25 Year Wait To Be Baptized: UKAKACHIRA!
Posted May 11, 2014
by Victor Kubik
This is an amazing story about people in remote Zambia who heard the Word of God, accepted it and persevered (ukakachira) through decades.
Horasi with Fundamentals of Belief in Portuguese. Wheelchair provided by LifeNets
Bev and I met with some of these people from April 25-28, 2014 in Mufumbwe, Zambia, a place we never thought we’d get to. I was privileged to get their story which I would like to share with you.
It all started in 1981 when Emanuel Horasi Siyono (who goes by “Horasi”), a mechanic, was injured in an accident where he lost his little finger. He went to the hospital and had to stay overnight. While there, he met a man who was reading the Plain Truth magazine and various booklets.
Horasi is now 74 years old and bound to a wheelchair.
Horasi became interested in what he read and became a subscriber himself. In 1982 he wrote and asked to be visited and did meet with Mr. Bentley of WCG (Worldwide Church of God) at the Ridgeway Hotel in Lusaka in 1986. He was baptized some time later.
He passed his knowledge on to others which included Joseph Kaputula and brothers Christopher, Samuel and Simeon Ndungyuyonga. Joseph runs an orphanage called Chilemo Orphans Club. On the Sabbath this group studied the Bible and reviewed the printed material from the Church.” Horasi is considered “father” of this group in Mufumbwe. He speaks Portuguese as this part of Zambia is close to Portuguese-speaking Angola.
The group subscribed to and read the Plain Truth magazine as well as booklets. In 1993, however, literature abruptly stopped coming, but they kept meeting weekly. By now Horasi had moved a short distance away from the other four: Joseph, Christopher, Samuel and Simeon and their families.
Joseph and wife Agnes
In 2004 Horasi wrote again to the United States and other addresses he had for WCG for information about the Church. He received a publication called The Scroll. But, upon receiving it, he noted that the doctrines were markedly different and they knew and they did not want to pursue contact. They did see the following names in the publication: Kalengule Kaoma and Wilson Nkhoma in Lusaka. They did have a Holy Day Calendar and kept the days faithfully but, the calendar ran out in 2008. For the most part, they all lost contact with the Church from 1993 to 2009.
Then in early 2009 Joseph Kaputula set out to personally to make contact with the Church. He was a construction supervisor and after a job finished, he decided to go to Lusaka with only 150 Kwacha ($25) in hand to find Wilson Nkhoma, the only phone number contact he had. That was 500 miles away. This was February 2009. He had a free ride to Lusaka, but had to give $8 to the driver “for drinks.”
He arrived at the Lusaka central bus station and tried calling Wilson Nkhoma again and again, but to no avail. He sat on a bench and was a reading a booklet about salvation. A man was sitting next to Joseph and the two started talking. In the course of conversation Joseph excused himself to use the bathroom and asked the man to watch his things.
Joseph and Orphans
The man took an interest in the booklet about salvation which was an older WCG booklet. It looked familiar. The man was United Church of God deacon, Jonathan Litaba from the Mufulira area about 220 miles to the North. When Joseph came back, Jonathan asked him why he had it and where did he get it. This led to a discussion about the current state of things in the Church in early 2009.
Joseph asked about Wilson Nkhoma who, of course, Jonathan knew well. Jonathan told him all about the United Church of God and that Wilson Nkhoma was now in the United Church of God (UCG) (Incidentally, I wrote a blog about our first contact with Wilson Nkhoma at http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/victorkubik/africa-2006/1160667720/tpod.html. Joseph told him all about the orphanage that he was operating in Mufumbwe.
Joseph was now asking how to get a hold of Wilson Nkhoma. Jonathan told him to come to church services in Lusaka three days hence. Certainly there Joseph would be in contact with all the people he needed to fulfil his mission of finding the church that Joseph knew was there “somewhere.”
Joseph then went to some Rwandan refugees living in Lusaka, who he had helped in the past, for a place to stay.
On the Sabbath Joseph went to the Arakan Army Barracks where he was told services would be held.. It was in a military location arranged for by an officer retired from the army. Joseph came into the barracks area, but was immediately arrested by a guard who asked him who he was and what he was doing there. Joseph told him that he was looking for the United Church of God services and Wilson Nkhoma. The guard said he knew nothing of this meeting. Joseph explained that he was from out of town. The guard excused him and ushered him out of the barracks. Joseph never went to the 3 pm church service.
Deacon Christopher Ndungyuyonga
Now, Jonathan got the information to Wilson Nkhoma and Wilson called Joseph that night. They arranged to meet at Wilson’s house in Lusaka the next day.
They met and discussed a lot about the Church in Zambia and elsewhere. Wilson gave Joseph lots of magazines, booklets and some money.
Afterwards, Joseph’s friends helped him get on his way back to faraway Mufumbwe by giving him money for the trip, school books for Joseph’s children and clothes for Joseph’s wife Agnes. Lots of “Katundu” (stuff).
Joseph returned to Mufumbwe. He was met by his friends, sister and nephews who were overjoyed by the success of Joseph’s mission. Joseph said the joy was tantamount to Zambia scoring a goal in the Africa Cup where the entire nation rose in cheers! That’s how happy they were to find out that “the church was still there.”
In Mufumbwe the group continued to meet weekly on the Sabbath as they always had since 1985, but now they were connected to the United Church of God.
In early 2010 the next minister they made contact with was Kambani Banda who met them in Solwezi about 130 miles east of Mufumbwe. He told them to come to the Feast of Tabernacles in Lusaka that autumn. Christopher and Samuel came and Beverly and I met them there at the Feast of Tabernacles in Lusaka on September 29, 2010. I have some photos of them on my TravelPod at http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/victorkubik/10/1289923845/tpod.html . Bev and I heard some of their story for the first time.
Joseph, Christopher and Samuel shortly after I baptized them April 24, 2011 in Lusaka
Christopher, Samuel and Joseph had not been baptized. They were waiting to be baptized since 1985, but there was no minister available. They were led to believe that they would be baptized at the Feast of Tabernacles in Lusaka, but for some unexplained reason it didn’t happen. I was involved in baptizing a few women on the Last Great Day, but was not in the loop of information about the church since I was the guest speaker. They were surprised that they were not baptized knowing how far they had travelled and how long they had waited. They were only told to “write the history of their experiences.”
In the early part of 2011 they once again tried to make contact and called Wilson Nkhoma. Mr. Nkhoma was now the pastor of the United Church of God. Wilson told them all to wait and that I would be coming to Zambia in April and that I would baptize them.
That happened on April 24, 2011. My wife Beverly asked them after they were baptized: "How long did it take." "Twenty-five years" they answered calmly. They had waited more than 25 years to be baptized! It was a great honor for me to baptize Joseph, Christopher and Samuel at the swimming pool at the Ndeke Hotel in Lusaka.
We were astounded and inspired by their story. In our beautiful recounting the events on this 2014 trip Sunday, April 27th, the word that we used to describe the experience was UKAKACHIRA, which in the Kikaunde language means “Perseverance!” It was perseverance and tenacity for sure. Beverly commented to them how God takes care of His people and doesn’t forget them…even though it may seem like a long time.
Derrick Pringle is now their pastor though he lives 300 miles away. He and his wife Cherry have been the right people for this. They have the capability to drive the difficult road and have a special love for these people.
Thought you might like to hear this story......
Also.....LifeNets is very actively supporting Joseph's orphanage....see more here!
Sign to the orphage in Mufumbwe. In photo from left: Vic, Joseph, Christopher and Samuel
Tomatos grown for the orphans