Obeying the Call

by Gordon McKillop

Missionary at Nyangombe Christian Training Centre, near Mwinilunga in Zambia.

The students requested help from some experienced Zambian evangelists who considered the request prayerfully. Decisions to go into Angola are not taken lightly, particularly with the anti-personnel mines, which are still being found in the area with devastating results to anyone who steps on one. The condition was that they should be mature, older men, since the people of the Lovwa area had seen life in its most violent forms during the civil war and they simply would not listen to people who did not have real-life experience.

The young Angolan men said that the area was still in ‘darkness’ and without the Light of the gospel through God’s Word and that unless they hear the Truth, these people would remain that way. They knew, as we all know, that it is only when the Kingdom of God is established in the hearts of men and women, by God’s Holy Spirit, that the darkness is pushed back. It was as though the Lord was impressing on hearts during prayer, ‘stay focused, invest your energies into the challenge of winning the lost, building up believers and allowing God by His Holy Spirit to work in people’s lives’. We were reminded that our task is therefore unchanged; we must keep our mission of preaching the gospel and making disciples prayerfully in focus but leave the overall battle strategy to the Lord who is building His church and in doing so is pushing back the darkness.

New Ground
In the West we have lost sight of the physical hardships that evangelists can face going into unevangelised areas. Under normal circumstances, people are generally very welcoming to strangers but, on occasion, they can be suspicious of outsiders. For example, if there has been a recent death or accident in the village, travelling evangelists can be mistakenly blamed for the misfortune or death and beaten up severely. We know of many instances where those seeking to win the lost paid a price! Evangelism in Africa is not for the fainthearted.

In times of uncertainty, many African evangelists take comfort from Paul’s testimony where it is clear that he endured many hardships and beatings in order to preach the gospel in places where it was opposed (2 Cor. 11:25). Others with a heart to take the gospel to unreached areas often have to leave families behind and without phone access there is usually no way for them to know how their families are.

A Story of Hope
A friend, Kalula, went to Angola to evangelise 20 years ago. He left his wife and children at home, mounted his bicycle and headed for the area where he was born and where there was still no gospel witness. Kalula was the only one left alive in his village when all the other villagers were massacred. An elderly lady came to the village and heard a baby crying among a pile of bodies. She took the baby and fled to the refugee camp at Maheba in Zambia. Kalula spent 18 years in the camp when, one day, he was grabbed by soldiers and press-ganged to join the military. He told the soldiers that he would not bear arms as soldiers had killed his entire family. He jumped off the truck into a river, survived and wandered from village to village looking for food. It was a Sunday and he sat on a log and listened to a message about God the Father and His provision of His Son. Following the meeting the preacher led him to the Lord and took him into his home to disciple him. Kalula grew in his relationship with the Lord and in time married and had a young family. Twice each year he cycled to Angola to preach the good news. While cycling along the path, a man stepped out in front of him.

They greeted one another and the man told him to return to Mwinilunga Hospital where his wife was dangerously ill. We need to remember that there were no phones with which to send messages and Kalula wondered why his wife was in Mwinilunga Hospital, 100 miles from their home village. He rode to Mwinilunga through the night arriving at 11am the next day, having cycled almost 26 hours. The nurses told him that his wife was in the operating theatre. They informed the surgeon, Dr Filip, who emerged and conveyed to Kalula that his wife had a large uterine fibroma, the procedure to remove it was very complicated and she was unlikely to survive. Kalula and the surgeon prayed and Kalula pleaded with the Lord to preserve the life of the lady who had given him the only family he had on this earth. Kalula wonders who the messenger was that conveyed to him the detail of his wife on a lonely path in Angola. Dr Filip remembers that when he returned to the operation, things had changed. He completed the operation and Kalula’s wife is still healthy today, more than 20 years later. This incident and other answers to prayer led Dr Filip to seek a personal relationship with the Lord.

Little did the evangelists know what they would encounter to get to Lovwa.

For the Sake of the Gospel
It is against this historical backdrop of factual, verified accounts of God intervening that eight men spoke and prayed together at a conference held in August at Nyangombe in 2023. They believed that they should respond to the request for help. They felt
it right to go to Angola and assist the few young men there in preaching the gospel in the hope that a church could be established in this remote region.

The journey was undertaken on motorbikes, which could be driven safely on the narrow footpaths. Little did the evangelists know what they would encounter to get to Lovwa. There being no motor roads and no bridges either, rivers had to be crossed by canoe.

Canoes with motor bikes perched on top are very unstable and Charles Kafweta and Ndali almost ended up in the river – crocodiles are never far from these crossings. Some of the team fell through spindly, makeshift, wooden bridges over streams and although they had some aches and pains later, all were grateful not to have suffered serious injury. They remained excited about the opportunities they might find for the gospel if they could just get to Lovwa, so they persevered and pushed on.

Finally arriving at their destination, they were met by two young Angolan men who had been struggling to plant a church in this area. No roads meant no schools, mobile phone coverage, clinics, fuel or provisions to eat en route. The team were amazed on arrival that a villager emptied his house, swept it out and gave it to them for the duration of their stay. Others provided sleeping mats and a few mattresses so that the guests would be comfortable.

The mature team, some aged over 70, witnessed for the Lord daily in the villages. Many, both young and old, made indications of their commitment to follow Christ and were amazed that men would travel so far with this gospel message of grace and peace. The team’s sacrifices on the journey did much to soften hearts. Evenings were spent around a large open fire where the message of salvation was preached and questions asked.

The two young local men were also encouraged in the Lord, who had revealed Himself to so many, and they now have the beginnings of a new assembly in Lovwa for which we thank the Lord. Please pray for this new work in Angola.

1. The Angolan Civil War began in 1975 and continued, with interludes, until 2002.

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