Old timers in Kinshasa

Trip Start Jan 15, 2010
Trip End Feb 17, 2010

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Where I stayed

Flag of Congo - The Dem. Repub.  ,
Monday, February 1, 2010

This morning I was successfully sleeping in after my long day, when I had a knock at my door at 7:30. That's quite early to have any staff knock on the door, so I wondered who it could be. I dressed quickly went to look through the peep hole. It was indeed two room staff. I opened the door and they ask if they could have my bath towels. Hotels in the region, even good hotels often suffer from a shortage of towels, so they collect them in the morning, wash and dry them and try to get them back in the rooms being used in the afternoon sometime. But at 7:30? I told them I hadn’t used mine yet, and they went on to the next rooms. I had a suspicion, so I called the front desk and asked what time it was. 8:30 was the reply.  The announcement on the plane yesterday about what time it was on landing had been an hour off. So I spent all the rest of yesterday thinking it was an hour earlier than it really was. I thought I had waited patiently until 7:00 pm for the pizzeria to open, when I had actually waited until 8:00.  Oh well. And 8:30 am is still rather early to ask for the towels!

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.

We drove about an hour to a quarter of Kinshasa, called Lemba, which I had never visited. The street views along the way were interesting as usual. Once one leaves the main thoroughfares, the streets are in pretty poor shape in places. Some "potholes" were so large we actually drove down into them and then back up out of them.  We finally stopped at the home of Simon Lukubama. He had a very large smile on his face as we were introduced. "You are most welcome" he told me, “I have been looking forward to meeting you; I thought I had lost the Church of God.” He is a very thin, frail looking man of 82, but moves in a spritely and energetic way, when not troubled by his illness. He has suffered for years with a digestive problem that sounded to me like a sort of chronic dysentery, but I don’t know if that exists.

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). He was interested when I pointed out the photo of my parents next to my wife and me.  Simon and his wife offered us a soft drink as we talked, and he remained very excited as he told me his story. Simon asked to be anointed for his illness and I was happy to be able to oblige. If his health permits, he will attend our leadership conference starting tomorrow.  We shook hands with him and his son, who had arrived after our visit started, and Jacob, Justin and I drove on to another visit in the same township.

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. They introduced us to two of their grandchildren, a boy and a girl of around 7-8 years of age.  As we sat down, the boy asked a question in Lingala, the local language.  This was translated to me, very diplomatically, as “why are you fat?” Hmmm, how to answer that for a 7 year-old? “Big bones”? “I’m American”? “Go to your room!”?  I settled for “I sit down too much.” That seemed to satisfy him.

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 wanted to share his story to explain how he ended up where he is now, and to share his excitement to have connected with the Church of God family once again.

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.
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danielandcindy on

What an inspiring day! Thank you for sharing the story of these people who have remained faithful all these years. We will pray for the conference and for your continued protection.

Reggie Warren on

Hello Joel,
This entry as well as the others is really inspiring. It is wonderful that you take the time to post these entries and to include the details and to include pictures that put faces to those you visit.
Reggie Warren

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