“No, I am not afraid. I trust in God”
On Sunday, 19 April 2015, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider celebrated a divine service in Dodoma, the national capital of Tanzania. On this occasion, he placed District Apostle Shadreck Lubasi into retirement and ordained Joseph Opemba Ekhuya (45) as his successor, and commissioned him to lead the New Apostolic Church East Africa as District Apostle. A few weeks before this change, the two Apostles gave nac.today an interview.
nac.today: District Apostle Lubasi, you have been working with your designated successor, Joseph Ekhuya, for two years. How is the collaboration with him? How close are you?
District Apostle Lubasi: We are actually almost like one. We share the same views and opinions in many things. If there is something that he may not know I try by all means to inform him. He is very cooperative.
nac.today: Do you share an office?
District Apostle Lubasi: No, we each have our own office. But we discuss all the things that we need to. We talk to and consult with each other almost every day. We discuss upcoming ordinations, for example. And we talk about the potential for improvements within the Church here in East Africa.
nac.today: And you, Apostle Ekhuya, have managed to get a better idea of the work of the District Apostle over the last few months? What are your impressions? Are you looking forward to it?
District Apostle Helper Ekhuya: Well, it is not an easy job from what I have seen, but I trust in the Lord. He will provide the necessary wisdom and help.
nac.today: You are not afraid then?
District Apostle Helper Ekhuya: No, I am not afraid. I trust in God.
nac.today: Will there be things that you first have to get used to or things that surprised you because you thought they would be different?
District Apostle Helper Ekhuya: Yes, of course there are some challenges and things that surprised me, especially when it comes to the relationship to the congregations and the ministers. My horizons have expanded greatly in this regard.
nac.today: Quite a number of languages are spoken in your district apostle area. Does this pose a challenge?
District Apostle Helper Ekhuya: The linguistic diversity is not a big challenge, because we all speak Kiswahili and English, and that is sufficient. There are always translations as well, if needed.
“The people are in a kind of competition with each other.”
nac.today: And you, District Apostle, were there particular challenges during your time as District Apostle in coordinating the three countries of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda? Where are the differences between these countries as far as the people are concerned?
District Apostle Lubasi: Well, in East Africa there is stiff competition in terms of the country’s economies. Every country wants to be better than the other. The people are in a kind of competition with each other. That also applies to the Church to a certain extent in that there are prejudices. Many people would rather be independent. And when you unite them and choose one of them as a leader, it becomes a problem.
nac.today: Does everyone accept you as District Apostle?
District Apostle Lubasi: Yes, but because I am not from East Africa. I came from outside, so I am a foreigner.
nac.today: And you, Apostle Ekhuya, how do you see this? Will you be accepted?
District Apostle Helper Ekhuya: Yes! The past two years as District Apostle Helper have really helped me. I travelled around in Uganda, Tanzania, and here in Kenya and met all the Apostles and spoke with them. So that has helped in reducing the difficulties with relationships.
“His competence is important.”
nac.today: There are many ethnic groups and languages in East Africa. What does that mean for the work of the Church?
District Apostle Helper Ekhuya: In Kenya there are 42 ethnic groups, in Uganda 19, and in Tanzania even 120, and all have their own languages and cultures.
District Apostle Lubasi: When it comes to the work in our Church I don’t look at who comes from where. The first thing I look at is competence. Is he able to deliver? If this is the case, then I am happy if he comes from the same area in which he is intended to work. It is an added benefit, but important first of all is his competence.
District Apostle Helper Ekhuya: Currently, things are working quite well. It so happens that at the moment with the distribution of the leaders, most ethnic groups are represented.
nac.today: What do you wish your successor for the future?
District Apostle Lubasi: I wish him success and strength, because I know that there will be people who will say that he is my “son”, that he comes from here, and that that is why we favoured him. He is the District Apostle for the whole of East Africa, and his work must reflect that.
Joseph Opemba Ekhuya (45) has been responsible for the New Apostolic Church in East Africa since 19 April 2015. On completing his studies at university, he went to Rwanda and afterwards to the Seychelles in his profession as a land surveyor. He was also in Mozambique for four years. He came back to Kenya, and in 2010 was appointed as the managing director of KUMEA (Kujenga Maisha East Africa), the newly formed aid organization of the New Apostolic Church East Africa. He lives in Nairobi in Kenya. He is married and the father of three children. He speaks Luhya, Kiswahili, and English. The New Apostolic Church East Africa is comprised of the countries Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. There are 38 Apostles who are assisted by an additional 17,500 ministers.