News from a Far Country: Angola
Joel & Kaleigh Griffin (Elysia, Svea, and Cora), Luau, Angola
Compiled by Mitch Taylor
Follow the Atlantic coast from the southern tip of the continent of Africa. The third country on your path is Angola, formerly a Portuguese colony, and a land devastated by war and political instability for about four decades. Peace has prevailed since 2002 and the nation is slowly rebuilding. Frederick Stanley Arnot, a family friend of David Livingstone, opened up the Gospel route through Angola in 1884. Since then many followers of Christ left their homelands to spread the Gospel in Angola over the last century. Many missionaries were forced to leave during the years of armed conflict. The Gospel work done over the last century stood the test of time and toil, and today there are many professing Christians and many assemblies in Angola.
Every generation needs a credible witness of the Gospel. Today in Angola there is a great need for clear proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to inform those who have never heard it, and to combat the many forms of confused gospels that are circulated. Nominal or surface Christianity is also common; solely a profession with the mouth which is void of authentic personal trust and surrender to Jesus Christ, and void of power from the Holy Spirit which is necessary for victorious living in Christ. There is a need for a throng of equipped national believers who can lead local churches in steadfast and effective witness to the truth of God’s word. Many Christians find it difficult to turn their backs once-and-for-all on witchcraft, which is deeply inset and woven into the culture and worldview of the people. The challenges are daunting, but our Lord is victorious!
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew28:18-20)
The secular view of Christian mission work is that it is “narrow” and simply “proselytizing”. That is not only an unfair caricature; it is untrue. The Gospel does not constrain or bind, it liberates and breaths in life where brokenness and sinful dysfunction have imprisoned and brought death. Built into the idea of “mission” is being sent for a purpose. With what purpose and with what authority do we go? On all the authority of Jesus Christ… which is “all authority in heaven and earth”! Therefore, we can go to make disciples of “all nations”; there is no limit to the redemptive work of Christ or the applicability of the Gospel. We can teach those who receive Christ to “observe all” the commandments of the LordJesus. We can be courageous knowing that the one with all authority said, “I am with you always”. Narrow? How about global, life-giving and eternal! No one is forced into the kingdom of God or into accepting Christ. The Gospel message is presented to “whosoever will”. The only sword employed is the metaphorical sword of God’s word. There is no coercion, just the goodness of God that brings individuals to repentance.
We serve the Lord in a railroad town in the interior of Angola, very near the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Lord has given us help and courage to build a home, become established in daily life in a community so different from our homeland, and begin ministry initiatives for making disciples of Jesus Christ.
Investment in children and young people is exciting. In a village near our home, we have a weekly time with children to pour the Scriptures into their hearts and point them to the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life. We sing, play games, and learn from the Bible together. We are thankful for help from Angolan Christians who join with us in this endeavour. We have been encouraged with several children responding to the Gospel message personally and professing to be saved.
On Sunday afternoons our yard is full of young people who come to enjoy some fun, sing choruses, and hear a Gospel message. Most come by foot from various neighbourhoods of the town. We pray that all of them would receive Christ and experience the joy of salvation.
On a daily basis, people come by our home looking for Christian literature. In our remote region of Angola, it is very difficult for people to find Christian literature, Bibles, and hymnbooks from any other source. It is a privilege to help distribute the written word that comes into the country through the Angolan Literature Fund, which is based in the United Kingdom.
Another important dedication of our time is directingsystematic home Bible studies with groups of Christians who desire to mature in their understanding of the word of God. So far, we have two core Bible study groups and there are other students who are waiting to have the opportunity to begin.
…what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses
entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
It is our goal that with time, love, and the powerful Scriptures, mature disciples will be made for the honour of Christ who then will go on to make disciples. We value your prayer to the Father for us, that he would work powerfully in us and through us, and that the domain of darkness that seeks to destroy the work of God would be driven back. May God’s kingdom come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10)!