Spring 2021
Written by Brian & Debbie Howden - Angola

Here, the majority of the population are living hand to mouth one day at a time. Although the Government has been pushing the message 'Stay at Home', it is an impossibility for most people, as they would starve to death. So they have had no choice but to get on with life.Since last year we have been able to put our heads down and get on with what the Lord has placed into our hands to do for Him.

The primary school reopened, and together with the teachers, we are starting to get back into the routine. Apart from being ill for several weeks last November, we have kept well and busy. We trust that the following will keep you informed, up to date and aware of some of the current situations.

The assembly at Camundambala

We are thankful that the Government has allowed churches to open four times a week, for a maximum of 2 hours each service, together with social distancing and hand washing. This has enabled us to have the weekly Breaking of Bread meeting followed by a Gospel meeting or Bible teaching on alternate Sundays.

There is also the prayer meeting on Saturdays at 4:30 pm. We are pleased to see that numbers have increased in attendance, and now we get between 30-50 believers present at the prayer meeting. With over 40 young people in the weekly Bible classes, it is not realistic to think that all will go on strongly for the Lord. It is disappointing when young folk who have heard the Word taught so much choose to disobey Scripture. We are thankful that those showing genuine interest in spiritual things have not fallen in the past 12 months - that would be a devastating blow. On the plus side, the assembly has restored to fellowship a number who had fallen into various sins, and we pray that their repentance is genuine and that they may start walking with the Lord again. '

It's a joy to hear the young people in Bible class speak well of their elders as they recognize that the elders are very encouraging to the young men. This past week they publicly announced that three young men who have been in Bible class for almost five years will now be given the responsibility of preaching the Gospel. We are greatly encouraged by this and have every confidence that the Gospel they preach is Christ-centred and Biblically based. We now have ten men in the assembly who are faithfully preaching the Gospel.

Thank you for praying for the assembly at Camundambala, please continue to do so, that the work will become stronger, based on the Bible and a shining light in the village.

Bible classes
Our weekly bible classes continue - this is a plodding, slow work where results are not seen for a long time, perhaps years later. Filipe, Bigelo, and Horano lead weekly classes, and currently, I have four a week. Our new Monday night class consists of seven young men aged 18-21 who will hopefully remain with us for the next six years. We pray that we will see them grow spiritually and start to contribute something to the local assembly.

Please pray that all those who take part in the classes will grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord and that they will, in turn, be a blessing to others and used of the Lord in the local assembly. During the past year, the Angolan Literature Fund has provided us with a considerable amount of literature. With the Government lifting restrictions, the Emmaus Bookroom has reopened. And literature is getting into the population of Saurimo and beyond.

Saurimo Emmaus and Print Room workers: L-R Jacob, Chichi, Paula and Bigelo

Study Bibles, commentaries, bible study aids and hymnbooks are currently in plentiful supply here. As we have been trying to outline various aspects of the work locally, we would value prayer for the situation nationally. Since the 1980s, the Government has required all churches to be registered and have a "declaration of faith." They also require that every denomination have a spokesman to represent that church group to the Government. This requirement in the Bible context has always been a little fraught for the local assemblies, as you can imagine. We trust this gives you a little insight into the work here. Lots to encourage, but lots to keep us pressing on. We value every prayer offered on our behalf and for the work here.

We are still in the rainy season, so everywhere is lush and green. Some days are oppressively hot, while other days can be remarkably cool. Debbie had a close encounter with a Spitting Cobra a few weeks back. She didn't see it until she was almost upon it. It sprayed her with its venom, but thankfully she was not harmed. The cobra tried to escape, but we think the lads killed it several days later when it made another appearance.

The believers here are very kind to us, bringing us sweetcorn, tomatoes, potatoes, eggs etc. and they are keenly aware that we haven't been able to see our family. We were planning to return to the UK in July 2020, but with restrictions in place, we wouldn't have been able to meet freely with family or friends, so we changed it to December. As the situation hadn't improved, we then got tickets for February 2021. However, another lockdown was imposed, so we have just left it to the Lord to show us when to go home for a break. We will reassess the situation in March/April. It would be so frustrating going home for a few weeks and not be able to spend time with family freely, so we have decided to stay put until we can go home and enjoy time together.

Once again, many thanks for your prayers, practical support, messages and emails. We do appreciate everyone who continues to stand with us in the work of the Lord.

Spring 2021
Written by Brian & Debbie Howden - Angola