Darris McNeely talks with Victor Kubik about his recent trip to South Africa and Malawi.
[Darris McNeely] Welcome to Inside United podcast, I'm Darris McNeely and in the studio today with this is Victor Kubik, President of the United Church of God. Vic it's good to have you back again.
[Victor Kubik] Hello Darris.
[Darris] Actually to have you back from your latest trip even more so because you've just come back from more than a two week trip to South Africa and to Malawi. What exactly was the purpose of this trip and who did you see and why did you go?
[Victor] First of all it's the Holy Days season time and to us it is a spring Holy Days, for them it is the autumn Holy Days because their seasons are backward there. We went there for the Passover, for the Days of Unleavened bread and that's what we surrounded our trip with. But also it was to encourage the people. They really really enjoy having someone come and talk to them and a few other things that we'll be talking about.
[Darris] Okay, so where was your first stop then?
[Victor] Our first stop was in Johannesburg there we were there for the Sabbath and met with the people and also had a full day Sunday before we flew on up to Malawi. You only fly to Malawi on certain days to certain cities so we had to wait an extra day, Monday, to get up to the capital of Lilongwe where there's only four flights a week.
[Darris] Okay and in Johannesburg you met with congregations. What's the size of the group and how are they doing?
[Victor] We had 59 people for Sabbath services. It was really a nice crowd considering that when I was there in five years ago we meet in a living room. It was just a small group of people.
[Darris] So they've been blessed with some growth there.
[Victor] They've been blessed with growth and there are people continually coming and now we have a television program, it's bringing more identity to the church.
[Darris] So Beyond Today is aired in South Africa then.
[Victor] Yes it is. It's actually on a local television station in Cape Town. I believe it's Channel 6 at 8:30 on Sunday mornings but it's also carried by DStv which is one of their big cable providers on channel 263 and not only seen in South Africa but any other country that picks up DStv and we have responses from Kenya and other countries.
[Darris] So the broadcast signals goes to other regions of Africa.
[Victor] It goes to other regions but it's not that easy because of the decoder issues. It's primarily a South African thing.
[Darris] Are they are getting a good response down there?
[Victor] Actually they are. They have as many as 80 responses on a Sunday morning which actually is quite good for that program.
[Darris] Did you hold any meeting with any of the leaders there for any training or anything like that? Was that part of the trip?
[Victor] That's a big part of the trip, is that one of the things that's really needed for Africa and you know, almost all the countries but particular ones that I've been somewhat connected with over the years is a need for continual new leadership, you know future leaders. Five years ago we didn't even have an elder and now we have three elders and so we have a program now and it's essential to train new leaders. They're very hungry for it, they really want our help because really we manage that area, we oversee it from the United States. We're 8,000 miles away, it's expensive to get there and we really want the people there to carry the load, not only in taking care of weekly Sabbath services but also to strategically plan for the future.
[Darris] And they're wanting our help to do so?
[Victor] Absolutely, they are planning a conference for example. One that's been planned at a resort for leaders in South Africa August 6th through 8th or so and we suggested that we have somebody come which is actually we suggested your name and they were delighted. They said...
[Darris] I'm glad they were delighted.
[Victor] They said, we don't want him to help, we want him to do it.
[Darris] We'll be ready and looking forward to going down. You went on from there to Malawi.
[Victor] Yeah there's such a contrast between South Africa and Malawi. When you go to South Africa you don't even feel like you're in Africa.
[Darris] It's very modern and much like America.
[Victor] It's very much, like the new freeway that they have going north-south between Pretoria and Johannesburg has four, five lanes each way. Electronic toll booths, traffic...
[Darris] They have shopping malls just like America.
[Victor] Just like we do. You really don't even feel like you're in Africa. However it has two economies, an economy that rivals our economy and also one that is more African. You can have a major freeway and then you get a squatters village at the end of the off-ramp. They do have two economies.
[Darris] Then Malawi is completely different.
[Victor] Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. When I had statistics that I was using for the animations, it was rated as the third poorest country. I see also other ratings as seventh. But anyways in the bottom 10 countries of the world.
[Darris] There are two different Africa's from my personal experience as well. I've been to Kenya as well as South Africa and I know exactly what you're talking about there but the people, the members are extremely warm and appreciative of our help, our presence and God and the truth. I remember going to Kenya a few years ago for the Feast of Tabernacles and having the thought, the way they kept the feast with in tents, in a rural setting with the grain, the feed, the animals, this must be a little closer to what it might have been like in the time of Israel as they kept the Feast in that period of time. And perhaps just a little closer to an understanding of a different way to keep the Feast but the same spirit same truth and wonderful people.
Vic, any personal take away of any more personal matter that you dealt with and saw there that you could tell us about?
[Victor] In the Lilongwe church for example, we were somewhat concerned about the fact that they are so far away from their pastor. They are 250 miles away from their pastor, they have two deacons, each which live an hour out from church which in Malawi is a long way. They're not even there on many Sabbaths. The church is really, I would say is challenged to be able to have a sense of excitement in unity and wholeness. We were able to ordain a deacon which we hadn't even thought about before we came there but we talked to the leaders. He's a welder, he's a man that we have known over time. We've helped him with some welding equipment for his business. He and his wife have been servants and one interesting thing here is that often times leaders just kind of come out of nowhere. You know you think about people very obvious people that you want to serve and then here's somebody right under your nose that's been doing it and when we talked about it, people said, yeah sure that'd be great. You know, talking to the current deacons and the pastor.
We were able to ordain Alfred Matamoni and the congregation just clapped with enthusiasm after the ordination. That was really wonderful to see that. If he lives 10 minutes from church and he's just always there setting things up, we were hopeful that events like this will give the church more life. Plus with the training sessions we can have discussions about how to organize activities, how to do things for youths, how to do things with music for the Feast of Tabernacles and so on. We really want that church to be able to do a lot of things on its own. We all ready are providing them with a building and with a lot of benefits that way but they really need something from the heart.
[Darris] Well Vic we're glad to have you back and I'm looking forward to going down to Malawi and South Africa here in a few months and work with the people there. We appreciate the work that's been done and know that they do as well and look forward to updating people on that part of the world.
Thanks for joining us on Inside United, come back again soon for more.