Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16
The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant. Psalm 25:14
Vol. 12, No. 12 Straight and Narrow December 2003
Life by the Faith of Christ
By E. J. Waggoner (Based on Galatians Chapter 2)
When Peter was at the conference in Jerusalem, he told the facts about the receiving of the Gospel by the Gentiles, through his preaching, saying, “God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as He did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” (Acts 15:8, 9) God put no difference between Jews and Gentiles in the matter of the purification of the heart, because, knowing the hearts, He knew that “there is no difference; for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” so that there is no other way than for all to be “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:22-24) Yet, after having been shown this fact by the Lord; after having preached to the Gentiles, and after having witnessed the gift of the Holy Ghost to them, the same as to Jewish believers; after having eaten with those Gentile converts, and faithfully defending his course; after having given a clear testimony in conference, that God made no difference between Jews and Gentiles; and even immediately after himself making no difference, Peter suddenly, as soon as some came who he thought would not approve of such freedom, began to make a difference. “He withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.” This was, as Paul says, dissimulation, and was not only wrong in itself, but was calculated to confuse and mislead the disciples. The fact that this was dissimulation, which was apparent, only emphasizes the fact that there was no real difference among the brethren. It was fear, not faith, that for the moment controlled Peter.
Contrary to the Truth of the Gospel
A wave of fear seems to have passed over the Jewish believers, for “the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.” This in itself was, of course, not walking “uprightly, according to the truth of the Gospel;” but the mere fact of dissembling was not the whole of the offense against the truth of the Gospel. Under the circumstances it was a public denial of Christ, just as much as that of which Peter had once before, through sudden fear, been guilty. We have all been too often guilty of the same sin to permit us to sit in judgment; we can only note the fact and the natural consequence, as a warning to ourselves.
See how the action of Peter and the others was a virtual, although unintentional, denial of Christ. There had just been a great controversy over the question of circumcision. It was a question of justification and salvation,—whether men were saved by faith alone in Christ, or by outward forms. Clear testimony had been borne that salvation is by faith alone: and now, while the controversy is still alive, while the “false brethren” are still propagating their errors, these loyal brethren suddenly discriminated against the Gentile believers, because they were uncircumcised, in effect saying to them, Except ye be circumcised, ye can not be saved. Their actions said, We also are in doubt about the power of faith in Christ alone to save men; we really believe that salvation depends on circumcision and the works of the law; faith in Christ is well, but there’s something more to do; it is not in itself sufficient. Such a denial of the truth of the Gospel Paul could not endure, and he at once struck directly at the root of the matter.
“Sinners of the Gentiles,” and Sinners of the Jews
Paul said to Peter, “We . . . are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles.” Did he mean that they, being Jews, were, therefore, not sinners?—By no means, for he immediately adds that they had believed on Jesus Christ for justification. They were sinners of the Jews, and not sinners of the Gentiles; but whatever things they had to boast of as Jews, all had to be counted loss for the sake of Christ. Nothing availed them anything except faith in Christ; and since this was so, it was evident that the Gentile sinners could be saved directly by faith in Christ, without going through the dead forms which had been of no service to the Jews, and which were given largely as the result of their unbelief.
“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” (1Timothy 1:15) “All have sinned,” and stand alike guilty before God; but all, of whatever race or class, can accept this saying, “This Man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” A circumcised sinner is no better than an uncircumcised one; a sinner who stands as a church-member, is no better than one who is outside. The sinner who has gone through the form of baptism is not better than the sinner who has never made any profession of religion. Sin is sin, and sinners are sinners, whether in the church or out; but, thank God, Christ is the propitiation for our sins, as well as for the sins of the whole world. There is hope for the unfaithful professor of religion, as well as for the sinner who has never named the name of Christ. The same Gospel that is preached to the world, must be preached to the church; for there is only one Gospel. It serves to convert sinners in the world, as well as sinners who stand as church-members, and at the same time it renews those who are really in Christ.
“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law,” “we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified,” said the apostle. The meaning of the word “justified” is “made righteous.” This is the exact term that appears in other languages, which are not composed of foreign terms. The Latin word for righteousness is justitia. To be just is to be righteous. Then we add the termination fy, from the Latin word, meaning “to make,” and we have the exact equivalent of the simpler term, “make righteous.” In an accommodated sense we use the term “justified” of a man who has not done wrong in a thing whereof he is accused. But, strictly speaking, such an one needs no justification, since he is already just; his righteous deed justified him. He was justified in his deed. But since all have sinned, there are none just or righteous before God; therefore they need to be justified, or made righteous, which God does. Now the law of God is righteousness. See Romans 7:12; 9:30, 31; Psalm 119:172. Therefore Paul did not disparage the law, although he declared that no man could be made righteous by the law, meaning, of course, the law written on stones or in a book. No; so highly did he appreciate the law, that he believed in Christ for the righteousness which the law demands but can not give. “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:3,4) The law, which declares all men to be sinners, could not justify them except by declaring that sin is not sin; and that would not be justification, but a self-contradiction in the law.
The Law Can Not Justify
“By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Shall we say, Then we will do away with the law? That is what every confirmed criminal thinks. Persistent law-breakers would gladly do away with the law which declares them guilty and will not say that wrong is right. But the law of God can not be abolished, for it is the statement of the will of God. (Romans 2:18) In very fact it is the life and character of God. “The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” (Romans 7:12) We read the written law, and find in it our duty made plain. But we have not done it; therefore we are guilty. “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” “There is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:23, 12) Moreover, there is not one who has strength to do the law, its requirements are so great. Then it is very evident that no one can be justified by the works of the law, and it is equally evident that the fault is not in the law, but in the individual. Let the man get Christ in the heart by faith, and then the righteousness of the law will be there also, for Christ says, “I delight to do Thy will, O My God; yea, Thy law is within My heart.” (Psalm 40:8) He who would throw away the law because it will not call evil good, would reject God because He “will by no means clear the guilty.” (Exodus 34:7) But God will remove the guilt, will make the sinners righteous, that is, in harmony with the law, and then the law which before condemned them will witness to their righteousness.
“The Faith of Christ”
Much is lost, in reading the Scriptures, by not noting exactly what they say. Here we have literally, “the faith of Christ,” just as in Revelation 14:12 we have “the faith of Jesus.” He is the Author and Finisher of faith. (Hebrews 12:2) God has “dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3), in giving Christ to every man. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17), and Christ is the Word. All things are of God. It is He who gives repentance and forgiveness of sins.
There is, therefore, no opportunity for any one to plead that his faith is weak. He may not have accepted and made use of the gift, but there is no such thing as “weak faith.” A man may be “weak in faith,” that is, may be afraid to depend on faith, but faith itself is as strong as the Word of God. There is no faith but the faith of Christ; everything else professing to be faith is a spurious article. Christ alone is righteous; He has overcome the world, and He alone has power to do it; in Him dwelleth all the fullness of God, because the law—God Himself—was in His heart; He alone has kept and can keep the law to perfection; therefore, only by His faith,—living faith, that is, His life in us,—can we be made righteous.
But this is sufficient. He is a “tried Stone.” The faith which He gives to us is His own tried and approved faith, and it will not fail us in any contest. We are not exhorted to try to do as well as He did, or to try to exercise as much faith as He had, but simply to take His faith, and let it work by love, and purify the heart. It will do it; take it!
(The preceding study was printed from the original edition of the book, The Glad Tidings, pp 74-80 Editor)
A Special Letter
(The following letter was written as a response to last month’s article on Righteousness. It echos the thoughts of many others. Editor
I enjoyed your recent article in Old Paths. I have been battling this subject for a long time. It has become a sore spot for me. There are some who put so much emphasis on overcoming that my walk with God became a drudge and depressing. I would go to church and worry that my dress was not long enough or was not made out of correct materials. I would worry that my potluck dish would offend someone. I would worry that my praise story would not be good enough. I told a testimony one day about my struggle with a certain food item and how the Lord helped me. I saw one person shaking his head and mumbling how we must be more earnest.
The constant badgering by another person about every little detail of my life made me want to walk away from the Godhead movement. But I realized a year ago that our relationship with God is a love affair and nobody has a right to tell me how to grow in that relationship. God accepts me as I am, and I in turn accept others as they are and just love them. This brings about loving service because it comes from the heart. I loved the article and you put it so beautifully. Thank you. Internet
Progress In Poland
By Allen Stump
(Most of the information in this report has been supplied by Slawomir Platek. He also supplied all the pictures except for his portrait. Editor)
Poland is a land of rich heritage steeped in national tradition and Roman Catholicism. Here 38 million, out of 40 million people profess the Catholic faith. Like their famous son, Pope John Paul II, the country is steeped in Mary worship. In this spiritually dark country the Lord is raising an army of workers who are dedicated to sharing the truth about God’s great love in giving His only begotten Son to die for our sins.
Pastor Jacek Poreda has been leading out in the work in Poland. Beside organizing camp meetings and holding Sabbath services, He has translated many of Ellen White’s books into the Polish language. He has also translated several books, booklets, and tracts on the truth about God as well. However, his resources untilrecently have only allowed him to reproduce materials in limited quantities. He, along with Brothers Piotr (Peter) Maciejewski, and Slawomir Platek, Rafal Lewadowski have begun in earnest, a publishing work that shows signs of great promise. The great need they had was an economical way to reproduce materials. While visiting at the camp meeting in Niedzica Zamek, Poland this last summer, Jacek had shared with me the idea of getting a large photocopy machine to reproduce materials. It was realized that this would not be the most long-term ,cost-ffective manner, but, in the short term, it seemed much cheaper and easier than trying to get a printing press and all the things necessary for the use of such a machine.
The idea of getting a Risograph type machine was discussed. A Risograph is a duplicating machine that is sometimes described as a cross between a copy machine and a printing press. A Risograph electronically scans the document to be reproduced and produces an image on a master that is perforated with the image. This master is then wrapped around an ink drum that has a very fine screen that allows ink to be pressed through the perforated master. The paper is run through the machine and is pressed between the master on the ink drum and an impression roller. Most Risographs are capable of producing up to 120 copies a minute and are very easy to run. While not as economical in every case as a printing press, Risographs have come to fill an important place in the printing industry. In fact, this is the type of duplicating machine that the brethren in Africa and Romania are currently using.
Some of the Polish Brethren
Piotr, Erwin, Jacek, and Vlad
While Brother David Clayton and I were in Europe this last summer we also discussed with Brother Erwin Zoor of Germany the need to establish a printing work in Germany. Erwin has translated several materials and was using a copy machine for reproduction. We discussed with him the concept of getting a Risograph type of machine. After coming back to the United States, I was contacted by Brother Zoor who told me that he was looking on the German edition of the Internet auction store, E-Bay, and had found a very good Risograph for a reasonable price. Making the proper bid at literally the last minute, Brother Zoor was able to secure the machine. After sharing the news of this acquisition with some of the brethren in Germany, it was thought that a newer and even more modern machine might serve the German field better. Funds were provided for a new machine and it was purchased.
Later Erwin called me asking counsel about what to do with the first machine. I suggested that the brethren in Poland could put it to very good use. Since all credit belongs to the Father for being able to acquire the first machine, it was felt by Erwin that since he had freely received, he should freely give. Therefore arrangements were made for Brothers Jacek and Slawomir to go to Germany to get the donated Risograph.
Brother Jacek’s car is a very small Fiat that a six foot plus person, such as myself, can hardly set in. Putting the duplication machine in it would be impossible. It was thought that a car could be rented, but this did not work out. Graciously, Brother Erwin Zoor agreed to take the Risograph to Poland in his station wagon. Brother Vlad Ardeias from Romania accompanied Brother Zoor on the trip to Poland to help with the loading and to visit the brethren there. The stop at the German-Poland border should be noted. Normally each car is examined and any materials, such as they were carrying, would be examined and charged a duty tax by the custom officials. All the cars before them had been carefully looked at. A blanket covered the Risograph, but it was very plainly visible that something big was being transported. However, when Erwin’s turn came, he was quickly sent through! This was amazing on two accounts. First, no duty was required on the Risograph. Second, Erwin forgot to bring all of his car documents normally required and they were allowed to pass without them being requested!
Erwin and Vlad arrived at Brother Maciejewski’s house tired and in need of rest. After a short nap, the Risograph was set up and instruction was given on its operation. After some singing by Piotr and his daughters and a nice lunch, it was time for Erwin and Vlad to leave. The brethren in Poland really appreciate these two brothers taking the time to bring the Risograph and giving them the instruction on its use.
The garage at Brother Piotr’s house is currently being made into a printing room. Brothers Piotr, Slawomir, Andrzej (Andrew) and Rafal are working on the renovation. Poland is a very cold place in the winter. To be warm and efficient, the garage is getting quite a facelift. It will be heated by hot water being piped into a radiator coming from the heating system for the house that can use either wood or coal. At the time of this writing, the printing room is almost ready.
The outside of the garage
Rafal beginning the
Brother Slawomir, who lives about 186 miles from Piotr’s house, wrote about his travel to be available to help with the ministry.
“When we will be printing I will go to Piotr’s house, about 300 km away, to help. To travel there I hitch hike. I always have a good time even though sometimes I have to wait a long time for a ride. The last time I put on four pairs of socks because it was very cold. But it is a good time when I can travel with somebody and I always want to give the driver some literature, usually Steps to Christ in Polish that Jacek has translated and had printed. Also, hitch hiking is a good kind of transportation because you don’t have to spend much money!”
Rafal installing a door frame
Getting the print room ready
Some books are already prepared for printing and a monthly newsletter is planned as well. The newsletter’s title will be, Prawda na czas obecny (Present Truth). Jacek Poreda will write the first issue whose main article will be, “Ten Najcenniejszy Dar” (The Most Precious Gift), which is a study on the love of God. Topics for future issues of the newsletter are currently being laid out. The first issue will be followed by topics such as, “The Grace of God,” “The Mercy of God,” and other gospel based subjects. Plans are to also have a monthly health corner and other features. Every one who would like to write an article for the newsletter is invited. The brethren currently have a contact base of about 200 addresses. Brother Slawomir is also currently working on translating the Bible study guides, “Christ Our Righteousness.”
Piotr working on his laptop
The brethren are also working on electronic publishing. They have established a Website with the address, www.obecnaprawda.prv.pl. Brother Slawomir is heading up this phase of the work. He, with the other brethren want to invite all the Polish-speaking brothers and sisters to visit the site, but especially later, as it is currently under construction and they only have a limited supply of materials on it now. Something notable already on the Website is a link to songs from the 2003 Camp Meeting held at Niedzica Zamek. These songs are in MP3 format and ready for downloading. After having heard these songs at the camp meeting, mostly from Piotr’s daughters, I can say that they are beautiful and could be appreciated by even those who do not understand the Polish language.
Plans are being made to put electronic versions of the newsletter, books, and even personal testimonial experiences that can help build the faith of others on the Website. Location information for meetings being conducted in Poland will also be available on the Website. Currently there are three different places in Poland (northern, central, and southern areas) where the brethren are holding regular meetings. Just a few days ago somebody called and said that they had seen the contact information on the Website and stated that they, with their sister, wanted to come for Sabbath.
If you are Polish; or have some Polish friends to whom you would like to send some materials in Polish; such as the monthly Prawda na czas obecny (Present Truth), please feel free to contact the brethren in Poland. Email is the fastest and easiest for those who have Internet email@example.com
Jacek Poreda: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Piotr (Peter) Maciejewski (Editor: Prawda na czas obecny): email@example.com.
Slawomir Platek (Webmaster and assistant): firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also write the brethren by postal mail. The addresses are:
Po Box 70, POLAND
Zbrachlin Stary 16, POLAND
You may call Jacek from the USA by dialing: 011-48-32-3266588 (home number) or 011-48-507617075 (cell phone)
The brethren in Poland are very thankful for the Lord’s goodness and those whom the Lord has impressed to help with the work in Poland and making this gospel dream to become a reality!
“Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”
The formation of character is the work of a lifetime, and it is for eternity. If all could realize this, if they would awake to the thought that we are individually deciding our own destiny for eternal life or eternal ruin, what a change would take place! How differently would this probationary time be occupied and what different characters would fill our world!
In character-building it is of the greatest importance that we dig deep, removing all the rubbish, and building on the immovable, solid Rock, Christ Jesus. The foundation firmly laid, we need wisdom to know how to build. When Moses was about to erect the sanctuary in the wilderness, he was cautioned, “See . . . that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.” In his law God has given us a pattern, and it is after this pattern that we are to build. The law is the great standard of righteousness. It represents the character of God, and is the test of our loyalty to his government.
Thoroughness is necessary to success in character-building. There must be an earnest desire to carry out the plans of the Master-builder. The timbers used must be solid; no careless, unreliable work can be accepted; it would ruin the building.
The whole being is to be put into this work. It demands strength and energy; there is no reserve to be wasted in unimportant matters. There must be determined human force put into the work, in co-operation with the divine Worker. There must be earnest, persevering effort to break away from the customs and maxims and associations of the world. Deep thought, earnest purpose, steadfast integrity, are essential.
There must be no idleness. Life is a sacred trust; and every moment should be wisely improved. Its results will be seen in eternity. God requires each one to do all the good possible. We are to make the most of the talents he has intrusted to our keeping. He has placed them in our hands to be used to his name’s glory and in the interests of our fellow men.
The Lord has a precious reward in this life for those who keep his law. He says, “My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee; bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: so shalt thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.”
But a better than earthly reward awaits those who, basing their work on the solid rock, have built up symmetrical characters, in accordance with the living word. For them is prepared “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Its streets are paved with gold. It is in the paradise of God, watered by the river of life, which proceeds from the throne. “In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
Remember that you are building for eternity. See that your foundation is sure; then build firmly, and with persistent effort, but in gentleness, meekness, and love. So shall your house stand unshaken, not only when the storms of temptation come, but when the overwhelming flood of God’s wrath shall sweep over the world. Then every house built upon the sand shall fall, and great shall be the fall of it; for the ruin is for eternity. (Ellen G. White, Youth’s Instructor, February 19, 1903)
of Truth in Africa
By David Clayton with Howard Williams
The following is an edited report on the work in Africa first published in the November 2003 issue of Open Face published by Restoration Ministries in Jamaica. Sorry that space is too limited to include many photos. Editor.
We arrived in Johannesburg on Thursday, Sept. 18, after a wearying night flight of 10 hours. After the swiftest passage through customs and immigration that we had ever experienced, Brothers Charles Ndlela and Mdutshwa Zikhali were standing in a crowd of people, who were all holding placards with names on them, greeted us. They recognized us long before we even saw them and started waving and beckoning to us. After greetings and introductions we got into the car, which they had borrowed for the occasion, and headed for the place where we would be staying.
Viewed from the air, the city of Johannesburg gave the impression of a town built in the desert because everything was brown. There was scarcely any greenery anywhere, as though there had been a long drought. It was cold (at least for a Jamaican).
After about twenty-five minutes we arrived at an area called Belleview where a room had been rented for us to stay. Here we met some other brothers who had come to meet us. After a little discussion we had a chance to get a much-needed bath and some rest after traveling for two days. Afterwards we prepared for the first evening meeting that was to be held in a rented hall. At this first meeting there were about 20 people and I spoke on the subject of “The God of the Bible.”
Interest in the truth about God began in Johannesburg with Brother Onward Makeche. Sister Fathima Ngwenya from Zimbabwe had introduced him to the message. He saw the truthfulness of the message and began to cautiously introduce it to his friends in the local Seventh-day Adventist Church. By the time we arrived in Johannesburg there were perhaps 150 persons in that church who acknowledged the truth of the message, while there was a group of about thirty young people who were very aggressively working to spread it, and who were in imminent danger of being disfellowshipped from the church.
We found these brethren in South Africa to be humble and sincere. Everyday Brothers Onward, Mdu, Mphathisi and sometimes Brother Charles or Sisters Shilette and Admire, would come and prepare meals for us, then they would stay for hours asking us questions and seeking to learn more. They sought only for the truth and never asked us for anything else, being more anxious to give us whatever little they had, although they are very poor. None own a vehicle or their own home. Most of those who have accepted the message are people who came from Zimbabwe, but who have a hard time getting jobs because their papers are not yet finalized. They are living with friends or family. There are also some native South Africans among those who have embraced the message.
At the study on the second evening we had a few more visitors who were curious about these meetings, including an elder from the local S.D.A church. Howard spoke on the subject of “The Son of God.”
The next day was Sabbath and we went to visit the local SDA church along with the brethren who are still members there. There were about 300 people present, meeting in a rented school auditorium. There was a lot of singing during the service that we greatly enjoyed. The entire congregation sang lustily. Africans have a natural ability to sing in the various parts: bass, tenor soprano, etc., and the harmony was rich and melodious. I really enjoyed it and I regret that my recording equipment could not do justice to it.
The elder who had invited me to eat with them had earlier spoken to me and told me that he believed in what we were teaching, but he was not happy with our methods. His idea was that if we worked in a more disguised manner and were not so open in condemning error and promoting the truth, then eventually we could get the whole church over to the truth. He said that he would never ever leave the SDA church. When I asked, “What if the SDA Church leaves the truth?” He said that could not happen because the Holy Spirit would lead it back. I wanted to talk to him some more but, unfortunately, when I sat beside him at lunch, he hardly spoke a word.
That night was to be an all night meeting. We were sure that the people would be very tired and sleepy, and after a sermon or two, most of them would be fast asleep. We also felt that after a full day at church they would be worn out and just not able to bear the strain involved in an all night meeting. However, the brethren insisted that all would be well and so, rather reluctantly, we submitted to their program. We, however, knew our limitations and stayed at home in the afternoon and tried to get some sleep to prepare for it.
That evening Howard and I were very pleasantly surprised. About 50 people were there when we started at 9:00 p.m., and by the time we ended at 5:00 a.m. the following morning, there were still about 30. The people held up like champions. A few were fighting sleep, yes, but the majority was very alert right through. They were thrilled with the messages as we spoke about “The Holy Spirit,” “God on Trial,” and also told of our experiences with the church and how we were disfellowshipped, and discussed the problems with the church. I have never seen people so eager and receptive to the truth, and so anxious to learn more. During the time between presentations we had real African singing. The congregational singing was wonderful, but there were also some special items by a group called “Unshaken.” These were especially delightful.
One of the ladies who belong to this group had come to the meetings on the previous two nights. She was so thrilled that she wanted the rest of her friends to hear so, in order to get them to come she decided to ask them to sing some songs. After the songs, some of them went home, but others stayed until morning. One young lady was being urged by her sister to leave so they could go home, but she refused and eventually her sister had to leave her. She stayed until morning and never once closed her eyes.
Sunday evening a meeting was scheduled at Brother Charles’ house (since the meeting hall was no longer available). Howard was unable to attend, but I spoke on “God’s Administration.” Those who came were very happy with what they learned.
Monday was our last day in South Africa and thankfully Howard was feeling much better except for a cold and periodic sneezing. We went around town with some of the young men looking for a used photocopier, which, we were told, could be purchased for a small sum. After seeing the work they were doing with very little resources, we were anxious to help them to find a way to reproduce literature. After visiting a few places we realized that the copiers were more expensive than we expected. The cheapest second hand copier we saw cost about $400.00 (US) so we returned home without purchasing one. However, before we left Johannesburg, we made sure that they had the funds for this photocopy machine and since returning home we have received news from Brother Onward that they have obtained this machine and that it is doing a great work for the truth!
As we searched for this copier we passed through some of the more wealthy areas of Johannesburg and we realized that some parts of the city were very modern and like some of the best cities in the United States. However, the area where we stayed was one of the poorer areas and in many ways reminded us of some parts of downtown Kingston, Jamaica.
That day we had lunch at Brother Charles’ home. His wife had made “pap” for us. Pap is made from ground corn (maize) and is Africa’s main staple food. In South Africa it is called “pap” but in Kenya and Tanzania it is called “ugali.” It was my first experience eating “pap,” but Howard was accustomed to the taste, having been to Africa before. This “pap,” is made without any salt or seasoning. The consistency of it is somewhat like turned cornmeal, but more firm. It is eaten with the fingers, usually with some other food that is salty such as Chinese cabbage or something similar. We enjoyed this meal and Howard made arrangements to buy a few pounds of this white cornmeal so that he could try to make pap when he went home.
That evening we went to see Mdu’s sister who had really come to appreciate this truth and is photocopying pages and passing them out to friends to study and read. She was delighted to have us in her home. We had a lovely discussion and then a wonderful meal. It was hard to say good-bye and we did not leave until about 10.00 p.m.
Tuesday morning came too quickly and it was time for us to leave South Africa. Our next stop would be Nairobi, Kenya.
Our flight to Kenya was three hours and thirty-five minutes. On arrival we had a rather speedy and quiet customs clearance. As we looked at the persons waiting for passengers with placards bearing names, we did not see our names, so we decided to wait on the inside. Later on I walked on the outside to see if anyone would recognize us, but no one did. Finally I made a phone call to Pastor Moses Nyamora, our contact person whom we were to meet, and discovered that he was on a bus on his way to the airport. A few minutes later he arrived. It was the first time on our trip that we would be taking public transportation with our entire luggage. However, we had to wait for another group of brethren who were also coming by bus to meet us. So we waited, and waited. After a long wait and a few phone calls back and forth we were told that they had already arrived at the airport, but had gotten lost, as they had gone to the wrong section. Eventually they found us, the wait was over, and they arrived overjoyed to meet us. We got on a bus and headed for the city of Nairobi.
The drive to Nairobi was similar to what it might have been on a bus in Jamaica. The driver drove like he was the only one on the road and all the traffic in his way had to pull over when he decided to pass another vehicle. It was not too strange to two Jamaicans. However, when we got to Nairobi itself, it was a different story for me. Here the traffic was jam-packed with just inches between each vehicle. Pedestrians crossed the road at their own peril, as the drivers did not seem to be aware of their existence. It seemed that at any moment there would be a crash and an impossible pile up, but miraculously, we got to our destination unscathed.
From Nairobi, an ancient taxi took us to the area where Moses lived. From there, we got into two smaller taxis and, finally, after a bumpy ride over some very bad roads, we arrived at the small but cheerful home of Moses.
Brother Moses Nyamora lives in a small two-bedroom house with his wife and 11 children, four by his wife and the other seven adopted. (Two more children have been received since we left!) Moses and Prisca are very nice people. Prisca is a pleasant, hard-working woman. I was amazed to think that so many people could hold in one house, but the children sleep three to a bed in one room. While I was there, I was greatly impressed with Brother Moses’ household. First of all, though the tiny house was heavily overworked while we were there (at times there were more than 20 people in the house as there was a constant stream of visitors coming to see us), Sister Prisca never once seemed to be annoyed or flustered. Though she was constantly busy cleaning up or preparing food, or otherwise entertaining the guests, she was full of cheerfulness and a hospitality that was remarkable. We also had conversations with the children and were impressed with their mannerly, forthright yet hospitable, and relaxed attitude.
Moses’ wife was a reflection of many women in Africa. I must confess that I have never seen women work so hard, so cheerfully. They accept the idea that it is their duty to bear the heaviest burdens and we often saw women, especially in Ghana later, carrying loads on their heads that seemed to be almost taller than they were. In addition to these loads many of these women often had a baby strapped to their backs in the customary African way.
We were scheduled to spend only one night in Nairobi before leaving for the town of Arusha in Tanzania, where we would be attending a camp meeting. After the camp meeting, we would return to Kenya to spend a few more days, and at that time we would hold some meetings there. We were hoping to leave early the next morning (Wednesday). However, there was a bit of a delay. Sister Esther McDaniel from Smyrna (the editor of Hearth to Hearth newsletter) was scheduled to arrive that morning from the USA, as she also would be attending the camp meeting and visiting some places in Kenya. Though her flight arrived on time, her transportation from the airport was delayed. By the time she arrived, got cleaned up, and had some food, we were significantly later than we had anticipated.
The journey from Kenya to Tanzania was made by taxi. Seven of us, including the driver, were crammed into the car and although it was a fairly large car, it became a bit of an endurance trial before the journey was over. The journey took place in two stages. The first stage of the journey was from Nairobi to the Kenya/Tanzania border. For the second stage, we got another taxi that took us from the border to Arusha. It was bush country for most of the way and the road was very straight for miles and miles, but there were moments when we really got excited as we had the privilege of seeing some of the natural life of Africa. Once we saw an ostrich trying to cross the road to get to a female on the other side. When he saw us he ran off a little bit, but we got a good look and a few far-off photos. He was much more colorful than they often appear in pictures that we have seen. Then later we saw a herd of about eight giraffes cross the road ahead of us. They stopped on the other side and again we got some photos. We also saw some zebras and a herd of camels. It was very interesting. We also saw many of the Masai people along the way. Apparently there was a drought that had already been in progress for many months. Everywhere was brown and dry, and as a result, many of the Masai had come in from the bush and were living a little closer to civilization. At least that is what one of them told me when we stopped at the border.
Arusha Camp Meeting
When we arrived in Arusha we found our host, Brother K. Kitomari waiting for us at the bus stop. From there we were taken by bus to the place where we would be staying. We, along with Sister Esther and her traveling companion, Annah Nyambeki from Nairobi, would be staying on the premises where the camp meeting would be held. This was in the Usa River area, at a place called Powellimav. The other brethren would be staying at a large house some distance away in an area called “Maji Ya Chai,” close to where Brother Kitomari lives.
The premises where the camp meeting was to be held had been rented from the Lutherans, who have established a training school there for handicapped children. While we were there these children were attending classes in shoemaking, sewing, machine shop work, welding, etc. We were quite impressed with the work that was being done. The campus was quite beautiful by any standards. The assembly hall had been rented for our camp meeting, while we (Howard, David, Sisters Esther and Annah), had rented a couple of rooms in one of the cottages for the duration of our time in Arusha.
We had come to Africa with a guarded attitude, not quite sure what to expect. We receive many letters from Africa with requests for various things and stories, which at times, are hard to accept at face value. Due to this, we were at first cautious. We were wonderfully surprised. The brethren whom we encountered in Africa were, for the most part, the best of people and they are working hard to spread the truth. We found that Brother Kitomari (a former minister in the IMS branch of the SDA Reform Movement) had translated several books into the Swahili language. We were amazed when he showed us several booklets such as Who is Telling the Truth About God, The Mystery Demystified, The Omega, etc., as well as several tracts, all carefully translated into Swahili and written out by hand, preserved in notebooks, but neither typed nor published because of a lack of funds. We could see that he had put a lot of work into translating these materials. Before we left we made sure that he had the money for typesetting these books and made a commitment that we would print at least a supply of these books and ship them back to Africa.
Another day Howard caught sight of a tract in a woman’s Bible entitled, “Mungu wa Biblia.” We borrowed this tract and looked it over. Though we could not read the words we realized that it was a translation of our tract, “The God of the Bible.” Upon inquiry we discovered that this tract, along with a couple of other tracts, have been translated by Pastor Adam Mwambene (also a former minister in the IMS). He has not been able to get these tracts printed in large amounts because of the expense involved, but he has been distributing photocopies.
I was left with no doubt that these brethren are sincere believers who love the truth and have a great interest in spreading it. Brother Alfred Mukhooli from Uganda was present along with Brother Fred Musungu and a couple of others from his country. We learned that he had travelled all the way to Homa Bay in Kenya to plant the truth there. As a result of his visit Pastor Maurice Anyango, a Seventh-day Adventist minister of nine years, had accepted the truth and has now become the main advocate of the truth in the Oyugis area, after being put out of the SDA ministry.
Brother Ephraim Ngwenya drove over 2,000 miles to come from Zimbabwe with a small group from his home church, including his wife, Sibonisiwe, his sister, Fathima, and Brother Vusa Ncube, a Bible worker from their group. As with the Zimbabweans whom I met in Johannesburg, I found them to be earnest people with a love for the truth and a good understanding of the word of God. Melody Tshabalala, mother of Michael Sibanda, who is in prison, was also with them and four men from Zambia traveled with them as well.
Brother Moses Nyamora is pastor of a church of more than 60 members who all believe the truth about God and he was present along with his sister, Annah Nyambeki.
Howard and I did most of the preaching at the camp meeting. However, there were contributions from most of the others from the various countries and even one presentation by Sister Esther on the subject of home schooling.
Many of the brethren here seemed to have the same difficulties with legalism that we encountered in Europe. The same question came up about women covering their hair and braiding their hair. Some of the brethren, especially the ministers, seemed to have a good understanding of these things but some of the others seemed to have difficulty with appreciating the answers that I gave to some of these questions. Brother Mwambene whispered to me that it was because of the extreme legalism that existed in the movement they had previously been involved with and they still had those bad ideas in their heads.
During my trip to Europe a few weeks earlier, I had seen three areas in which the people seemed to need the greatest instruction. It was the same in South Africa and also at the camp meeting. These areas are: The Godhead, Biblical Church Organization, and the issues related to the Law and Christ our Righteousness. For this reason, the messages were focused on these three areas. Our messages included topics such as “God’s Administration,” “Sons and Not Servants,” “The God of the Bible,” and others of a similar nature.
Beginning on Sabbath afternoon, we had reports from the various countries represented and were informed of how the work was progressing. The starting point of most of these experiences had been the visit of Howard and Lynnford to Africa two years ago when they visited Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Tanzania. We were especially blessed by the testimonies from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Later some information came to light that led us to believe that all was not well in Zambia and that some of the representatives from there were not altogether straightforward in their report and activities. (If you have been supporting ministers from this area, you may call or write Smyrna or us for details.)
Group from the Camp Meeting in Arusha
The camp meeting ended with a baptism where six precious souls gave their lives to the Lord. This baptism took place in what seemed to me to be an irrigation ditch, where the water was just about at the knee of Brother Kitomari, who conducted the baptism. I was made to understand that this water was from the Usa River, but it must have been just a part of it that was diverted for irrigation because the channel in which it ran was clearly man-made and was very narrow and shallow. It was a real challenge to Brother Kitomari to lift up the candidates after he had put them under the water, and there were a couple of near disasters when he stumbled, but by the grace of God there was no mishap. The singing in the open air was exhilarating. It was a lovely scene with the snow-capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro towering over the landscape. Nearer at hand, and covered in clouds, was Mount Meru.
The camp meeting was scheduled to conclude with a workers meeting, where an effort would be made to bring some kind of organization to the work in Africa. There were representatives from all the countries present except for Zambia, whose elected representatives left before the workers’ meetings started, for reasons that seemed to be very suspicious. The only remaining person from Zambia was a young brother named Chinyemba Mafo who came from a different part of Zambia than the ones who had left.
During the meetings, we looked at various issues such as:
There was a bit of discussion on this last idea and some were also of the opinion that we needed this to ensure that we have a uniform faith. However, other factors were looked at. Some were of the opinion that a statement of beliefs would not so much serve to unify us, but rather to become a means of separating us from others. It was also pointed out that we might make a statement with which we could agree, but what was to stop our children from adding to, or changing that statement? This was felt to be an open door by which corporate apostasy could be introduced, as has been the case with the SDA denomination. Eventually we agreed to leave that matter alone and to continue to make the Bible our sole authority, even though we did not have one hundred percent agreement on this point.
Tarangire Wildlife Park
The end of the workers’ meeting brought an end to the meetings in Arusha, with one day to spare, so the brethren decided to take us to one of their national parks. We decided to go to Tarangire because it was the best of those that was nearby (only two and a half hours away), and it was also much less expensive than Serengeti and Ngoro Ngoro National Parks.
During preparations the morning of the trip, Howard seriously hurt his back, so he was unable to visit the park, missing out on an exciting trip. At the wild and natural setting of the park, we saw among other things, lots of zebras, wildebeests, giraffes, elephants, gazelle, antelope, meerkats, ostriches, etc. and even a few lions, We managed to come very close to them but we stayed in the vehicle. It was a real thrill for us to see these animals living in their natural environment.
Along the way to the park, we also got to see a lot of the natural life of the grasslands of Tanzania. There were many people of the Masai tribe, along the way herding cattle or just walking along the roadside. Some of them had spears, but every single one of them, even the little boys carries a stick. It is a trademark of the Masai. All the men wear a red robe with blue stripes. This robe is just basically a piece of cloth draped around them.
The Masai is a nomadic tribe living in Kenya and Tanzania who have never succumbed to the ways of “civilization.” Once we saw a Masai riding a motorbike and it was a source of amazement to our African friends. However, once we even saw one in an Internet cafe sending an email, dressed up in all his Masai regalia! These Masai live by their cattle. They have herds of cows mingled with goats and sheep. Over and over we passed solitary Masai men or boys (some perhaps as young as seven or eight years old), alone, out in the bush, watching over a herd of maybe fifty or a hundred cows mingled with sheep. Each one had his trademark stick and some had spears. This was their job all day.
These Masai drink the milk from the cows. However, they also periodically pierce a vein in the neck of their cows from which they will draw blood that also forms a part of their diet. They are closely bonded to their cows and depend on them for their livelihood. We passed many Masai villages. These are mainly temporary mud huts that are covered with thatch. In the center of each village there is often an enclosure of thorns in which they keep their cattle at night. For centuries Masai young men have proven their manhood by killing lions with nothing but a spear. Brother Moses told me, “If a lion sees a Masai, he will run away at a very fast speed.”
While we were in Kenya, a report appeared in the newspapers that the Masai had killed ten lions that had wandered out of one of the national parks. These lions had killed some of the Masai cows and, in revenge; the Masai had killed ten of them. The conservationists were incensed at the killing of the lions, however, a spokesman for the Masai said, “When the lions kill one hundred of our cows nobody says a word, but as soon as we kill a single lion everybody is upset.” These Masai are not required to have passports or to pass through immigration or customs when they move from one country to another. The officials leave them alone and do not attempt to subject them to the same regulations that govern the movement of ordinary people!
On Friday, the day after our visit to Tarangire, we returned to Nairobi. After another wearying drive we arrived at about 3:30 in the afternoon. We shopped around to find a monitor for a computer that was being donated to the orphanage in Oyugis before returning to Moses’ home on the outskirts of Nairobi.
On Sabbath we had a good meeting in Nairobi with maybe 80 people there who have accepted the message. These were mostly members of Brother Moses’ church, but there were also some who had come from Kisii, many miles away. Some of them, such as Brothers Evans Magare and Richard Mogendi, had been Sunday keeping preachers. However, they had accepted the Sabbath and were thrilled to learn the truth about God. They were anxious that we should come to Kisii also to spend some time teaching their people there. Unfortunately our schedule was too tight to allow us to do so, and we had to promise that we would pray about the possibility of doing so sometime in the future.
Also present were some who were refugees from the Congo and their condition was heartrending. Their clothes were ill fitting and the children were ragged. They have been living on charity for 18 months now because the government of Kenya has not accepted them. They sang a touching song, about their condition, in Swahili and somebody translated for us. The song said,
Father in heaven, hear us as we are praying for you to bless us
Father, we are in a corrupt world.
O God where are we going, with our loads on our backs
Children are dying because of hunger, O where are you God?
We are now asking you God to bless us.
Mothers are running, Father will you help them?
Fathers are running, Father will you help them?
Children are running, Father will you help them?
What mistake have we made, Rwanda and Burundi?
People are being killed like animals, God, where are you?
Churches are empty, Christians are being separated,
Rwanda people and Ugandans are running, God, please help them.
Sudanese people are running, God please help them,
Burundi people are running, God please help them
Congo people are running, God please help them
It was deeply touching. They sang with feeling from their own experience. These people had been Pentecostals, but then when they heard the message about God, through Moses, they accepted the truth.
Of course, there is a glaring need here for all kinds of things. After seeing the condition here, I am more sympathetic towards the “hands stretched out” attitude of some Africans even though we had the bad experiences too. But these cases were the exception. The people, for the most part, displayed unexpected nobility.
The drive to the orphanage in Oyugis was another long and wearying one. On the way through Nairobi to catch a bus I was forced to run with two suitcases and, as a result, my back started giving me problems. Both Howard and I were now suffering from the same problem and I hoped that the brethren would not conclude that Jamaicans had weak backs! The bus ride was not helpful to our backs, especially since we were sitting over the rear wheels of the bus and could feel every bump and pothole in the road. The bus that we travelled on was one of those large old buses (in Jamaica we would call it a country bus). Every few miles somebody would get up and start preaching in a shrill strident voice. This was sometimes punctuated by the crowing of a rooster, which was apparently also a passenger on the bus, a few seats ahead of us.
The scenery was fascinating, although Howard saw very little of it. He was again not feeling well. He had left Nairobi with a high fever and was of the opinion that he had contracted malaria. However, I did not think it was malaria, because everyone had reassured us that there was no malaria in the area of Nairobi. The brethren in Nairobi got him some malaria pills, which he duly took, but for most of the trip to Kisii, on the way to the orphanage, he was sleeping off whatever bug had gotten into his system.
A man was sitting beside me on the bus and we soon struck up a conversation. I discovered that he was a policeman, and one of the security officers responsible for guarding the president of Kenya. However, he was on holiday and on his way home to visit his wife and child in a place called Kericho, because the president was at that time away on a visit to the USA. This man gave me a running commentary and pointed out all the places of interest along the way. At one point we passed by a road to a place called Eldoret, and he told me that this was the place where all the great runners from Kenya originated. They all belonged to a particular tribe, which lived in that region called Eldoret.
The Orphanage in Oyugis
Finally, we arrived in the town of Kisii where we got a minibus that took us to Oyugis where the orphanage is. As soon as we arrived at the gate an explosion of laughing, shouting children erupted around us and we were swarmed by hugging and kissing children of all sizes and ages. It was a bit overwhelming! Later in the evening they burst into a song that almost took off the rafters. They seemed very happy and we recognized that God is doing a real work here. There was worship each morning at 5.00 a.m. with a different child each day leading out in the lesson and prayer.
One of the highlights of this trip to the orphanage was the singing. Pastor Maurice has done a great job with these children and young people. They have a lovely choir which sang several times while we were there and, each time, I was deeply thrilled by the singing. The children range in age from about three years to about 19 with a mixture of both boys and girls. Each child seems to know his duties very well and carries out his or her task willingly and cheerfully. One noticeable feature was the way the older children looked after and supervised the younger ones. The atmosphere of the family was very real.
The rented facilities at the orphanage are not too bad by African standards. However, there are only two toilets to serve nearly 90 persons, and these toilets are in the African style, simply a hole cut into the concrete floor with a pit underneath. Many of the other facilities would also be inadequate by western standards. The cooking is done on wood fires in a small log building and the dishes are washed outside in the open air. However, the children cooperate in making the best of what they have and they seemed to be quite happy.
Children from the orphanage
While at the orphanage we were able to meet a few of the persons from the area who have accepted the truth about God. One of these was a man present from the “Jesus only” belief who was quite enthusiastic when he discovered that we did not believe in the Trinity. However, we soon got into a discussion on the subject where we began to look more closely at the problems with the “Jesus Only” belief. To his credit this man listened carefully and at the end admitted that there were some things which he had not thought about, and which he needed to look into more carefully. After two days at the orphanage, we departed for the journey back to Nairobi, from where we would be leaving for Ghana. We left Sister Esther behind as she was scheduled to spend two more weeks in Oyugis at the orphanage. This was really where her heart was and she was so happy to be there that it seemed she would cheerfully have spent six weeks there.
After arriving back in Nairobi, we spent the night packing our things and saying goodbye to Moses’ family. They were sweet to the end and sang a few songs for us before we turned in to bed on this final night. We left the following morning to go to the airport. We took off from Kenya full of memories and a little sad to leave so many good friends behind. However, we were getting really homesick and the thought that we were one step closer to home mitigated our sorrow at leaving. Sadly, after leaving us at the airport, Brother Moses was beat up and robbed. He was badly bruised on his chest from being beat upon with the butt end of a revolver!
After a five-hour flight, we arrived at the airport at Accra, Ghana with some measure of misgivings. Our contact in Ghana, the person who had arranged the meetings, was Brother Paul Osei Agyeman. We had first heard of this brother through Erwin Zoor from Germany, who had told us of a brother from Ghana who had shared the truth about God with 18 churches that had accepted the message. We had made contact with Brother Agyeman, but we had no clear information as to whether or not we would be met at the airport. We had received an email simply giving us instructions as to which buses would take us the 450 kilometers from Accra, where we would land, to Berekum where the meetings would be taking place.
The passage through the airport at Accra was smooth and quick. It is a very small airport by today’s standards and everything was relaxed and low key. In fact, it was like this generally all over Africa. As soon as we had collected our baggage and stepped out of the restricted area, our fears were allayed. Four young men were standing there holding up placards on which our names and photographs were prominently displayed! After enthusiastic introductions we got into a minivan on the side of which was a logo of the three angels of Revelation 14, with “Remnant International Missionary School,” written in bold letters along each side of the van.
From the airport we were taken to a home in Accra where we met Brother Paul. He had visitors with him from Germany, so his attention had to be divided between them and us. However, this gave us an opportunity, as we ate a meal, to observe quietly. After eating we set out on the journey to Berekum, which would take us the rest of the day. It was an exhausting trip that took even longer than anticipated because of a boiling radiator on the van, which caused us to stop regularly to refill with water. We arrived at about 9:00 p.m. that night, weary, and glad to find a room with two beds waiting for us.
The next morning, after breakfast, Brother Paul explained to us that we would not be having any meetings that first day, but we would have the opportunity to rest and to do some sightseeing. In fact, he had arranged for us to be taken to a village three hours away where we would see monkeys living in perfect harmony with humans. The meetings would begin the following day and would consist of four meetings each day for five days, all of which would be taken by Howard and myself. This was a rough schedule, but we were prepared for it.
The visit to the monkey sanctuary was interesting. We had the usual trauma with the van stopping every few miles to refill. Otherwise everything went well. When we arrived, all we saw was a village with people. There was not a monkey in sight. However, I soon spotted one in a nearby tree and, after we procured some corn, which we held out to them (unknown to the ranger who was our guide) they started to appear by the dozen. Soon we had monkeys of all sizes around us. They walked about all over the cars and the houses and calmly sat beside us eating from our hands.
The ranger had taken some of the visitors on a tour but both Howard and I were suffering from back problems and we declined to go on the tour. When the ranger came back and found us feeding the monkeys he asked us to stop and explained that they did not want the monkeys to become dependent on humans. He was very nice about it and, in fact, was thrilled to have Jamaicans there. He, like everybody else in Africa, knew all about the Jamaican Reggae singer Bob Marley and thought that Jamaica was the greatest place on earth. This was one thing that amazed us while there. As soon as we mentioned that we were Jamaicans anywhere in Africa, immediately we became special people. Everybody wanted to tell us how wonderful Jamaica was and how they dreamed of coming there one day.
At first we had many questions about Brother Paul and his work in Ghana, but the more we learned, the more impressed we became. Brother Paul Osei Agyeman is the successor to the position of chieftain, or local king, in his ancestral village. In fact, the reigning chief recently died and several delegations have been sent to Brother Paul requesting that he take up his position as chief. However, he has refused to accept such a position. He told us that he could never accept such a position because being a chief involves paying homage to dead ancestors, and other spiritualistic rituals that are incompatible with Christian convictions.
Brother Paul is the foremost leader of a group of nearly 2,000 people in 19 churches who have been put out of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. The SDA leaders have acted in an arrogant and high-handed way towards these brethren that is almost unbelievable. However, the end result is that in the Mid-west Ghana Conference of 31 churches, 17 churches have been put out of the SDA organization, while 14 have elected to submit to the tyranny of the leaders, and to remain with the conference. Two other churches from another conference have also been separated from the SDA organization.
The controversy started when the conference organized ecumenical meetings, some of which involved Sunday-keeping ministers preaching in Seventh-day Adventist churches. Brother Paul, who was at that time a popular lay evangelist working hand in hand with the conference to establish new churches, raised objections to these ecumenical meetings and the disagreement between him and the conference became so sharp that the conference instructed his church board to disfellowship him. When the church board refused, they instructed the church to dismantle the church board. When the church refused, they expelled the church from the sisterhood of churches.
They accused Brother Paul of many things and made it known, among other things, that he was educating the churches not to return tithes to the conference. A delegation of 11 elders from 11 churches in the conference decided to investigate the accusations of the conference and to that end they came to the Berekum District where Brother Paul operates. The first church they came to had, that very week, returned three million (3,000,000) Cedis (the Ghanian unit of currency) to the conference, so the elders discovered that the allegations of the conference officials against Brother Paul were not true. They visited the conference office and stated their findings. The conference officials were so infuriated that these elders should dare to disagree with them that they drove these elders away from the conference premises and told them that if they should ever come there again without the permission of their various pastors they would be disfellowshipped. True to their word, the next time these elders returned to the conference office on the same mission, they disfellowshipped seven of them. Four of them were not disfellowshipped because they were from the Berekum District and, in that District, it was not easy for the conference to disfellowship those elders.
Many other things happened which cannot be covered in such a short report. We intend to do a special report on what happened in Ghana in the near future. However, the final arrogant move of the conference was to demand that all the churches in the conference should write a letter stating that they were Seventh-day Adventists and that they were willing to obey the conference. Fourteen of the churches meekly complied with this demand, 17 of them however stated that they had always been Seventh-day Adventists and that they saw no reason to write such a letter. In addition, they were willing to obey the conference only where the conference was in obedience to God. These 17 churches, consisting of approximately 2,000 people were summarily dismissed from the sisterhood of churches.
These brethren have accepted the truth about God and are working to spread the message in Ghana. They have a small radio station that broadcasts 20 hours each day and also a printing press. God has blessed them with a 70-acre farm and another 80-acre piece of land where they are establishing a missionary training school. One building for classes has already been constructed. They were very happy for the message that we shared with them because, although they had come to understand that God is not a trinity, they had many questions which needed answering and by the grace of God we were able to supply many of these answers and to give them a better understanding of the truth. These brethren will be having a camp meeting in Berekum from December 28 to January 4 with close to 2,000 people expected to attend!
Meetings in Berekum
Our meetings in Ghana were held on the property of 80 acres where Brother Paul lives. The building where we met was very plain. It is constructed of boards and is just a framework with the bottom half boarded up and the top half open to the elements. A zinc (tin) roof and a concrete floor complete this building. However, this is the pattern for most of the schools, and many of the churches, which we saw in Ghana. This building will hold perhaps up to one hundred and fifty persons, and it was here that we had our meetings. The majority of those who attended camped out at Brother Paul’s house, or in other buildings on the property. Howard and I however, also held meetings in the church back in town each night, and so arrangements were made for us to stay at another house closer to town. This was the house where Brother Paul had formerly lived and it was on these premises that the printing press and literature storeroom were located.
The enthusiasm of the young men and women who attended these meetings in Berekum was a great blessing. One thing that will live in my mind was the memory of a whole roomful of them diligently taking notes and writing down every Bible verse that we mentioned. They were quick to grasp what we were saying and as Brother Paul quizzed them the following morning, they demonstrated that they not only understood, but also remembered very well the things that we had taught. Another thing that I will not forget is the way they said “amen.” They would be very quiet during prayer, but when whoever was praying would come to the end and say, “In Jesus’ name, amen,” Then there would be a roar of “amen” which almost raised the roof. I have never heard amen said in such an enthusiastic manner anywhere else in the world.
While I was in Berekum, during these meetings, an irritation developed in my throat that seemed to migrate to my lungs and after a while I had a constant irritating cough. Eventually my throat became very sore and my voice left me. I could only speak in a hoarse whisper and even that effort was painful. We had already had some wonderful studies on the subject of the godhead, but I was anxious to deal with some of the issues of the law and righteousness, and I was scheduled to speak on the topic, “Delivered from the Law,” that day. I was not willing to put off, or to leave out, that subject.
After trying, with much success, a home remedy, the brethren got out some public address equipment to aid my voice. There was no electricity but they had a generator and soon had it going. With this equipment, I preached in a whisper, but everyone heard very clearly. I was not very comfortable but God gave me strength and I had the satisfaction of seeing that the message was a great blessing to those who listened.
This throat irritation bothered me for the rest of my time in Africa, because although the hoarseness gradually diminished, I coughed constantly whenever there was the slightest pressure on my lungs and this included whenever I sat down and leaned back, or whenever I lay down. I was not sure if this problem developed because of some virus or germ that I encountered and to which my body was not accustomed, or because of the excessive dust which was prevalent everywhere in Ghana. Many of the roads are made of a combination of asphalt and dirt. This does not hold up very well and the result is that there is dust everywhere along most of the roadways. The trees, the buildings, everything is covered with dust.
The national food staple of Ghana is fufu. Fufu is a combination of cassava and plantain. This is beaten into a paste somewhat of the consistency of kneaded white flour, which is eaten with the fingers after being dipped in soup, and is supposed to be swallowed without being chewed! Howard and I found this to be more of a challenge than we could face. Banku, a similar compound made with cornmeal instead of cassava, was equally difficult for us. However, we discovered that Ghana has some of the best yams in the world. We thoroughly enjoyed the yams and so we asked for yams from then on, and we did pretty well on a diet of yams and plantains. In the mornings I had bread with peanut butter. Most of the time we were in Africa, Howard elected to do without breakfast.
When the time came for us to leave Ghana, it was with a feeling that there was still a great deal left for us to do. It seemed that we had just barely begun to know the people, and the truth is that we had only met a very few of the 2,000 who had been disfellowshipped. Nevertheless, we were anxious to get home.
The Journey Home
We left Accra on Wednesday, October 15. By the grace of God, we arrived in Jamaica at mid-day on Friday, October 17, gladder than we could express to see our families again. It took a few days for us to fully recover from the rigors of the trip. My voice is now normal and our backs are doing better as well. Nevertheless, it was not long after we returned home that I started missing Africa, thinking of the work that is still to be done there and hoping that the Lord will make it possible for us to return to this area of His vineyard where there is so much potential for the truth to grow.
Old Paths is a free monthly newsletter/study-paper published monthly by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, HC 64 Box 128-B, Welch WV 24801-9606. U.S.A. It is sent free upon request. The paper is dedicated to the propagation and restoration of the principles of truth that God gave to the early Seventh-day Adventist pioneers. Duplication is not only permitted, but strongly encouraged. This issue, with other gospel literature we publish, can be found at our web sites. The urls are: http://www.smyrna.org and http://www.presenttruth.info. Phone: (304) 732-9204. Fax: (304) 732-7322.
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This page was last updated: Sunday, May 26, 2013