We arrived back in the UK at the weekend after a five-month stay in Angola and while things are still fresh in our minds and memories seek to send out a brief update to encourage prayer and thanksgiving.
We continue to be so encouraged by the Lord as we see His hand in the lives of the believers locally. A number of the young men are seeking to develop and use the gifts that the Lord has given them, and some are showing genuine concern for their fellow countrymen and trying to reach out locally to the many unsaved in the village. The two brothers who have been recently recognized as elders have made a considerable difference within the assembly with fresh vision and demonstrate real love and concern for the believers. We now can call upon at least 5 brothers to teach the Word on basic Biblical truths within the assembly and 8 who we can be confident that they will preach the Gospel faithfully. As we recall what it was like in the not too distant past, we can only say that this is the Lords doing and it is marvelous in our eyes.
With the work locally growing stronger and with confidence in the national believers we feel that we should now start visiting assemblies beyond Camundambala and in the town of Saurimo on a more regular basis. It is then that we are confronted with the solemn facts of how desperate the needs are spiritually, the need for Bible teaching is massive and the Lords Supper underlines how deep the ignorance is of even basic truths. A fleeting once a year visit is simply an encouragement but achieves very little and with 25 assemblies in town just 6 miles away, and every village having an assembly in every direction out of town it is overwhelming. We need new workers, men who will learn the language and buckle down to grafting away locally.
I have been able to maintain 5 bible study classes per week and it is through these small, consecutive, weekly studies that real progress is made. Much more could be done but at the moment with the practical work on going 5 weekly studies plus the assembly activities is as much as I can do. Prayer would be appreciated that this work continues to be blessed of the Lord. We have just completed a course with 10 young men from the assembly “The Gospel Of the Bible” it is 15 lessons on the doctrines of the Gospel and they have really appreciated the studies and their eyes have been opened to the so great salvation that they have.
CAMUNDAMBALA PRIMARY SCHOOL
Since Ruth’s home call we have been heavily involved with the daily running of the School in a logistical rather than teaching role. It is taking more of our time and Debbie works closely with the Head and deputy to try and make sure that the teachers and pupils have what they need from day to day. Please pray for Marcus (Head Teacher) and Mavunda (Deputy Head) that they will be kept well and remain motivated. If they were ill for any length of time or left then we would really struggle. They were called to a Government meeting last week where they were told that the Government has no money to pay wages, or to take on new teachers, cannot supply the school textbooks and cannot replace tables or chairs and yet want every school to take on more children as the demand exceeds the number of schools. Already some classes have in excess of 50 children.
We have tried to do some much needed maintenance work on the old part of the School during the School holidays and have been able to keep some of the young men employed while the main building work on the new classrooms has halted. We have had heavy rains for the last month or two and that has limited the amount of outside work done. With Jon Singleton returning to Angola last week and the prospect of Brass Tack workers going later this month then we are hopeful of significant progress being made on the new classrooms.
While the school holidays were on we were able to do some much needed maintenance on the Land Rover that is used to transport the school teachers, with several different drivers using the vehicle we have discovered that in the end no one actually feels responsible to maintain the levels and check it over. Its another call on time and finance but an essential part of keeping the school running day by day. We are hopeful that a Land Rover mechanic will visit us during the year to do so much needed maintenance and diagnostic work, it will be a tremendous help to us.
AID & ASSISTANCE
During the last five months Debbie has daily been treating numerous folk from the village, mainly for Malaria. It is quite amazing what can be done with the most basic of medicines to help people in need. We were able to help a sister in the assembly have an operation in hospital to remove a cyst, and another young married man we were able to send to Luanda to have much needed dental treatment. Scabies is a daily sight as children and young people come for help. This shows us that there is not enough money in their households for soap, any money available is spent on feeding the family. Our little medical post at Camundambala has no medicines and it is pitiful to see sick people turn up each day in the hope of getting the medicines they require. We are confronted daily with great need and we realize that these poor people have no one else to turn to, and when we leave they verbalize just how lonely they feel. We are indebted to Sam Simonyi - Gindele for his advice and care for the sick people that we send to him at Buila almost 4 hours away or when we Whatsapp him with a picture and say “how do we treat this? We continue with the monthly food distribution for the lepers and widows and although what we give seems so little they are very appreciative. Thankfully the water pumps have been working well for the local population and the leper village, this is down to the constant attention that a local brother who we have employed for the past 20 years does a great job in maintenance day by day.
LITERATURE AND PRINTING WORK
This is on going and we are thankful for our Angolan co-workers involved in it day to day. The Angolan Literature Fund continues to be a great blessing and we are looking forward to receiving shortly 14,000 Portuguese Bibles. We are thankful that despite reducing prices of literature to rock bottom and lower as the need demands, even giving Bibles away free, we have been able to maintain a rotating fund. Much more could be done to distribute the literature, but we are faced with two big issues, 1) the roads are horrendous and less and less vehicles are now travelling beyond the cities. If I personally went then it would entail leaving other responsibilities that I have. 2) Finding reliable and honest folk in outlaying areas that could receive literature worth several thousand dollars and be sure that the finance was going to return. If your family is struggling to afford to eat and you are holding money from literature sales wouldn’t you be tempted to use it to feed, clothe and buy medicines to meet your needs? It is impossible to expect someone to pay up front for literature when there is such deep poverty.
PRESENT SITUATION IN ANGOLA
Politically Angola is calm, the new President is promising a lot but so far little has changed. Fuel is scarce and we now buy it in 20 litre cans or barrels of 200 litres. The roads are desperate and what used to take 16 hours is now taking a lorry 5 days from Luanda to Saurimo. I think it won’t be long before we struggle to find a lorry driver willing to undertake the journey. Food prices are increasing, the exchange rate for the dollar has gone from 320Kwz/$1 to 440kwz/$1 in the last few months.
We are home for a short period of 7 weeks and hope God willing to return on the 25Marchth, we do feel in need of a break and we would value prayer that we will both feel refreshed spiritually and physically to return then. We trust that through this brief account you will be able to pray for and give thanks for what the Lord is doing. We are so thankful for the sustained prayer support and love shown by so many and would simply ask that you continue to stand with us as fellow labourers in the work of the Gospel in Angola.
Brian & Debbie