Twenty-five years ago: a fatal trip
It was an accident that unleashed shock and grief around the world: twenty-five years ago, five brothers and sisters, among them three Apostles, lost their lives in an automobile accident in Angola. A look back to commemorate the departed.
It is Saturday, 13 September 1997. Many of our brothers and sisters in Angola are filled with anticipation: the next day, the new church in Lubango is to be dedicated. For this purpose, the Apostle Armin Brinkmann from Germany, along with the five Angolan Apostles Miguel Joaquim Jadó, Paulo Kambinda, Dominque Makindu, Eduardo Mbuta, and Chicomba Rocha Tomás also make their way there.
The programme is quite full: on Friday, they celebrate a divine service in Namibe and on Saturday there is a divine service for ministers. Following this, there is a gathering with young people on the new church property. Afterward, Apostle Kambinda still needs to go and prepare some things for the next day’s dedication service. The others drive back to their accommodations in Lubango. These include Apostles Jadó, Makindu, and Mbuta, along with their wives, Apostles Rocha Tomás and Brinkmann, the wife of Apostle Kambinda, District Evangelist Ndofunso Toko and a cameraman. Their chauffeur is a Deacon.
They are driving along a paved street that is still a little damp from a recent downpour, when a vehicle comes toward them on a left-hand bend. The Deacon swerves to avoid it, causing the rear of the vehicle to slide outward. The driver is no longer able to control the vehicle, and the car rolls over. A broken screw on the steering column is later suspected to be the cause. “All we could hear was an infernal din of metal, screams, and shattering glass”—so writes Apostle Brinkmann to the Chief Apostle a short time later.
He himself is not as seriously injured, crawls to freedom, and helps Apostle Mbuta, who is still conscious, despite a broken upper arm. They are confronted with a horrific scene: Apostles Jadó and Rocha Tomás, as well as District Evangelist Toko have been thrown from the vehicle and are no longer alive. Mayola Wampuna Mbuta, also known as Jacky, is trapped under the car. With the help of some people who come running, the two Apostles are able to rescue her, but Apostle Mbuta is unable to revive his wife. Apostle Makindu also dies at the scene of the accident. The others are seriously injured.
Grief overshadows a joyful celebration
The dedication service on the following day, which is supposed to have been a celebration of joy, is instead observed with deep mourning. News of the accident had already been broadcast by radio throughout Angola the evening before.
On Monday, 19 September, the funeral service is held in the church in Luanda-Palanga. District Apostle Horst Ehlebracht bases the sermon on a passage from Revelation 14: 13: “‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works follow them.” Apostle Brinkmann paid tribute to the Apostles, all of whom he had sealed and known for years. “I knew all of the dead and the survivors well. We were sisters and brothers and friends,” he relates twenty-five years after the accident.
Apostle Chicomba Rocha Tomás
Apostle Chicomba Rocha Tomás was only 34 years of age. He left behind a wife and four children. Chicomba Rocha Tomás was born on 30 January in Luau. His parents were poor, which meant that he was not able to attend secondary school. Nevertheless, he found employment as a typesetter's assistant in a cartographic institute. When he returned from his military service in 1983, he was astonished to find that his mother and siblings were regularly attending the divine services of the New Apostolic Church. So it was that he began to accompany them, and became New Apostolic himself soon afterward. On 4 September 1994 he became an Apostle.
Apostle Miguel Joaquim Jadó
Apostle Miguel Joaquim Jadó was only 43 years old. He was survived by his wife and four children, who had all become New Apostolic with him on 7 March 1984. The Apostle, who was born on 15 March 1954 in Maquele, lived with his parents in neighbouring Zaïre (present-day Democratic Republic of Congo) for a time, owing to the civil war, and it was there that he completed an agricultural apprenticeship. Once back in Angola, his old friend Sukami Ronsard acquainted him with the New Apostolic faith. It came as a severe blow for him when he learned that Ronsard had been killed in a robbery on 27 August 1989. On 12 November 1989, he himself was ordained an Apostle.
Apostle Dominique Makindu
Apostle Dominique Makindu died just a few days before his 45th birthday on 17 August. He was survived by his wife Helena, his seven daughters, and his son. Dominique Makindu was born into a Christian home. Through his brother and his good friend Miguel Jadó he became acquainted with the New Apostolic Church, and joined it on 22 August 1984. In 1988 he began to work exclusively for the Church and served many congregations in Northern Angola, which were often only accessible by way of long marches on foot.
Twenty-five years later
Today, twenty-five years after the accident, retired District Apostle Armin Brinkmann still remembers the departed well: “Apostle Makindu was the brother of the first Sub-deacon sealed in Angola by Apostle Schwarzer and he worked in the extreme north of the country. Apostle Jadó was always joyful, a real motivator, who built up and led the large district of Uige in the north. Apostle Rocha Tomás worked in the east of the country. He was loyal and very conscientious. Not to be forgotten, the wife of Apostle Mbuta was a great support in the work of the “Mamas”. Without our sisters, the work in Angola would not have been possible. Jacky Mbuta accomplished great things in this work. District Evangelist Toko, who died in my arms, was a loyal, humble, and loving minister.”