Victor Kubik speaks with Jorge de Campos about new developments of a church in Angola.
[Victor Kubik] This is Victor Kubik, President of the United Church of God. Our guest today is Jorge de Campos, senior pastor for God's work in the Portuguese language. Welcome, Jorge.
[Jorge de Campos] Thank you, Mr. Kubik.
[Victor] Jorge is going to talk today about the continuation of what we do in the Work of God in Portuguese. We had spoken to him earlier about what he does in Brazil, but there's another country which speaks Portuguese, and that is Angola in South-West Africa. And we have a very interesting phenomenon take place there. It is that we have come into contact with thousands of people who have a belief structure very similar to ours, that have had a relationship or knowledge about us going back a couple of decades, possibly slightly more. But Jorge, why don't you start and tell us about this very interesting development in Angola.
[Jorge] Thank you, Mr. Kubik. Well, let me go back to how they explained to me how it all started because I asked questions from them. In the early '80s, they were a small group, a Sunday keeping group, and they realized they needed to keep the Sabbath. Purely by studying the Bible, they realized to keep the Sabbath, so they became a Sabbath-keeping group. There were a few of them that left them, but the majority of them realized they had to keep the Sabbath, which is interesting because in the Portuguese language and many others the word Saturday is Sabbath. There's no two words. There's not Saturday and Sabbath. There's only one word. But anyway, over the course of time, during the next, let's call it decade, they realized that they needed to do more than just keep the Sabbath. They needed to keep the Sabbaths, and it was the annual Holy Days.
And then they came across the Plain Truth. This was in the late '80s. And then they realized they needed...and then they understood the plain truth. They understood that it was more than just a Holy Days. It was clean and unclean meats, and other things like that. And then they wanted to enter in contact with Worldwide Church of God, as it was at that time. So two of their elders gathered a little bit of money and they went from Angola South into what we call now Namibia. At that time, it was South-West Africa. And when they got to Namibia, they ran out of money.
However, they managed to get in touch with a Worldwide Church of God member in Northern Namibia, and that member helped them and took them to the Post Office. And then they sent a telegram to the church's office in Johannesburg. Then the offices gave that telegram to me because, obviously, I was a deacon at that time and I spoke Portuguese, and they asked me to contact these people. And I put them in contact with Pasadena, and then from there towards 1995 they became...they changed the name to Worldwide Church of God in Angola.
[Victor] I used to work in Pasadena, California, at that time and I remember that occurring from a distance. I saw this group contacting us and our International Department and interest being taken. So it's interesting to fill this in as we talk about our relationship with them now.
[Jorge] Correct. Well, they became Worldwide Church of God in Angola. Then, a few months later, a year later, they got an instructive letter or a ministerial letter, let's call it that, from Worldwide Church of God telling them that they do not need to keep the Sabbath and observe the dietary restrictions of eating unclean foods. They looked at this and said, "No. Come on. This is a joke." And threw it away. And the bulk of them, the majority of them, stayed loyal to the truth.
Subsequently, Worldwide Church of God told them they have to give up the name that they had. And they actually went to court in Angola and they won the court case, and they kept, and they still hold, the name Worldwide Church of God in. Angola. So they have done quite a lot of work towards keeping that name and legalizing it in the country.
During the course of time, there was a gentleman that contacted them from Pasadena and visited them. And this gentleman, I'm withholding the name as a respect to the individual, but this gentleman, according to what they told me, told them they were the only people in the world that remained faithful to God's truth. Basically, that was the understanding they got from this man that there was nobody else around the world and they, in Angola, were the remnant people.
And so they kept being faithful for these, let's say, 20 years believing that they were the only ones to keep these days. In the course of time, last year, we improved the quality of our website and some of their younger faithful brethren saw us on the Web. They saw that stuff, our booklets, our fundamental beliefs. They gave them to the leadership. They studied them, and this young man contacted me just after the Feast, this past year 2015, saying, "We are surprised and excited that we are not the only ones because we've studied all your 20 fundamental beliefs, and they are exactly what we believe. We're exactly in line. Can we talk more?" And so we went, and now I hold Skype calls with them every week with the leadership. And what it ended up is, during my visit to Brazil, I then hopped across the pond, and there it was the Southern Atlantic Ocean, and I went to visit them. So we had leadership training. We met them. It was a very joyous time, and it was really exciting.
[Victor] Well, that's an amazing story. What are you going to do as far as the future relationship that we have with them?
[Jorge] They want to be more joint to us. My feeling, and I discussed it with the council, is that it's an engagement period. Let's not just get married before we really get to know one another. And they are very happy with that. They wrote a formal letter to us. We wrote a formal letter to them in reply. They are very happy with the relationship. It's all going well. When I was there, they had combined services in Luanda. They have four congregations in Luanda. And those four congregations gathered together in one of the areas they have but because it was just too many people, we could not meet inside the hall. In fact, there was nearly 700 brethren that we got together in, and they all wanted to shake hand with me. And indeed, I shook hand with every single one of them, man, woman, and child. And this was just a very moving experience.
[Victor] It's incredible what has happened down there. These people who have the same fundamental beliefs as we do, our 20 fundamental beliefs, how did they come across and how have they evangelized others to come to understand this? Tell us a little bit more about this.
[Jorge] Basically...there's just one thing I want to interject here. These people have not asked me or United for one cent. They have not asked. In other words, to me, this is God's spirit. This is so encouraging. But what they did ask is help with spiritual food. And I get very emotional with this. Just about to get tears because when I was with them, a number of times they did things that it was just very emotional. Like for instance, one of their choirs, because each congregation has their choir and they dress beautifully. I'm telling you, these people have basically nothing, but they come to church dressed in suits and ties. The services are exactly like we have, three songs, a sermonette, another song, announcements.
[Victor] The whole thing.
[Jorge] The whole thing exactly like we do. It's so exciting! But during one of their choirs, part of the choir song, this young man said, "Here is Elijah, describing as Elijah. And Elijah then went to the Lord and said, "The Lord, they've killed all the prophets. I'm the only one." And the Lord then replied to him, "Elijah, you're not the only one. There are 7,000 knees that have not bowed to Bael." And then they said in the choir, in the song...obviously, this is all in Portuguese so it's very moving. In the choir, in the song, they said, "We, Worldwide Church of God in Angola, we thought we were alone, but we're not because we now met the United Church of God."
Brethren, this is so moving. I had tears listening to that. And they did a choir song just to sing that while I was there. And I think that was so exciting. So to answer your question how are they evangelizing, they really don't have a lot. So what they do is...it's like they set up in a town, maybe there is a flea market or something like that in the area, where you put a table, etc. They have some very simple pamphlets, a one-pager. And they train the young people...and I mean young people, I mean young 20-year-olds and things like that. And then, on a Sunday, once a month or when it's convenient to them, then they go to this area. These young people are there having a few pamphlets and addressing any questions that people have. And as such, then they grow. So that's their way of evangelizing. Buy they're using the young people. And the young people are committed. They know the truth, and they are now to defend the faith.
[Victor] Well, it seems to be successful.
[Jorge] And it is successful, and God's blessing it.
[Victor] That's really interesting. Maybe we have something to learn from them.
[Jorge] Exactly. That's what I told them. They said, "I'm learning so much from you, Mr. de Campos." And I said, "Yes, you've learned a lot from me, but I've learned even more from you." Because their spirit and their attitude is just...you can see it's God's spirit. You feel that affinity from day one.
[Victor] Tell me more about The Good News Mmagazine and you might be working with them. You have some thoughts about that.
[Jorge] Yes, I have had some thoughts about that. What I told them is they can use our literature freely provided they respect the editorial rights. They can take articles from us. They can republish them. They can do all that. But in discussions with them, in fact, maybe we should print The Good News there like we currently print in Brazil. Maybe in The Good News" in the back where we have currently, for instance, the Brazil address, we would have, "Published by United Church of God and distributed in Angola by Worldwide Church of God in Angola," and then their address and things like that. And this is just thoughts that I need to discuss with people, but then we could just send them the requests, and they could mail them directly from there. Print there and things like that.
They're just so excited with these sort of possibilities. They told me yesterday, and this is news to you, Mr. Kubik. They told me yesterday that they have a radio program there, the local Luanda radio program. They had discussions with the radio station. They want to give them an opportunity to have a 30 minutes national radio program in Angola.
[Victor] Amazing, amazing.
[Jorge] And they are, obviously, going to take it to their council because they also...very structured. Very similar like ours. They work with a council. They've got a council of ministers, and then based on what the council says, then they act accordingly. Very similar to the way we do it, which is amazing. If the council approves, their desire is to walk through that door, which I think it's exciting!
[Victor] Tell us what our listeners should be praying about. I know that people pray or the work of God and so forth. Tell us what we should be praying for, Jorge.
[Jorge] There are basically two things that I usually pray, and particularly when I travel. I ask brethren to pray for these things: First one is godly love. That in that whatever dealings we do with them, a godly love is there in everything we do. That we treat them respectfully. That we love them. That everything is according to God's great love of grace and graciousness towards us that it's done that way. Secondly, I pray that I have in all my dealings discernment with wisdom. All our words may come out with that approach. And that goes in with the concept of, as we hear in Peter, growing grace and knowledge because grace is through God's love and knowledge is through using and applying things with the right wisdom.
And that is one angle. Then the other angle is the physical angle. I'm a one person. When I go there, I need to be in good health. I need to be protected. I need to be protected from whatever diseases and things like that. Now my wife and I, we're going to go there again, God willing, in July. We already booked the tickets and things like that, so we're planning to go there. And so those are the things that we can pray. That we exhibit the right love, that God gives us the right discernment, and that God gives us the health to do his work and to serve his people around the world.
[Victor] That's very, very interesting. I'm glad you're going over in July, which is not far off, and we're looking forward to hearing an update report because this is big news for us. We have been all very, very interested because of the scale of our working with them, and also the unusual relationship.
[Jorge] It's very encouraging. Really, my heart is just melting. These are lovely people. Really, they are lovely people. It's mind-boggling. It's just mind-boggling. It really is God's spirit. And you can't believe that all these people living all these years by themselves, but it's the same spirit. And that is so encouraging.
[Victor] Thank you very much. And Jorge, send greeting to the people from all of us here at the home office.
[Jorge] Thank you so much for mentioning that because they, in fact, yesterday mentioned to me exactly the same thing. "Please, give our greeting to all the brethren around the world." Thank you for reminding me of that.
[Victor] I guess you could give greetings to them before you go because you Skype with them weekly. Thank you for joining us today, Jorge.
[Jorge] Thank you, sir.
[Victor] Thanks for joining us on "Inside United". Please come back again soon for more.