Angola: My First Missions Experience
Leaving for my very first missions trip I kept wondering,“What can I do?” But God reminded me that it is not what I can do, but what He can do through me. This would be my very first time going into the mission field – I am both terrified and excited. I have no idea what is lying ahead.
I get into a small minivan. Costa, our driver, greets us with a smile. We travel on overcrowded roads, without a single working traffic light in sight and everything moves at a slow pace. How Costa manages to get us through the maze-like roads is beyond my logical understanding. Quite a daunting experience!
We turn off in an alley – squeezing through the cars,stalls, people and wandering dogs. We reach the church, after what felt like a lifetime of travelling – an oasis and a shining light in the community. We are greeted by smiling eyes, serving hearts and labouring hands.
As I walked into the church in Luanda, not knowing what to expect, I heard close to 200 pastors singing in perfect harmony – glorifying and worshiping God’s name. Even though I do not understand a word of Portuguese, the presence of the Holy Spirit was tangible and I realised that God has great things in store for each and every one of these pastors.
I joined in the worship and thanked God for sending me to Angola to meet my wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ.
Healing After the Wounds
Given South Africa’s history with Angola the pastors were reluctant at first to accept our help when Harvesters first started reaching out in Angola – since many of them fought in the war themselves or lost family and friends in the war. Since then God has opened the way in Angola and restored South Africa’s relationship with this beautiful country completely –we can now plant churches and win lost souls for Christ.
When you walk into a church in Angola you will see people wearing their “Sunday best”. This is not because they own so many fancy worldly things – they want to give Jesus the best that they have and honour Him in everything that they do. You will be surprised to hear about the hardships that these pastors face because they always greet with a smile and never complain.The only time they share their hardships is when you take the time to ask them,“Is there something in your life that I can pray for?”
At first the pastors will just smile at you, but one after the other they all share the same hardships – poverty, a lack of Bibles, new government laws regulating churches, cultural intolerance, persecution, no access to decent transport and stubborn unbelievers.
Pastor Frederico’s Passion is Contagious
One such pastor that crossed my path is pastor Frederico.He has an open face, always smiling and he leads the 200 pastors in song every morning. The tones of perfect harmony will give you goose bumps!
As I spoke to pastor Frederico he explained to me that he lives south of Luanda in a province called Benguela. It is an 8-hour drive from Luanda – per car. He had to take two buses just to get to Luanda and this equates to a whole day of travelling. “To travel by plane is unaffordable,” he explained still smiling.
Pastor Frederico was one of the first pastors to join the Harvesters Ministries program two years ago. Since then he has gone out and planted 27 churches. He is training student pastors for every church that he has planted and truly understands the discipleship program that Harvesters launched in this country. His passion for winning the lost for Christ is absolutely amazing!
The most remarkable – despite all these challenges the pastors face, is the fact that more than 600 churches have been planted in Angola. And this happened in only two years!
After all the pastors completed their training session and handed back all their administration – we had a surprise for each and every one of them. Our team came into the room with boxes and boxes filled with Portuguese and Kimbundu Bibles. The pastors started rejoicing, tears of joy were running freely down their cheeks. The Word of God does not simply go into a community, it changes the entire community.
What makes Harvesters so unique?
This is what sets Harvesters Ministries apart! We train pastors in evangelism and discipleship, we provide training materials as well as Bibles. It is not simply a hit and run evangelism trip – we return to the same Hub-church every six months to meet with the pastors and further their training and offer them support.
As I got back into the small minivan I realised what God had done through me. He gave hope to those who may have become hopeless, He gave comfort to those facing hardships and He gave His Living Word to those with a burning desire to serve Him and follow Him. What an honour to be an instrument of God.