The Church is staying tuned

It seems as though the whole island is excited about the upcoming weekend: the Chief Apostle will be conducting a divine service on São Tomé and Príncipe. The thought is not so far-fetched, considering that nearly ten per cent of the population is New Apostolic. The Church has not even existed there all that long…

The members in Santana (São Tomé und Príncipe) have been looking forward to the weekend of the 11th and 12th of September for weeks. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider announced his visit to the island of São Tomé.

Coffee, cocoa, and church

In the nineteenth century, the island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe was known primarily for its coffee; later, the island became the world’s largest producer of cocoa. But the New Apostolic Church is also well-known on the island. Its more than 19,000 members make up almost ten per cent of the population. There are 17 districts, 192 congregations, and 608 ministers. It all began in Germany…

In 1982 someone there had the idea to bring the New Apostolic faith to São Tomé and Príncipe. A year later, District Evangelists Armin Brinkmann and Jürgen Flassnöcker travelled to the islands which, by the way, are of volcanic origin. Through brothers and sisters in Lisbon, they had managed to get some contacts and were ready to find more. Later, when the German ministers were refused entry into the country, Apostle Sukami Landu Ronsard from Angola travelled to São Tomé and Príncipe and conducted a first divine service there in November 1985 on the Monte Café plantation. He sealed the first believers, ordained two Priests and four Deacons, thereby laying the foundation for the first congregations.

New churches and a new Apostle

Shortly thereafter Armin Brinkmann, by then an Apostle, was again granted an entry visa, and in December 1990 the Accao Nova Apostolica Caridade was officially recognised by São Tomé and Príncipe. In 1992, 1993, and 1995 Apostle Armin Brinkmann dedicated the first church buildings in Santana, Praia Micoló, and Ototó.

When Chief Apostle Wilhelm Leber came to the island in 2007, São Tomé and Príncipe received its first local Apostle. Massamba Diambu Tuku, who had stood out as a humble but committed helper during District Apostle Hermann Engelauf’s visit in 1988, was ordained as an Apostle. Apostle Diambu Tuku will be retired on 12 September after 33 years as a minister, 14 of which he served as an Apostle.

Terra Batata, a medical station, and a sports complex

The population of São Tomé and Príncipe is about 210,000 today. One in five people live from agriculture. Coffee, bananas, coconuts, and pepper are grown. But many farmers still lack the knowledge to grow organic produce and to market their products effectively. Together with IFOAM, an international organic agricultural movement, the Church, together with NAK-karitativ, is building up a farm where small-hold farmers are to be trained in organic farming. Terra Batata is the name of the 42-acre project in the middle of the subtropical rainforest and is situated at an altitude of nearly 2,000 metres. The aim is to train representatives of the farmers’ groups so that they can then pass on their knowledge to the many other farmers. At the same time, the project is a social project. Eleven families are currently earning their livelihood here by cultivating vegetables, coffee, and pepper, as well as raising pigs and laying hens.

The Chief Apostle will conduct a divine service in our church in Santana. A medical station was built on the same property a few years ago. Thanks to funds from NAK-karitativ, it has been possible to continually expand the range of medical care. In addition to general medicine, there is now also gynaecology, wound care, a medical laboratory, dental medicine, and many other medical services. Several times a week, female doctors from the municipal hospital visit the health centre. The dental clinic is the most modern in the country. Two treatment rooms and another specifically for dental cleaning are open to the public. Young people can train as dental technicians at the facility thus offering them a perspective for their professional life.

The sports complex in Água Creola was also designed with the future in mind. It was created in response to the idea of how youth care can be intensified on São Tomé und Príncipe. It will be open to all young people. A media library was set up to deepen their faith and to encourage and promote their education. This too, is open to all. This is where the Chief Apostle will be conducting a youth service on Saturday.

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