On November 20, Nazarene churches throughout the USA participate in a Thank Offering for the World Evangelism Fund. Here is an opportunity to celebrate the gifts God has given us. Not only do we look back and remember what God has done, but we move forward as we return to God that which He entrusted to us.
Why give to the World Evangelism Fund(WEF)? Read how WEF helped Elinda and her family.
The world was a dark and sometimes hopeless place for Godson Bahabwa during the 12 years that he lived in the Osire Refugee Camp in Namibia.
Violence that started in the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 spilled across the borders into neighboring countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where Bahabwa was growing up. Violence flared here and there for many years.
Bahabwa’s father was a pastor, who raised his own family also to worship the Lord. He often taught his children that even when life was hard, they needed to trust God and remain faithful in following Him. This message carried him through the darkest days of life in the refugee camp.
In 2003, when his village was attacked by rebels, Bahabwa’s father, mother and older brother were killed. He fled alone, until he found himself across the border in Namibia. There was a refugee camp there, housing many other people who were driven out of the DRC and neighboring countries.
Bahabwa was alone, without family or friends, living in a tent in a crowded camp for the next 12 years. The situation was so hopeless that his faith in God was severely tested.
“Sometimes we start to think is there a God around? Is this God that my father was worshipping and was preaching – was this the same God that can allow me this life?”
In those darkest moments when he questioned the very goodness of God, the words of his father came back to him: “You have to remain in your faith. Through hard moments and problems, God will one day reward us.”
In that camp, Bahawba met Rev. Domingo, a Nazarene pastor overseeing a nearby local church. He introduced the young man to the pastor and local church inside the camp. There, Bahabwa found a church home and a new family. He assisted the pastor and led worship.
And he, like other members of the camp, found ways to sell small items in a market within the camp, making a little to support himself.
It was in this market where he met Elinda Felisberto from Angola. Back in their home country, Elinda and her family had been working in their garden when they noticed people running from the homes in their village. Acting quickly, she and her brother ran and took all the other brothers from their home and hid them in the brush outside the village. Her parents ran to join them. When they witnessed attackers burning the village, they ran for their lives.
“We didn’t know where we were going until we find some people in the district and they told us you are in Namibia,” she recalled, weeping. “We went inside Namibia and we gave ourselves to the police. They took us to the refugee camp where we stayed.”
Elinda’s family were not believers at the time. But they met a woman in Osire who was always encouraging them to have faith in God, and she shared scripture with them. Eventually they believed in Jesus and gave their lives to Him.
One day, Elinda and her mother went into the camp’s marketplace to shop. They stopped at the table where Bahabwa was selling his wares. He was friendly and engaged her in conversation. They began to get to know one another and soon he proposed. They waited until Elinda reached the legal age of 20 to be married and began their life together. They had two children.
This year, they learned from the United Nations Refugee Agency that they were next in line to receive visas and refugee status in the United States. The U.S. government decided to send them to Greensboro, North Carolina.
Domingo, now the district superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene in Namibia, contacted American missionaries Joe and Beth Heath, in South Africa, to see if they could help connect Bahabwa and his family to a Nazarene church in their new home.
“I sent an email to the pastors of the Nazarene churches in the Greensboro area explaining Godson’s situation and asking if one of them could connect and support Godson and his family,” wrote Beth on their ministry blog.
Bahabwa and his family arrived in Greensboro the first week of September with just two suitcases, and they prayed about which Nazarene church God wanted them to reach out to.
“When we were told we were going [to the U.S.], we were just asking ourselves, ‘Where are we going to in America? Are we going to meet our Nazarene church there? Are we going to meet nice people who understand us in that church?’ We were just having those doubts,” Elinda said.
After looking over the list of local churches and praying, they felt strongly that they should contact Southeast Church of the Nazarene.
About that same time, the Southeast Church’s pastor, Will Fields, had received a message that the family was coming, so he emailed them. Not having seen the email, they called Pastor Will Fields, left a message and then went to read their email. The couple were surprised and delighted to find the message waiting for them.
Fields gave them a tour of the town, and on Sunday introduced them to the congregation. The church has enthusiastically welcomed the new family, helping them acquire furniture for their apartment. One man, about to get married, gave his microwave and most of his cooking utensils, pots and pans to the family.
The Southeast Church of the Nazarene has a long history of missions involvement around the world, sending members and the pastor to Kenya, Swaziland and other nations to serve.
“We were starting to slow down and now it’s like God has brought the mission to us and now [the church has] a mission to the people around them,” Fields said.
Part of that is helping the Bahabwa family to become part of the church body and life. Bahabwa is a musician, playing several instruments and writing songs. Fields would like Bahabwa to get involved in the music ministry of the church.
“I’m thinking about the call of God on his life, I believe God brought him here for a purpose,” Fields said.
Elinda says she is filled with gratitude to the Church of the Nazarene for embracing the family and welcoming them with love. ~Engage Magazine
Through your generous giving to the World Evangelism Fund, local churches have been established across Africa, including Namibia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa and the United States, where they are providing hope, a family and ministry to families such as Godson and Elinda Bahabwa, who have sought refuge and peace from war and violence.
Every person who has given to World Evangelism Fund is part of this story. Thank you for your generous gift on Sunday, November 20 or give online by visiting the Give page.
Remember NO Wednesday Night Discipleship classes, 414U or GetSalty Small groups are scheduled for Wednesday November 23. All activities will resume at their regular times on November 30.