Update on Refugee Brethren
By the hand of the LORD, many Christadelphian families who have fled Africa as refugees have found themselves spread throughout North America. Some are blessed to be near existing ecclesias, but sadly, others are in isolation. Brothers and sisters, ecclesias and Bible schools have responded to the call to provide pastoral care to those who make a new life so far from the home they know. Here are a few updates on the pastoral activities related to brothers and sisters relocated from Africa.
In August, Sis. Lonti Shindano and Sis. Jackie Shindano returned home to Seattle after their year-long service as domestic missionaries in Avon. Here is their report.
For the last six months most of our time in Indiana seemed to have flown by. Jr CYC went great. We had it once a week, and often throughout the week we would hang out with the kids. We enjoyed sleepovers and picnics at the park with our new friends often, and hours upon hours of volleyball. Our CYC would have six to nine regular attendees depending on the week, but in late April we had a new family move to the area from Arizona, adding four more kids to our CYC and six to the Sunday school roster.
The family is originally from Congo and they too spoke Swahili. They have been in America for about four and half years. They had moved just in time for the Sunday school play. The kids were all very excited to participate. The Sunday school play was based on what the kids had learned this past year, which was the Acts of the apostles. We took different stories from Acts and the kids acted them out, along with a few songs. We were able to see Faza and her children a few more times as well, though they were not able to join us for the Sunday school performances, the kids had practiced with us often.
Though the ecclesia is few in number, there is a great love there. We were blessed to often have visitors, and when all the families were able to attend ecclesial activities and functions, the hall was full and lively. We enjoyed a Passover meal together as an ecclesial family, Bible readings at the park, and everyday fellowship one with another.
Leaving Indiana has been a challenge, as many relationships have been built in the last year. We are ever thankful that God granted us this opportunity to be with those of like precious faith and be of service to them, and them likewise to us. We hope to go back and visit regularly, and pray earnestly that God continues to nurture and care for this small lovely ecclesia and every ecclesia worldwide as we wait for the soon return of our Lord and savior.
Upstate New York and Newfoundland
In April, Bro. Benoit Mukendi visited Buffalo, New York to drop clothes and other supplies with the new family of eight brethren and sisters relocated from the Gasorwe ecclesia in Burundi. They are the Barakas family (Bro. Jonathan, Bro. David, Sis. Hortence and Sis. Rose) and the Botis family (Bro. Mwenebatu, Bro. Alphonse, Sis. Mauwa and Sis. Lwitela). In addition to these eight baptized members, there are four young people preparing for baptism and some younger children attending Sunday School classes.
In May, Bro. Benoit travelled to Newfoundland to visit Bro. Mushi Zawako and Sis. Zainabu Simba who have six children and two grandchildren. The family came from the Cayankuzo ecclesia in Burundo. Five of the family members are studying from the “Preparing for Baptism” teaching materials with weekly remote classes led by Bre. Lennox Prashad, Jim Keating and Benoit Mukendi.
In June, Bro. Benoit and Bro. Jonathan Baraka visited Bro. Eninga in Syracuse, New York. Bro. Eninga is from the Nyarugusu ecclesia in Tanzania and came into the Truth with two wives. His first wife lives with him in Syracuse along with their five children, while his second wife and children remain in Africa waiting to relocate to the U.S.. Bro. Eninga’s wife was originally reluctant to send the children to Sunday School, but has now softened on her position, and the children are attending classes.
Des Moines, Iowa
The ecclesia in Des Moines continues to thrive and actively preach the Word of God to those around them. Made up of 17 brothers and sisters and a similar number of children in Sunday School, the ecclesial members have a good number of friends who come to the meeting, some of whom are taking baptismal classes.
Over the past few months, several new families have moved into the area, helping to make this a vibrant and exciting lamp stand in the mid-West. This month, Bro. Tony Ball was able to spend a weekend with the ecclesia.
After 6 1/2 years meeting at the local VFW hall, the ecclesia just secured a new meeting location. The new building is a large, excellent location that is well suited for ecclesial meetings. It used to be a private Lutheran school building and is in great shape. The address is 5625 Franklin Ave., Des Moines, IA 50310. If you find yourself in the area, please be sure to visit as you’ll be welcomed with open arms.
Eastern Christadelphian Bible School
In July, the Eastern Christadelphian Bible School once again provided classes in Swahili to those who might not otherwise be able to enjoy a Bible School. Classes this year were led by Bro. Bernard Ikola on the theme of Fellowship, and several families came from all across North America to meet together in New England.