Our friend David Childs has been involved in mission in Angola for around 15 years. We interviewed him about how he has been using Christianity Explored over there.
Hi David! First can you tell us a little bit about you?
I’m David; I live in the town of Strathaven, Scotland, where I pastor Strathaven Evangelical Church. Our congregation is made up of around 130 people, mainly families. We’ve been here for about nine years.
Before that I lived and worked as a pastor in Southampton.
David with his wife Diane
What’s Strathaven like?
It’s a relatively small town of around 9,000 people. It is not at all international, although a Congolese family have recently started attending our church.
It’s a middle class town but we still have the same problems with crime that a city would have, just on a smaller scale.
As we’re close to places like Glasgow and Edinburgh, quite a few people who live here commute to the cities for work. We also have lots of teachers, health workers, and government workers.
And how did you come to get involved with Angola from 5,000 miles away?!
I’ve always been interested in mission. My parents were missionaries in South America before I was born, and then I went to Africa as a short-termer before training at Bible College and I developed a real heart for the ministry there.
I went to Africa as a short-termer and I developed a real heart for the ministry there
When I worked in Southampton, a lady from my church who had been a missionary in Angola for about 40 years (she is now 92!), asked me to get involved in helping to train leaders there.
Modular training course in Kuito in 2014
We don’t hear about Angola much in the news, can you tell me about the country?
Interesting observation! I actually think it’s remarkable that we don’t hear about Angola much in the news over here these days. In 2017 José Eduardo dos Santos, who had been President for about 38 years, handed over the presidency to João Lourenço. It was very peaceful, to the great credit of the country. It’s not often that you hear about changes of power in Africa without disruption and trouble.
However, this comes in the aftermath of a Civil War in which lots of people were brutally killed. You really notice that there are lots and lots of young people in Angola – and this is because so many of the older generations were killed.
It is a country of many extremes! There is incredible wealth due to the oil industry but there is also real poverty
There are also a lot of landmines here because of the war. It was something Princess Diana was involved in combatting and Prince Harry recently said he would like to pick up where she left off, which is positive news for Angola.
Other than that, it is a country of many extremes! There is incredible wealth due to the oil and diamond industries. At one time the capital Luanda was the most expensive place in the world. But there is also real poverty.
What opportunities are there for the gospel in Angola?
There is reasonable freedom of religion and there are plenty of strong evangelical churches.
Also, people are generally warm towards Christianity and very eager to hear the Bible taught and learn. It isn’t hard to get 100 people from very different religious backgrounds to attend a day conference for Bible teaching.
There is also a real hunger from young people for good teaching. The younger generation is growing up asking questions and this is creating robust Christians.
Christianity Explored training in Luanda in 2019
What are the challenges?
Many people have the latest technology – most homes will have flat screen TVs and everyone will have mobile phones, even if they have no running water or sanitation.
Access to the Internet is a real temptation for young men and women, so do pray for their purity.
A lot of health, wealth and prosperity preaching has also made its way into the country through this access to technology as people can watch Brazilian (where the national language is also Portuguese) and South African channels with this kind of harmful teaching.
Just recently I spoke with a young girl who had come to our Bible training programme for two weeks. I asked her why she would give up school to do this, and she said it was for the glory of God. She had seen the prosperity gospel tear her own family apart when her Dad left them to search for diamonds as he thought wealth was so important.
A lot of health, wealth and prosperity preaching has made its way into the country
Even some of the graduates from our own training course are lured by false teachers with promises of a big church with lots of people, lots of money and cars etc.
What they really need in Angola is strong, trained Christian leaders.
This is really hard because there aren’t many people who have the resources or training to be able to teach. And most pastors in Angola will also have full time secular jobs, like teaching or government work, and they use their weekends to train and minister, so as their churches grow they struggle to be able to disciple people effectively.
A further challenge is that it is very expensive to get any Christian resources into Angola. Angola relies heavily on imported goods, making Luanda shipping harbour a very busy port.
If we ship materials in commercially the government will put a big levy on it and they will be unaffordable so we have to take things in to give away rather than to sell. This all costs money, so I do quite a lot of fundraising.
Christianity Explored training in Kuito in 2014
What kind of training is available in Angola?
There’s a really good Bible College in Angola, ISTEL in Lubango.
As well as this, I have helped to establish a modular Bible course there. It’s a mobile course that means training can be taken to local churches.
I helped to set it up and provide initial training and resources, and now it’s totally run by Angolans.
That’s where Christianity Explored comes in.
I love the course personally because I constantly need reminding of how amazing the gospel is. But it also does everything that I would want to do in a modular Bible course. It gives people the tools to understand the gospel clearly for themselves from Scripture. And this can be applied to how they read other books of the Bible too, not just Mark.
How is CE being used there at the moment?
As soon as the Portuguese translation was available I took copies out and started incorporating it into our training. I love seeing people getting excited as they go through the Leader’s Guide and Mark’s Gospel as they see for themselves what Scripture is saying.
We also give our graduates CE packs so they can go back to their villages with them.
A new church has even been planted in a village called Malanje using the CE materials.
I love seeing people getting excited as they go through the Leader’s Guide and Mark’s Gospel as they see for themselves what Scripture is saying
Separately, I ran a CE conference in a different part of Angola and a large church started using it in their small groups.
As I mentioned, discipleship is also a real issue. Many people don’t recognise the need to make disciples (of course this problem isn’t unique to Angola!).
We are currently working on getting some Portuguese copies of Discipleship Explored out there. When I told one pastor that we were planning to do this, I could almost hear him jumping for joy over the phone! It will be a real help to churches.
Students holding the last Angolan copies of Christianity Explored in Luanda, 2019
How can we pray for this work in Angola?
Do pray through that list of challenges! Pray that God would overcome those difficulties and provide trained workers to take advantage of the many opportunities for the gospel in Angola.
Pray for all those with the Christianity Explored materials, particularly people leading it. Pray it will be a real blessing to Angola and that God will use it so that more and more people will be equipped to understand and share God’s word.
Pray that God would provide trained workers to take advantage of the many opportunities for the gospel in Angola
Pray that we will be able to raise funds to get more resources into Angola. We are down to some of the last CE guides now – in the picture above the students are holding our last copies! Do pray we can get Discipleship Explored into Angola too.
I also have links with nearby Mozambique, and would be keen to get CE running there too. Pray for opportunities to develop ministry links there.
If you would like to find out more about David’s ministry in Angola please email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org