The ongoing wars in Angola and the Congo have led more than 220 000 refugees to flee from their homes to find sanctuary in Zambia.
When the Marxist MPLA forces launched a scorched earth offensive against the people of south eastern Angola, hundreds of villages were destroyed, thousands killed and tens of thousands fled.
Angolan Refugees, many of them injured or crippled, receive World Missionary Press Scripture booklets.
It was in the middle of the rainy season when Pastor Marcos and his congregation were forced to flee from the invaders. They walked through the bush taking only what they could carry. They didn’t complain about being constantly rain soaked as they trudged through the bush. Had they been forced to flee in the dry season, many would have perished from thirst. As Pastor Marcos put it: "We suffered because of the heavy rains, but without the rain we could not have survived."
In the Lord’s mercy, with the exception of one adult male, the entire congregation escaped the devastation and survived to reconstitute their church in the refugee camp in Zambia. One Zambian government official who had worked with refugees from many nations, recognised the fruit of the Gospel amongst this tight knit community by praising their high standards of self-discipline
When we arrived at the refugee camp I was given the opportunity to address their community leaders. While 85% of Angolans claimed to be Christians, many had actually put their trust in man - not God. Some trusted in Augustino Neto or Eduardo dos Santos (the Marxist dictators), others trusted in Jonas Savimbi (the UNITA resistance leader). But now the long suffering Angolans were being challenged to trust in and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.
"Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord…blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord " Jeremiah 17:5,7
For Sunday services the congregation of 2000 meet in an open area. Fallen logs were their "pews." In spite of the fact that the destitute refugees were dependant on outside aid, during the offering nearly everyone would come and pour a cup or two of dried maize kernels into the collection bags.
The message delivered to these Angolan Christians was "Why Does God Allow Suffering and Hardship?" Sometimes God allows a people to suffer on account of their own wickedness (Lev 26:14, 17). But Joseph suffered because of his brothers’ jealousy. Through no fault of his own, he became a slave in Egypt, was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and imprisoned. But in all this God’s purposes were eventually accomplished. What Joseph’s brothers meant for evil, God used for good (Gen. 50:20). The Angolan Christians were encouraged that even in their own difficult circumstances our sovereign Lord is working His purposes out. Instead of merely waiting to return to Angola, Christians were challenged to be fully engaged in the work of the Great Commission there in the camp.
We also held a Reformation Film Festival with the open air screenings of John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, and God’s Outlaw (William Tyndale) films — all in Portuguese. These were a great success. The believers were much encouraged, as the main issues of the Protestant Reformation were clearly portrayed.
Frontline Fellowship missionaries minister to Angolan Refugees in ZambiaAt the women’s choir practice we saw that fewer than half had hymnals. The hymnals that were available were very threadbare and well-worn. The rest of the women had notebooks into which they had hand scribed the verses of their favourite hymns. We joined them for hymn number 227 in the Umbundu hymnal, "Ombonge yetu Yehova" otherwise known as "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." There is a great need to reprint the Portuguese-Umbundu Hymnal which has been out of print for nearly twenty years. Frontline Fellowship plans to complete a reprint project as soon as funds permit. There is also a great need for more Bibles among the refugees, particularly in Umbundu.
"For a thousand tongues to sing," Angolan Woman’s Choir with some of the few remaining Umbundu Hymn books.Another pressing concern articulated by Angolan church leaders is the desperate need for training, theological and otherwise. Because of the civil war, they haven't had access to formal theological training since 1976.
We are working on establishing a fund to provide theological education in Portuguese for the refugees.
Angola, by the Back Door (book)
Going Through (book)