Old timers in Kinshasa
Trip Start Jan 15, 2010
29Trip End Feb 17, 2010
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Where I stayed
After breakfast I prepared documents to be used in the leadership conference I’ll hold here from Tuesday to Thursday, and printed several in the hotel business center. Then at around 10:00 Jacob and Justin arrived to go with me on a few member visits with some men who’ve been with the church since the 70s. We left in a local taxi in the heavy, humid heat of the Congo. We’re about 4 degrees south of the equator here in Kinshasa, so it is always hot and humid.
He explained his start in the Church, when he started receiving literature in 1968. He had his first visit in 1974 when Harold Jackson (a name known to many who follow this blog) came through on a baptizing tour, and who, by coincidence, stayed at the same hotel where I am staying now…. Simon was baptized a few years later and has been faithful ever since. When our previous association took a different direction doctrinally, he separated from it in the 2000s, and has been fellowshipping with a few friends in Kinshasa who also maintained the same beliefs. He was thrilled to discover the French publications of UCG and to know that we have keep the same fundamental beliefs as he knew years ago, and especially to have someone come to Kinshasa representing such a church association.
He pulled out the ministerial album the church published in 1988, and found the photo of my wife and me (somewhat younger than we are now).
This next one was with Jacques Ginyama, also an “old timer” who had his first visit in the 70s as well, but not with Harold Jackson. Jacques and his wife offered us fruit juice and soda as we talked in their dark, and very warm, living room.
Jacques brought out his old publications too, as well as copies of correspondence starting with a copy of his first letter sent to the Church office in Geneva in 1972.
He told me of his health problems too. He is advanced in age and has one eye that has visibly gone milky. He can’t see well out of it and it gives him headaches at times. He had one operation some years back, and after that used different kinds of medicinal drops for several months, but without remedying the problem. His doctor then told him they needed to wait until a specialist can come, probably from outside the country, for an exact diagnosis. So he is on the waiting list.
After a long visit, he shook my hand warmly and said he was so happy to have found the Church of God once again. “It is like coming back to the surface after being held underwater for a long time” he told me. “I might have given up; I’m so thankful!” he said with emotion. I told him how happy I was to meet him and to be able to bring him contact and greetings from his brethren in other countries, and that we would do our best to serve him and to all walk forward together.
We walked up the alley to the taxi which was still waiting in the street and made the hour-or-so drive back to the hotel. Jacob and Justin and I worked on details of the conference, photocopies to be made, budgeting, accounting, and so on. It was late afternoon by this time, so they headed out to make the preparations. I escorted them to the front door to make sure they wouldn’t have any problems with security on the way out.
I’ll rest up tonight and make my final preparations for the start of the conference tomorrow.