“This is my agenda for Africa”
An Apostle Meeting such as this has never occurred before in the New Apostolic Church. This is not only due to the fact that nearly all the Apostles of Africa have assembled in one place. On this occasion, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider also set some goals for the development of the Church on this continent.
The Apostle Meeting that coincided with the Pentecost 2015 celebration in Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia, was attended by over 250 participants, as the Chief Apostle noted with deep gratitude. There were only seven Apostles who were unable to attend. Because they come from countries where there is still a risk of Ebola, they were unable to secure entry permits.
A starting beat with emotional intercessions
The prayer at the start of the Apostle Meeting was emotional and stirring: Chief Apostle Schneider interceded especially for the many congregations on the African continent. He also remembered the many thousands of ministers, the many members in difficult situations, and he also prayed especially for the people who comprise the population of Zambia, as there are still so many adversities in their lives.
The Church leader also had some words to share concerning his predecessors in ministry: Chief Apostle Richard Fehr had had his joy in seeing this large circle of Apostles, he stressed. And Chief Apostle Leber had also written a message of greeting to them the day before.
A growing Church with growing challenges
At present there are 234 Apostles in total who work on the African continent. Another 119 Apostles work in other parts of the world. This means that the emphasis of pastoral care lies in Africa, which is home to 80 per cent of the world’s New Apostolic membership. It is here that the Church is still growing, as attested by the statistics. Chief Apostle Schneider thanked his brothers for their many tireless efforts.
The Apostle ministry is a ministry of commitment, of work, and of devotion, emphasized the Chief Apostle. There are many journeys to make, many challenges to master. He wrote into their hearts that the important thing in all of this is to keep an eye out for the future. He explained some points in greater detail.
Miracles and miracle healers
There are people who need miracles in order to believe in God. Holy Scripture is jam-packed with such accounts. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, also performed many miracles. “A miracle is a sign of the omnipotence of God,” explained the Chief Apostle. He listed a number of biblical miracles, for example, when Jesus fed the multitudes, raised the dead, and cast out demons. “But in the end,” said the Church leader, “only those who believed in Him as the Son of God remained with Jesus—and not because of the miracles He performed.”
“Today we no longer need miracles in order to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” he called out to the Apostles. He then went on to remind them of the words recorded in Hebrews 11: 1, namely that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The miracles which Jesus—and later His Apostles—performed only occurred in order to demonstrate the power of God, and in order to direct their eyes to the gospel.
The search for miracles brings with it the danger of trying to tempt God! The fact, however, is that Jesus also refused to perform miracles on a number of occasions. He did not fulfil all wishes, but rather placed value upon the faith of the individual. “Belief in miracles is a sign of lacking humbleness,” concluded the Chief Apostle. “Human beings are not greater than God! And we cannot prescribe to Him what He is to do, or at what point in time He is to do it! We are all merely servants of the Lord.”
Education has priority
The Chief Apostle spent a large part of the morning talking about the education system in Africa. Education is on the increase in Africa. “The education of our members is growing steadily, not only in the larger cities, but also in the smaller towns and even in the rural areas.”
“This also has its effects on our education system within the Church,” he emphasized. Religious education must therefore also increase, especially in the circle of the ministers, be it in biblical knowledge or instruction in preaching. His wish for the congregations: Sunday School in every congregation, in the bush, in the countryside, everywhere. “I ask you, my dear Apostles, to please make a priority of these tasks: instruct the ministers, and establish Sunday School for children in all congregations.”
“This is my agenda for Africa. I am aware that it is demanding, but I also believe that with God nothing is impossible! God will bless your work and respond to your prayers!” With these words, the Chief Apostle closed this memorable first Apostle Meeting of all the Apostles of Africa.
You can find everything concerning the Pentecost 2015 celebration in Zambia in the Pentecost folder.