Dec 2023 saw a small group of three men journey north with a specific mission; to meet with as many of the church leaders as possible and teach them three reproducible tools to help them help their people grow in knowledge of the Word, their devotions and evangelism. We travelled from Cape Town (departing 21h00 on 7 Dec) to Windhoek in one trip, collected Michael (who flew in for the USA), overnighted in Okahandja at Kings Highway. On the Friday 8 Dec we arrived in Ondangwa.
The Team: Paul Green, Ross Bartholomew and Michael Simmons
On our journey northward from Cape Town to Ondangwa where we planned to base at our trusty hosts, George and Mgano Jeremia, we stopped at Tsumeb and met with some leaders there.
7 leaders being taught how to present 2 Ways to Live, by Michael
We arrived on Saturday afternoon. Our first scheduled session was on Sunday afternoon so on Sunday morning we drank in some history...
Visiting the Nakambali museum, the place of the first Finnish missionaries. Maggie, who we know from years ago, ably guiding us. If you are ever in this region Nakambali is a place to visit. The tour shows how these first missionaries lived and brought the Gospel to the local people. The methods used to translate the Bible into the local langage of OshiKwanyama was an extremely lengthy and arduous task.
Sunday, 10 Dec, afternoon we spent a few hrs in ministry at Christ Church Ondangwa. We had 16 folk from 6 churches join us and it was a great time together. This is the mother church for Reach Nam.
On Monday, 11 Dec, we went to Imago Deo in Oshakati West and it was a great time, temp was 380C. We started with some singing and prayer and then it was over to us. Initially there were 14 people but that grew to 22 representing 4 churches, including Bishop Katenda. We each presented our material and had good engagement.
On Tuesday morning, 12 Dec, we met at New Jerusalem Church in Ongha. There were 8 folk in attendance, from 3 churches, until the Bishop joined us to add 3 more to the number. After we shared our teaching there was some good discussions on prayer - the how and why and why it often isn't very important in this culture, also how it is often used alongside the witch doctors and prophets to ensure that one method will work for them. We also had a good discussion around discipleship and why it is so important for all Christians to engage in.
Thereafter we had to travel easterly just below the border with Angola to Eenhana where we met Lazarus Hakwaake and 9 other leaders at All Souls Church, again representing 3 churches. We had to rush a little as they had a memorial service at 16h00 and needed to travel for an hour to get there. We managed to get through all the material and also have some discussions.
As always it is wonderful for me to meet all the friends from previous visits, some who I have not seen for many years. This church is built in the pastor's back yard. They are small but have passion for expansion.
After our ministry at All Souls we had to drop off our interpretor, Victor David, who had been with us for the days of ministry. On the wall behind us you can see the signage for a kindergarten, which is housed in the church during the week - all at the Pastor's home who also works for the local government in Eenhana and his wife works in Windhoek. Please pray that she would be able to find employment locally so that they can operate as a team.
The formal part of our time in Ondangwa was amazingly done... But God!
God had much planned for us and much to ponder and reflect on. I have been coming here since 2012 and know that we are continually experiencing new things. Today was no exception. We had planned to meet Kambauh (who we have over the years dubbed as our "Paul" like the one of Bible fame), and then visit a church and look at another. That is what we did but oh so much more than we anticipated.
After we collected Kambauh we started on a journey southwards to eventually get to the first church, called Lord Bless us. On the way Kambauh told us how he got to plant this and the other churches in the area - 3 of them, which are about 50km south-east from his church, but many hours away even by vehicle.
We travelled for about an hour on a tarred road and then good gravel road, then we turning off onto a twin track thick sand road. The bush and sand gradually got thicker but our Rav4 was amazing. Not once did it hesitate despite very tricky conditions through the thick sand (thank you very much to our vehicle sponsor!!). Kambauh then told us how he had made this road himself so that vehicles could get to the church - it took him a week or so to make - cutting down trees and bushes. An amazing accomplishment. He also told us that often he would come to visit this and another church without a road and have to ride donkeys to get through the sand to the church. He had to eat from whatever the people he met along the way blessed him with and now even eats Cicada beetles! He would normally just sleep in the bush.
It took us about an hr to drive the 7km to the first church which was built by the funds raised during our July mission. This is the inside of the church. The people who attended the baptism service (we didn't know it would be) had walked for hours to get there. There are no signs of homes anywhere around the church. Kambauh told us that his plan is to establish churches where there are none so that there is no competition and that unreached people are reached. Kambauh asked Paul, one of our team, to preach which was an amazing axperience for him and he did a great job!
Kambauh wanted to show us the newest church, Lord Lift us up, and so we set off on a very long drive through more thick sand and about 16km later and many wrong turns, we arrived at what I called the bird's Nest church. This church has been build using what is available as it is extremely difficult to get any materials like poles or corrugated iron there. No trucks would be able to get there. They had to build something or else the headman would give the land to someone else, probably a bar as they are everywhere and a cause for much concern.
On this, our last day on Ondangwa, we learnt much and thank our Lord for this special day. In our comfortable western world we have no clue what it is like to really work hard at church planting and the many struggles faced here.
We left Ondangwa at 03h00 on Thursday 14 Dec, dropped off Michael (and George Jnr. our host's son) in Windhoek and then proceeded to our overnight stop at the Country Hotel in Gunau - a 14hr drive.
Friday, 15 Dec, saw us complte the trip home to Cape Town. Praise the Lord for all His care and protection during the 5000km travelling as well as the impact for the Kingdom and on our lives. All glory to Him!