Zambia and Pentecost: a marriage made in heaven

Pentecost this year was an amazing celebration: the more than one million-member strong church in Zambia showed itself from its best side: joyful, convinced, and committed. Come and join us as we take you through the Pentecost weekend—also outside the official programme.

The joy of the people to see their Chief Apostle, the District Apostles from around the world, and the Apostles from Africa was indescribable. Everywhere you looked and went people were out lining the roads while busses took the Apostles to the concert or to the divine service. There was a great deal of joyful waving, rapt expectation, and thousands of delighted faces. The bus with the guest of honour from France was given a special police escort. If the bus had been caught in a traffic jam, it would have thrown the tightly planned schedule right off.

A household name

The host, District Apostle Charles Ndandula, directed his teams discreetly but firmly. Again and again he succeeded in making the New Apostolic Church in the country practically a household name. On the most prominent corners of the city were huge posters showing a smiling Chief Apostle with an invitation to the divine service underneath. The service took place in the National Heroes Stadium. All the seats, nearly 71,000, were occupied on Pentecost morning. The area around the stadium was populated by thousands of brothers and sisters. Just about everybody was on their feet.

Pride and commitment

The people are proud to be members of the Church, something that is very conspicuous. The women wore scarves or T-shirts or hats with the Church emblem. Many of the men were wearing black suits. And then there was the music: a nod to the country’s tradition, huge numbers, excellent musicians. The strongest feeling came across when the choirs sang in Bemba, Lozi, or Swahili. It was amazing to experience with how much commitment the children, women, and men, the soloists and the instrumentalists did their thing. They sang everything by heart. Providing music folders for a choir with 3,000 voices would have been far too costly. At lunch, following the divine service, a female choir of 300 sang for the Chief Apostle and his guests in Bemba.

Powerful and convincing

The country’s president, Mr Edgar Lungu, had intended to come, but something came up so that he had to cancel. District Apostle Ndandula had invited him and other prominent politicians to the concert on Saturday afternoon. Many guests were there, and they all experienced Zambia at its best: not only powerful and convincing, but also a very high standard of music. Chief Apostle Schneider was unstinting in his praise and thanked the performers with these words, “It was a concert typical of Zambia: full of joy and the Holy Spirit! What can I say? Great!”

The Chief Apostle’s vision for Africa

The Apostles’ conference on Saturday morning was serious, jam-packed, and visionary. The Chief Apostle published his agenda for Africa: more instruction in the Church, better knowledge of the Bible in the circle of the ministers, and Sunday School for the children in every congregation. He argued with emotion and a great deal of support—in perfect English, with numerous interpretations going on in booths at the back of the conference hall. The Apostles will have grasped how important these objectives are to the Chief Apostle, and will have taken this back home with them. Already over lunch that day, there were numerous discussions going on. And the District Apostles were right in the middle of it all. They of course were overjoyed that they could be together with the Apostles from their working areas, and meet for talks and conferences over this Pentecost weekend. Nearly all Apostles from Africa were there. Only seven could not travel.

The highlight: divine service

And then Pentecost Sunday dawned: thousands and thousands of people the world over were connected. The Chief Apostle conducted the divine service in English and spoke about the coming of the Lord. At the end of the divine service he thanked the choir and orchestra effusively, clambered on the conductor’s stand and gave him a hug. There were waving hands everywhere. The joy was indescribable. As he walked back, everybody wanted to see and hug and speak to him. The stadium was boiling over with excitement.

Zambia and Pentecost: a marriage made in heaven

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Peter Johanning
Zambia, Pentecost