edite, spoke a bit of English. She was a Believer and a member of the Leidia Baptist Church. Antonio was Catholic. During our late evening visit, we discussed what I do in Evangelism and Missions. I asked if I could show them. Of course, they agreed and I fully presented the Gospel using my People Sharing Jesus "Lifeline Illustration" and explained Believer's baptism.
Edite confirmed that she had received Christ about ten years ago. I asked Antonio if he would receive Christ and confess Him as Savior and Lord. He responded with joy. It was truly an intervention of God to work in spite of my limited Portuguese. But, God is not limited. He can use whatever we yield to Him.
My Flight Home
...was very pleasant. Would you believe? I was on the back row, aisle seat on the plane. The attendant asked the young woman sitting next to the window to move up nearer the front and allow an older couple who wanted to sit together to have her seat and the middle one between us. She refused indicating that she wanted to keep her seat. I interrupted and said that I was traveling alone and would be glad to change.
The attendant gave me an aisle sent in BUSINESS CLASS! And the person next to me was a committed Believer from Capetown, Africa named Grace. We shared about Jesus much of the way home. What a tremendous adventure! THE GREATEST ADVENTURE IN LIFE IS TO SIMPLY PLACE YOUR HAND IN HIS AND WALK WITH HIM!
THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS AND ENCOURAGEMENT.