Together we are strong

Love, friendship, and sharing the same faith… These are things that make us strong. And this is something that brothers and sisters from all generations and walks of life were able to experience in various countries over the past few weeks. Together in Christ still applies even if the year is almost over.

Making friends

On Saturday, 15 October 2022 young people from various congregations of the Buffalo City district in South Africa came together for a memorable weekend outing to Hobbiton Outdoor Education Centre. After a prayer, a meet-and-greet session, and a delicious breakfast they started their outdoor programme. The activities included outdoor endurance and personal development activities, as well as team building exercises. They learned to face fears, and to trust and respect each other. Later in the afternoon, they all gathered in the hall for choir practice in preparation for Sunday’s service. This was followed by an evening of singing and dancing while preparing a scrumptious braai for dinner. On Sunday morning, the service was conducted by a Priest, after which the young people played a few games and then set off to explore a nearby waterfall. The weekend concluded with a delicious lunch.

That same weekend, the children, parents, and teachers of the congregations Villa Ballester and Parque Patricios in Argentina met for a children’s service—each congregation separately. The churches had been colourfully decorated and there were welcome signs and sweets for the children. Apostles Pablo Basso and Jorge Franco based the services on Mark 10: 16: “And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.” The Apostles asked the children, “What makes a good friend?” Their answers were influenced by everyday life and also by faith: “That he prays for me.” or, “That He helps me with my homework.” The children learned that Jesus can be their best friend because He is always there for them.

A ray of hope in the war

Ukraine is still in a state of emergency since Russia invaded the country back in late February. But even there something as special as love is happening. Maria and Vladislav had met before the war. He kept inviting her to the New Apostolic Church. She felt at home there and especially so because of Vladislav. So the couple decided to get married despite, or because of, the terrible situation in their homeland. The wedding was on 17 July. “I cannot put into words the energy that I felt in the church. When the District Elder took my hand during the blessing, a warmth flowed through me as if God Himself was taking my hand,” Maria shared afterwards.

Seniors on tour

In three different parts of the world, groups of seniors came together to enjoy each other’s company. The bus for the seniors from the Heidelberg district in Germany left early in the morning, at 6.15 a.m. Their destination was the Palatinate, a forested area. First, they stopped in Hauenstein, a town known for its many shoe stores, then they were given a bus tour on which they could marvel at some of the beautiful natural scenery. They stopped at a vineyard where they were given a tour through the vineyards in a covered wagon. On the way, the vintner entertained the group with trivia and anecdotes about viticulture as the group tucked into fresh farmhouse bread and a glass or two of chilled wine. After some delicious ice cream, the excursion came to an end in the evening.

The seniors of the Strasbourg district in France met in Erstein for their first outing since the end of the pandemic. The group gathered in a banquet hall for a divine service, which also served to prepare the way for the divine service for the departed the Sunday after. Then the seniors were treated to lunch by the youth. For starters, they were served an aperitif, which was followed by some delicious food. The day ended with old and young sitting together enjoying each other’s company.

The seniors of the Erica East congregation in South Africa also met for a divine service. Evangelist Martin Mullins conducted a special divine for them on 29 October, which he based on Psalm 71: 18: “Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.” The take-home message for the seniors was: God’s blessing lies in salvation, not in a happy life; we trust God, even if others think He has abandoned them; we need God’s help even if we have gathered a wealth of experience over the years. They were also given a task to take home: to teach the next generation about God’s love and to make sacrifices.

Confirmation camps weld together

Enhancing the spiritual preparation of the final year confirmands and strengthening their understanding of the fundamental principles of the New Apostolic faith: this was the idea behind confirmation camps of the congregations of the Fernwood Park district and the Gelvandale district in South Africa. Eighty-one confirmands from the Gelvandale district travelled to Sumcay Camp Centre with their teachers on 14 October. Two weeks later, the 64 confirmands from the Fernwood Park district headed to the same camp. The young people had lots of fun. The activities included a Tik Tok challenge, games, swimming, and singing. In a morning devotion, they repeated what they had learned in confirmation classes. In each case, a divine service formed the conclusion.