People in the news in 2017
Chrissandra, Paxton, Julia, and Sam: four names, four people, four different stories right from the heart of reality of New Apostolic Christians: sometimes sad, sometimes wonderful, but always strong in faith.
She was killed in the crossfire between police and criminals. Chrissandra Oppermann, 30 years old, a youth leader in Cape Town (South Africa), had just returned home from a youth excursion. About 800 people attended the funeral in the New Apostolic congregation of Netreg in August 2017.
“Chrissie was loved by all and had a positive impact on everyone who knew her,” her mother said. Ward councillor Angus McKenzie said, “She had a beautiful soul.” Chrissandra’s last post on Facebook was taken from Philippians 4: 19: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
Chrissie is one of twenty-four Church members who have all been killed between May 2016 and August 2017—all in the diocese of Bishop Alwin Witten alone. Twenty-four of our brothers and sisters, who have became victims of gang wars and indiscriminate violence.
From children’s choir to pop idol
Bishop Lavis is the Township in Cape Town in which Chrissie Oppermann lived and died. Paxton Fielies grew up in the same Township. Her life has recently taken a radically different turn.
The seventeen-year-old was voted South Africa’s newest idol in November 2017 in the thirteenth season of the casting show Idols SA. During the competition, the young woman had her very own fan club rooting for her: her brothers and sisters from the New Apostolic Church. After all, Paxton’s career as a singer began in the Church, in the NAC Children Choir to be exact.
“She is a very believing girl from a faithful family,” District Apostle John L. Kriel reports. Paxton does not hide this in television interviews. When asked what the most important factors in her life are, Paxton Fielies says: “God, family, and music”—in exactly that order.
A melody for hundreds of thousands
With “Lord, have mercy on my life” Julia Maier from Vienna in Austria touched hundreds of thousands on Pentecost 2017. She sang the emotional ballad, accompanying herself on the piano, together with the choir and orchestra about fifteen minutes before the start of the Pentecost service.
The idea for the song came when she was confronted with having to take leave of a loved one. Even though there is a sense of melancholy, the song is carried by gratefulness and hope: gratefulness for God’s love and every beautiful moment spent together; hope in the grace of God and an existence in a new being.
Julia, a composer and pianist, put her talent in the service of the Church at a young age already. First in her own congregation and then also at the national level as one of the initiators and organisers of an Austrian youth music camp, as well as at the European Youth Day and the International Church Convention. So far Pentecost 2017 has been the absolute highlight for her: “It was such a huge blessing that I could hardly get a grip on myself.”
With total commitment at the altar
Another person wowed the audience at the 2017 Pentecost celebrations: the Chief Apostle’s English interpreter. It was always the same question after the Pentecost service: who was that guy who worked so hard during the Pentecost service?
His name is Sam Mueller. He is 46 years old, is a Bishop, and works as a translator—a passion. He speaks English, French, German, Spanish, and also a little Cambodian. “The next thing I want to do is learn Italian and then Lingala,” one of the national languages in the Congo.
He is a family man. He is married and has two children. He loves to work in the garden when he has some time on his hands or to take long walks with his family or to write fiction. A completely normal guy, like so many others too, who devotes a lot of time and heart to his Church to help make this community something special.