English-Speaking West Africa
Nigeria contains about 130 members scattered throughout the three congregations of Lagos, Benin City and Owerri, as well as the Bible study group in Ibadan, served by Oludare Akinbo. As teens and young adults make up about 60 percent of the Church there, a UYC program is regularly held. Ghana contains a total membership of about 330 in the seven congregations of Accra, Winneba, Kwanyako, Agona, Obuasi, Kumasi and Yeji. Three of these congregations, making up about 80 members, were re-established as recently as February. David Messelebe (wife Betty), the regional pastor for Ghana, is assisted by pastor Benjamin Agyapong (wife Gloria) and others. Brethren run a cassava production operation in Agona as a means of income. American and other international young adults are encouraged to visit the coastal UYC in Nigeria and Ghana to meet like-minded peers from other cultures.
Jorge de Campos and Kraig Bledsoe recently traveled to Brazil before Passover to visit the Portuguese-speaking brethren and prospects. Additionally, Jorge de Campos observed the Spring Holy Day season in Angola with a number of combined congregations in two large Angolan cities. (For more details about this trip, please see the article on the front page.) The subscription list for the 32-page Portuguese version of Beyond Today magazine A Boa Nova is currently at 3,100. On average, about 4,000 new users visit UCG’s Portuguese website daily. On Easter Sunday, visitors to the website peaked at nearly 8,000 new users. The Angolan brethren are having many challenges with their government’s new religious laws and the church’s bank account is currently frozen. Legal counsel in Angola is being sought to resolve the banking issue. Due to the God-given growth of the work in this area, which leads to an increased workload in the Portuguese language, Jorge asks us to pray fervently for God to provide additional laborers to assist in this area of God’s work.
Jorge de Campos
There are 23 UCG congregations and two Bible study groups in Canada, with a total of 448 baptized members. The 543 donors and 148 coworkers provide about 25 percent of the income. At the Church’s Canadian National Office, there are two full-time employees and eight part-time employees, four of which are church pastors. The Canada National Council has a board that consists of nine members, of which Rainer Salomaa is the chairman. Beyond Today has aired in Canada for almost 13 years with nearly 60,000 responses. About one-third to one-quarter of the responses each airing are brand new! Canada has almost 17,500 Beyond Today magazine subscribers, 1,400 Pour L’Avenir (French Beyond Today magazine) subscribers, and 389 enrolled in the Bible study course, with a total of 91,000 names in the literature database. Currently, United News Canada is sent to 472 people four times a year.
There are about 200 members in the British Isles, with about 100 coworkers and 80 donors. Of the eight congregations, six are able to meet weekly for Sabbath services. Over 5,000 copies of Beyond Today magazine are distributed per issue, including a supplement with eight pages of local content. This year’s plan is to improve the ucg.org.uk website by making technical adjustments and incorporating more local content, both written material and recorded sermons. The needs of the British Isles include encouraging members to contribute articles for the supplement and the website. There is also a need to develop and mentor future leaders who have potential for the ministry, congregational leadership, national council and youth activities.
There are an estimated 400-500 French-speaking members of the United Church of God spread across 12 countries. Currently, in the area administered directly from France, there are 17 congregations in seven countries with three pastors serving these members. In addition, there are congregations in Canada, Haiti, Burundi and Rwanda overseen by Canada, the Caribbean region and the East African region. This year, we will be holding another annual three-day leadership training conference in Cote d’Ivoire to help mentor future leaders. With the goal to seed leaders for the future, volunteers through UYC and the Good Works program will be sent to a French-speaking camp this summer. Volunteers with an interest in serving in Africa will be sent to Bordeaux to participate in an intensive language learning program while living with a host family. We are currently printing Pour L’Avenir with six issues per year and sending 5,000 copies per issue to 40 countries. We have translated 20 booklets, 12 correspondence course lessons, and written eight new booklets in the last seven years. The eight-page French version of United News is Trait D’Union. The goal to establish regular virtual Sabbath services via video conference has been met with 55 people regularly tuning in on 10 connections. Weekly attendance in congregations is up 33 percent over the past three years.