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Bible Class

Brian and Debbie Howden, Angola

Stephen Grant

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Dear Friends,

We return to Angola tonight and would really appreciate prayer for the work that is before us both spiritually and practically. We arrive at Camundambala on the 10th September D.V. The consequences of Ruth Hadley’s home call will take some time to settle as adjustments are made, but it is the Lord’s work and He will continue to build His Church as He promised.

Shortly after our arrival at Camundambala we are anticipating some workers from Brass Tacks (Paul Dodds, Phil Kennedy) to come and move the building of the new school classrooms forward, also two containers from Medical Missionary News with more supplies for the building project are expected shortly. Later in October we are looking forward to welcoming back Jonathan & Ruth Singleton and Alex Trivonov, then Huw Collings and Danny Mathie are hoping to come and help with the building work too. We are really grateful for those who are prepared to give of their time and come and help the work go forward, and their families who make that sacrifice too. So there is a lot of practical things to oversee as the building work recommences and we would appreciate prayer for visa applications and the safety of all engaged in this work.

As we commence a new phase in the work we believe it is a good opportunity for the School to begin to become more independent from missionary input on a daily basis.  Eventually the scaffolding of missionary support has to be removed and the School stand on its own and this is a good opportunity to start this transition. This was something that Ruth discussed with us shortly before she passed away. She had done a tremendous work in the School and she was uniquely equipped to do this with her immense experience in Angola, her knowledge of the culture, her background in teaching, her love of the people, her great ability in both Portuguese and Chokwe and so the list goes on.  Replacing her or taking over what she did is not possible, none of us on the field are qualified or competent to do this work. She was a unique and amazing person but the School has had all that input over the years and the Lord in His wisdom and sovereignty has taken her out of Angola into His eternal presence and rest. She has left a good head and deputy and we are confident that they will keep up the good work with their team of teachers. So in the light of this we will continue to support the school logistically and try and meet the needs that they cannot provide with educational supplies and the maintenance of the current vehicle and the repair of one which needs to be put back on the road for the use of the School. We would appreciate prayer that the day to day overseeing of the practical needs of the school doesn’t hinder the School Head, Deputy and staff from developing and taking on responsibilities which they are capable of. I will continue to teach years 5 & 6 using the PBS Bible lesson material and maintain a presence in the School at other times as well but seek to equip and encourage the nationals to move the School onwards.

We are really looking forward to recommencing Bible classes with the Camundambala young people. We have three groups already, on Sunday evening, Thursday evening and Saturday afternoon, and a fourth group wanting to start so locally there is much to encourage. These young people are all at different stages in their walk with the Lord and it involves a lot of pastoral care but these are the future of assembly testimony and we pray that many will go on for the Lord and become pillars in the local assembly.

Since being in the UK many of the young people have been in contact with us using social media technology and it has been good just to be able to maintain contact with them. This has proved important during the results of the recent elections in Angola. The governing party has once again won a big majority and there is widespread distrust of the authorities and the results. This has caused many to become bitter, angry and resentful and we have had to continually point them to Romans 13 and encourage them to keep praying rather than resort to the more radical methods that many of their fellow countrymen wish to do! So please remember the political situation in Angola in prayer.

We would also appreciate prayer for the overseeing of the Emmaus work in Angola. This has been something that Ruth Hadley was responsible for and although we have had a lot to do with the Luanda and Saurimo operations for many years through the work of the Angolan Literature Fund we now have to oversee this work nationwide. Yet another call upon time and energy and one that demands travel if it is to be done properly. We are grateful for the continued support of the Lord’s people for the Literature Fund, without it there would be no literature available for the people.

The print rooms set up by the Angolan Literature Fund although operated by national believers still need supervision as machines develop technical difficulties and this is very trying for all concerned. We would welcome prayer for this aspect of the work as it has a knock on effect in the literature supplies available and is another demand on time.

I am looking forward to recommencing monthly visits to Caiaza for Bible teaching, praying that not only will the few assemblies in that area be encouraged but also be fed with the sincere milk of the Word and be able to grow thereby. I have also monthly visits to Mukonda, two hours from Saurimo, planned starting in October, a good number of assemblies plan to gather once a month for Bible teaching morning and afternoon. Please pray for wisdom and help from the Lord to teach the Word in Chokwe to the many who will gather.

It is a very real concern to us that as we seek to meet the overwhelming social needs that are increasing with the economic crisis in Angola, along with the care of the lepers food program, the School and numerous daily demands that we don’t loose sight of the whole purpose of missionary work, and our being in Angola. The command is still “Preach the Gospel and make disciples, teaching them all things that I have commanded”. It is Debbie who deals with the daily requests and demands that we face living among a people in deep poverty and genuine need, and as a result gives me the time to preach and teach. So please pray for us as together we seek to serve the Lord and maintain the focus of preaching the Gospel and teaching the Scriptures and still reach out in compassion for the needy.

We are thankful to the Lord for the fellowship we have enjoyed with the assembly at Helions Bumpstead over the weeks. My knee operation went well and I am confident it will be fine on the rough uneven ground and deep sand of Angola. We have had some precious times with the family and have memories that we will treasure as we say our good byes once again.

We are looking forward very much to having Alex and Laura with us for Christmas, it will be a special time for us and them as Alex shows Laura where he spent his childhood years. We are hoping to return to the UK briefly in February 2018.

Thank you for standing with us in prayer, we increasingly realize our fragility and dependency on the Lord, events in the last months are a timely reminder that it is His work that we are involved in and it is in His name that once again we go.

Yours through grace,

Brian & Debbie