Last minute cancellation of pastoral trip
The Chief Apostle’s trip to Zambia and the DR Congo has been cancelled. He will not be able to travel there. He is very disappointed, but what pains him the most is the disappointment of the brothers and sisters. He is well acquainted with the conditions of the members there.
“I have the tickets: I am ready to go!” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider said after the Pentecost service when he announced that he will resume his pastoral trips in July. After almost one and a half years of pandemic-related restrictions he was focusing on a number of pastoral trips to countries outside of Europe.
These visits are not only important to him as Church leader, but above all as shepherd of a worldwide congregation. He wants to be close to his brothers and sisters, listen to their concerns and needs, give comfort, instill confidence, pray together with them, and celebrate Holy Communion.
One city as an example
In addition to the divine service for the departed in Zambia, the Chief Apostle had also planned to visit the two districts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. One stop on his trip would have been in Mbuji-Mayi in the south of the country, a city whose fate he is familiar with from his time as District Apostle.
“It was a thriving city,” the Chief Apostle reported last Sunday, as he conducted the divine service in Velbert in Germany instead. The region has been hit by a number of crises in recent years, he told the members in Germany. “It’s paralysed. People have nothing any more.” And on top of that they have to deal with Covid-19. “Forget about vaccinations, they are hardly available.” People just die.
Chief Schneider had made plans to travel to the south-eastern part of the DR Congo in 2020 already, but because of travel restrictions he had had to cancel his trip. “We were really hoping for 2021.” And every step taken in this direction was enthusiastically commented: “He has his plane ticket”, “he just received his visa”, “we already had a preparatory service”.
“On Saturday he received the news: forget everything.” Zambia and DR Congo have been designated as high-risk areas, travel is no longer allowed. “You can’t imagine what the brothers and sisters are feeling now.”
Holding on to their faith
“This is only one example. I could name many others,” said the Chief Apostle on Sunday in Velbert. “There are so many, many disappointments for which we have no answer.” “But”, he said, “our faith tells us that God loves us in spite of all of this. Let us hold on this faith.”
A video service has already been planned for the churches in Zambia and South Africa for this coming Sunday. It will be broadcast from the administrative headquarters of the New Apostolic Church International in Zurich in Switzerland. It will include a special commemoration of the departed.
“Many in our congregations have lost loved ones to Covid-19,” Chief Apostle Schneider told nac.today. He is certain: “The Holy Spirit will encourage and comfort us. God will accompany us and provide us with everything we need so that we can enter His glory. This is what we want to pray for—with and for each other.”
Photo: ENA DR Congo / During his last visit to Mbuji-Mayi, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider received a warm welcome.