A pioneer becomes District Apostle Helper
“He is New Apostolic with all his heart,” a friend and companion says about Apostle João Uanuque Misselo. On 22 February, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider will commission Him as a District Apostle Helper for Angola. This is an opportunity to look at his life and the country he lives in.
The best person to speak to about this is no doubt District Apostle Armin Brinkmann. He is retired, but District Apostle Brinkmann not only ordained João Misselo into all the ministries from Deacon to District Elder between 1985 and 1994, but was also instrumental in building up the New Apostolic Church in Angola.
“In the beginning, there were only two believers,” District Apostle (ret.) Brinkmann remembers. “And three decades later, there are nearly 250,000 people who profess the New Apostolic faith there.”
No wonder, the pioneers of the New Apostolic Church found deeply religious people when they first came to Angola. The country looks back on a long Christian tradition. With the colonization by the Portuguese some 500 years ago, Christianity was also brought to this West African country. Before long, there was a church in every village. The Roman Catholic Church also shaped the education system.
The New Apostolic faith was also received with open arms. District Apostle Brinkmann remembers a trip to the eastern part of the country in August 1985: “When we arrived at our destination, we held divine services for hours. More and more people came, listened to us, and asked to be baptized and sealed.”
Dangers and obstacles
It was a trip with obstacles: “The borders were closed. Until 2002, life in the country was defined by civil war.” Although the conditions were chaotic, District Evangelist Manuel Eduardo Mbuta managed to get two airline tickets. And the way was clear for us to visit our future brothers and sisters.”
It was not only a period that was full of excitement and adventure, but also a period fraught with danger. In August 1989, Apostle Brinkmann and four other ministers were ambushed by rebels in northern Angola. Sukami Landu Ronsard, the first local Apostle, was so badly wounded that he died of his injuries.
Angola takes the next step
But not even this loss, as painful as it was, was able to deter and discourage the local ministers. More and more congregations were established and the membership grew steadily. In 2005, the Church even had to install an additional management level in Angola. Since then, the so-called lead Apostles─Manuel Eduardo Mbuta, João Uanuque Misselo, and Alfonso Avelino─coordinate the work of the New Apostolic Church in the various regions of the country. Today a total of 15 Apostles and 10 Bishops look after the New Apostolic Christians in more than 2,200 congregations. And growth is continuing.
A District Apostle Helper for Angola
Time for the next step, then. When Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider visits the country’s capital, Luanda, on 22 February, he will ordain a District Apostle Helper for Angola. “Apostle Misselo is the right man for the job,” District Apostle Rainer Storck says, who is now responsible for Angola. “He has a good overall picture of the situation in the country and is an excellent pastor. He is humble, but knows what he wants.”
“And his horizon extends beyond the country’s borders,” District Apostle Brinkmann adds. When he first came to Angola, where Portuguese is spoken, Armin Brinkmann encouraged the brothers to learn English. “The only one who did that was João Misselo.” This enabled him to work in the Workgroup Africa and other internationally composed work groups.
The appointment of a District Apostle Helper for the growing Church in Angola is a logical decision, District Apostle Rainer Storck emphasizes: “Apostle Misselo is still under the age of 50. The decision was made with long-term goals in mind.”