A new era in East Africa
His profession is land surveyor. As leading pastor and shepherd of the New Apostolic Church East Africa, Joseph Opemba Ekhuya now has a large field of activity to see to. Last weekend he was ordained as District Apostle for the region. But there were more ministerial gifts for the region.
Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider’s stay in East Africa lasted four days: most of it was in Tanzania. But he also stopped off on the island of Zanzibar. Crowning the trip was the divine service on Sunday, 19 April in Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania, where the new District Apostle was ordained. The divine service was broadcast on national television in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
District Apostle Helper since 2013
Joseph Opemba Ekhuya was born in December 1969 in Kenya to New Apostolic parents. He is the first of seven children. On completing school and his studies he went into land surveying, a profession that also took him to Kenya, Mozambique, and the Seychelles. In the year 2010, he was appointed as the managing director of KUMEA (Kujenga Maisha East Africa), the aid organization of the New Apostolic Church East Africa.
In January 2000, he was ordained as a Priest. It was his first ministry in the Church. In February 2011, then, he was ordained as an Apostle by Chief Apostle Wilhelm Leber. In July 2013, Chief Apostle Schneider appointed him as a District Apostle Helper. The new District Apostle lives in Nairobi in Kenya and is married. He speaks Luhya, Kiswahili, and English.
Leading the District Apostle area into independence
District Apostle Shadreck Lubasi was placed into retirement by the Chief Apostle during the divine service in Dodoma. Over nearly 30 years, he had carried various ministries in the Church. In March 2009 he was ordained as a District Apostle and assumed the management of the newly established and independent district. Until then, the district comprised of Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda had been in the care of the New Apostolic Church USA. Currently, 17,500 ministers care for some 650,000 members in 6,400 congregations.
Already on Friday, 17 April, Chief Apostle Schneider had placed two Apostles into retirement in southern Tanzania. Wilson Abnel Mtiga (64), who became New Apostolic in 1983 and had been ordained as a Priest in the same year. He served as an Apostle for nearly 17 years. Also retired was Elias Ambokile Mwaaisaka (67), who was baptized and sealed in 1989. In the same year he was ordained as a Deacon. He received the Apostle ministry in 2006.
Five new Apostles with four different mother tongues
In the divine service on Friday in the city of Mbeya, the Chief Apostle ordained five new Apostles: Watson Kalyembe (50), Emmanuel Paulo Macheho (48), and Hamisi Elisha Meleine (41) from Tanzania, and Nicholas Oso Lorua (40) and John Njun Sire (40) from Kenya. All except District Elder Sire from Kenya had been Bishops.
Although all five speak English, the men’s background and their mother tongues give a good idea of the cultural diversity found in the District Apostle area. The languages they grew up with are Nyakyusa, Turkana, Gogo, and Masai.