Jorge and Kathy de Campos discuss their recent trip to Angola and report on a church that has been isolated for 21 years.
[Victor Kubik] This is Victor Kubik, president of the United Church of God. We have been in contact with churches that believe very similar to us in Angola. These churches contacted us in October and November of this past year and they were very interested in us. They have had some contact with us and our predecessors and we’re very interested in having some discussion. Jorge de Campos had traveled there after the Passover this last year for an initial visit and found that to be very interesting and now has gone back with his wife, Kathy, to visit them again and we want to talk about that today. Good morning.
[Jorge de Campos] Good morning.
[Kathy de Campos] Good morning.
[Victor] Tell us about your visit to Angola, where you visited, who you saw and just kind of get us caught up to what we should know about this.
[Jorge] Sure, Mr. Kubik. We went to visit the brethren and the Council of Elders of the church in Angola. That’s more central, a city called Huambo. We were received, very well received. When we arrived there early at the airport, they took us, right as we arrived, straight to the hall where they have services and the very first thing they did is they sang three songs and they gave God thanks for us to be there. So, that was a very touching and very moving experience.
[Victor] Well, you know we’ve been so excited and following — and many people have — about your visiting with other Sabbath-keeping groups who are becoming very, very close to us and not only what they believe but also in friendship and brotherhood. Kathy, this is your first time to Angola. Can you tell us a little bit about your going and why you went?
[Kathy] I basically went to visit with the people in Angola and also to develop a closer relationship with what my husband is doing and with the actual Portuguese people.
[Victor] This is like the second or third time that you’ve gone there?
[Jorge] The second time.
[Victor] The second time. How did you find this to be different or more bringing us together as far as what we might do in the future?
[Jorge] Basically, what we found… we didn’t really find different. We just found more bonding because, as you build a relationship with people, we get to know each other and we start talking a little bit at a deeper personal and spiritual level than just the first time where it’s very superficial. So, the second time we get closer. We are becoming better friends or more friends personally and individually and that was very beneficial. We interacted with the Council of Elders, all the seven members but, besides that, their youth leadership and the ladies leaders and it was very fruitful from that point of view because we built a relationship and that is very important.
[Victor] What’s interesting to me is that they’re actually well established in their own country. They have church buildings. They have an organization and so forth and they actually have quite a few members as well, don’t they?
[Jorge] Correct. They’re very well established. They currently have just over 6000 members. They are in the process of getting themselves registered as a church organization in the country and that’s important to conduct business from the point of view of having a bank account and paying debts and things like that and getting certain other things that are required to do work and they are very excited about that. Because of that, they’re building a very good corporate citizen relationship — let’s call it that — with the Angolan government and particularly with the department that deals with religious affairs in Angola.
[Victor] There was an official from the government that services on the Sabbath?
[Jorge] They invited the Department of Religious Affairs in that province which is the equivalent of State in the States here in that province and that member of the government was there and during announcements, during services, the church there officially welcomed us. When I say us, I mean us representing United Church of God. They welcomed United Church of God. They thanked the Council of Elders for supporting… I mean, that’s UCG’s Council of Elders for supporting and allowing me to be there or us to be there. Then, they invited this person from the government to give a few words which it actually was a lady and she did and she welcomed, basically, United Church of God into Angola to work with them.
[Victor] What’s interesting is they have hundreds, thousands of people in their church. Why are they taking such an interest or why are they taking notice of us?
[Jorge] Basically, they and us, we believe exactly the same thing. All our fundamental beliefs are absolutely in sync. They keep the Sabbath. They keep the Holy Days. They respect clean foods. They have all the fundamental beliefs. All 20 fundamental beliefs, they adhere to them. So, why are they looking at us? Because they don’t have writers. They don’t have material, spiritual material to assist them in preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God and of the savior work of Jesus Christ. They want that and they need that and, in fact, that’s one of the things we did is we then agreed to provide for them all the material that we have freely on the condition that they also distribute it freely.
[Victor] That’s wonderful. It’s very, very interesting to hear about this symbiotic relationship where we benefit from our friendship and the brotherhood and bonding and they benefit from all the intellectual property so to speak…
[Jorge] Correct, the spiritual property.
[Victor] … that we’re able to offer them.
[Jorge] That’s what they’re looking for. That’s what they’re looking for and that’s what they want. They want to work together. They are completely open to work with us and I told them this is their organization. They’ve got a Council of Elders very similar to our organization. Their organization works well. It’s bearing good fruits. Don’t change it. Don’t change it. We are not coming there to modify them or change it. No, just to help them, to give them spiritual food so they can continue doing the work of preaching the gospel.
[Victor] This is wonderful. It could be a model for perhaps other ways we could work with other Sabbath keepers as well. Kathy, tell us a little bit about what you expected and what you actually saw. Tell us about your impressions.
[Kathy] I know I went very much with what George told me when he came back from his recent trip and I expected… everything that he’d mentioned, I actually witnessed for myself and that is that when we got there, we were just so, so welcomed. We were made to feel welcomed right away and I just noticed that they are such a humble people. They have such a willingness to want to learn and they have an apparent, very apparent love of God and they just want to work with us and they want to learn more. They’re very hungry for knowledge and they just want to do the right thing.
[Victor] Tell us a little about your interaction with them, particularly with the ladies. I understand that you even gave a presentation.
[Kathy] When we went, one of our main purposes was to teach a little bit about leadership and George worked with the men a little bit with the teaching them about how they can be leaders. So, I thought, “What better way is there to help the ladies to understand how they can become leaders too?” On the Sunday, I gave a presentation to the ladies about the leadership roles that we can take in the church and I used some of the examples of the women in the Bible. Then, we actually divided into groups and we talked about ways that we can be leaders in our church, in our community and in the home. Then, afterwards, there was a spokesperson for each group and each lady got up out of the group and she gave a presentation about the different ways that we can serve. It was just amazing, some of the different ways that they came up with to serve in those different ways.
[Victor] Kathy, tell us a little bit about some of the things that you found interesting with the ladies, what they do similarly or different from us and what types of ways do they serve that might be of interest to our audience.
[Kathy] I found that they have a deep respect for their community and for their husbands. I noticed that, basically, they serve their husbands. They serve their children. Their homes were very important. So, I found that was a very big similarity. What we didn’t see, though, was that… the husbands and the wives would sit separately. So, towards the end, they were noticing Jorge and I, that we would come in together, we would sit together, we would eat together and so, towards the end of our visit, actually, the women started doing the same thing with their husbands. The women would come in with their husbands to church and they would leave with their husbands. They would sit with their husbands at lunch. The children also had… we just noticed the children had a deep respect for their parents. They all were very well dressed at church. They love going to church. They love singing. They were very happy people and very humble.
[Victor] Tell us a little about the church service itself. How does it differ from our service, Kathy? Tell us about that.
[Kathy] We had a very long day. Actually, the church service here goes for about two hours while there it goes for much longer. They start early in the morning and we would go in and we sang. We would sing hymns for about an hour or maybe even longer. Then, we would have the main service but then… they had about four choirs so each choir came up in their turn and they sang a song and then the next choir would perform. The choirs were absolutely wonderful. They were so amazing to listen to, perfect in key and harmony and it was just a pleasure to hear. Then after services, we still had a Bible study. Services went from early in the morning until almost the end of the Sabbath so it was quite a long day.
[Jorge] I might just add that song singing was informal. As people were coming in, they would sing some songs and that was also an opportunity for them to learn the United songs which they did not have because we’ve translated those songs from the hymnal and so they are now learning our songs. They had some old songs that we also knew but the repertoire of songs was very limited so they’re learning some more songs. Services started at 10:00, spot on at 10:00. It was orderly. We did not hear a peep from the children. They were very well behaved. Everybody dressed beautifully and, remember, these are very poor people. They dressed beautifully, respecting and honoring God, showing an inner attitude reflected on the outside. Services finished… it started at 10, finished at 12:30 so it was about two and a half hours but because it was also, let’s call it, combined services being there were four or five congregations that got together like north, south, east, west, whatever. They got together and that’s why we had the four choirs because each congregation had their own choir and dressed accordingly to colors of their congregation. Then, after a meal, we had Bible study. At Bible study, they asked a specific topic which I prepared. The Bible study lasted about, say, about three and a half hours and I had to say, “Okay, now let’s take a break to walk a bit.” They didn’t even want that. They just wanted to go and by the time we finished, they were so happy. They were so excited. It was just amazing to see how people are hungering and thirsting for God’s righteousness.
[Victor] That’s truly amazing how God is working and He has different flocks around the world that we don’t understand. Perhaps it’s even more extended than we realize.
[Jorge] That’s right, yes.
[Victor] What are your plans now for the next time that you go over and when do you plan to go over and will you take Kathy with you?
[Jorge] That’s a good question. Our plans at the moment is I’ve got already commitments made for the feast in Brazil. We’ve got commitments in December for a youth camp in Brazil as well that I’ve already discussed with them and, therefore, the only other next opportunity I have to go there would be for Passover. So, my intent and desire is to go there for Passover and then in July next year to go again so like a year later to go again with Kathy and visit maybe the capital city now and take it from there. It will be a year from today and that I’ve discussed with them and they’re quite happy with it.
[Victor] Jorge, we’ll be following both of you and following what you’re doing. Kathy, you have anything to say in conclusion?
[Kathy] Yes, I’m so happy I was able to make this trip and I can’t wait to go back.
[Victor] One more thing: How were you able to cope with the language? I know that Jorge speaks Portuguese. Do you speak Portuguese?
[Kathy] I speak a little bit. I am learning slowly but surely. I’m taking a class right now in Portuguese and slowly but surely, I’m getting to understand a little bit more. I understand the gist of a conversation now which I couldn’t before. It’s just now actually expressing myself that I can’t do so well but I do understand a lot.
[Victor] That’s wonderful. It’s wonderful. We’re looking forward to many more years of your service to the Portuguese-speaking areas. Thank you for joining us today on Inside United. We appreciate your being here and telling us more about the story.
[Jorge] Thank you so much.
[Kathy] Thank you.
[Victor] Come back again soon for more.