“Fervent prayer” helps to break down barriers where no other method was working.
A dream and fervent prayer recently opened doors for the Seventh-day Adventist Church to reach an unentered neighborhood in southern Angola.
For years, Seventh-day Adventists had tried to reach the Projecto neighborhood near Huambo, in the southern region of Angola. The city of Huambo (pop. 700,000) has a solid Adventist presence, including the headquarters of the Southwestern Union Mission church region. But even as the Projecto neighborhood population grew exponentially in a short time, Adventists seemed to fail at every attempt to plant a church.
The reason, they came to discover, was the intransigence of the main member of the traditional authorities, the so-called “soba.” The local soba had stated in unambiguous terms that “Adventists were not welcome” in the neighborhood. When Adventist members tried to find out the reason for such rejection, they were told it was likely due to the aftereffects of a now extinct Christian sect called “Seventh-day Light of the World,” founded by José Julino Kalupeteka.
In 2015, the Angola government moved to bring the Kalupetekists, as the founder’s followers were called, to account, after some of them attacked police officers in the outskirts of Cáala. After the sect leader and some of his prominent followers were judged and sent to prison, the sect disbanded. Kalupetekists, who followed some of the Adventist doctrines, made locals wary of anything related to the “seventh-day.”
Even after so many failures, however, church members of the Essaque Seventh-day Adventist Church, in the nearby community of Chicala Choloanga, decided they would try a different approach—they would focus on fervent prayer, asking God to break down barriers. “We will spend considerable time praying for the Projecto neighborhood,” they agreed. “We will take our case directly to the hands of the Lord. And then we will pay the soba one more visit.”
Church members prayed fervently for days, and then chose a group of church delegates to meet the soba. When they arrived to the Projecto neighborhood and talked to the soba, they couldn’t believe their ears. “The soba was not only ready to welcome our presence,” they shared afterward. “He also offered us a piece of land for us to plant a church!”
While they were still wondering about the reason for the soba’s change of heart, the soba told the Adventist delegation about a dream he had had a few days before, shared local pastor Lazaro Capessa, who was part of the group. According to Capessa, the soba said, “In my dream, I saw a stick glittering over me, but I could not see the hand that held it. And when I looked up, I fell on the ground without strength.” The soba felt God was sending him a message. “So, as soon as I saw you arrive here, I decided I would not resist the will of God,” he said.
When praying church members back in the Essaque church heard Capessa’s account, they praised God wholeheartedly. At the same time, they asked the soba to come and tell the story to the faithful of the new congregation, whose opening took place on November 18, 2017.
“On that day, neatly dressed in a white shirt, the soba shared his testimony,” they said.