A church building moves brick by brick

Sure, the people of Israel often moved with their tabernacle, but it was really nothing more than a tent. How this is possible with a massive brick church, is something that the brothers and sisters in the Congo demonstrated. Here is the story of a huge joint effort.

“What are we going to do now?” Ministers and construction experts are standing around District Apostle Tshitshi Tshisekedi just a little puzzled and contemplating how they are going to handle the problem. The central church in Kananga is in a bad state of repair. Repeated flooding has led to the erosion of soil, causing massive cracks in the walls.

A fundamental problem …

Kananga is the capital of the province Kasai-Occidental and is located in the south of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The city with its population of half a million is a New Apostolic stronghold in the region. In addition to many smaller congregations, there is also a central church. But there is no money for a restoration, especially since the experts cannot guarantee that there will not be any more erosion.

One solution would not be all that far away, in the city centre. The Church owns a piece of property there in a prime location, but there is definitely no money for a new church building. The decision taken during the visit to Kananga in May 2014 was final. But something definitely had to happen.

… and a joint solution

Then the District Apostle had an idea. The construction experts considered it feasible, the regional Apostles agreed, and the members had the last word. “Sure, we are willing to roll up our sleeves and move our central church.” In essence, this was their answer when they were asked by the Church leadership.

In December 2014 things began to move. Under the guidance of experts, the members started to actually deconstruct the old church. Young and old, men and women, members and ministers alike—thousands pitched in and carried every brick and beam of their old church to its new location eight kilometres away. There was no heavy machinery; everything was done manually, and carried by hand or balanced on their heads.

An unexpected setback …

The move lasted a month and seven days. And all the while the people sang: “We always sing when we do work together. It is the best way to motivate each other,” District Apostle Tshisekedi reports. So for weeks, New Apostolic songs rang through the city’s streets. The population as well as city officials were impressed how the “Néos” set to work.

At the end of January 2015 there was a setback. The piece of land was known to be uneven, but the slope turned out to be steeper than originally planned for. But not even this could really stop the project. More sand would be needed to level the ground. So the brothers and sisters started to bring tons of sand to the site in buckets and bowls, balanced on their heads, from a pit six kilometres away.

… and the amazing result

Members also volunteered to help at the construction site, under the guidance of professional construction workers. This is how, by the end of October 2015, a new church came into being with the material from the old church. Professional construction workers and additional material that was needed were not free, but the bottom line was that the joint effort saved about 45 per cent of the costs.

“The result is amazing,” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider says. He has just come back from a visit to the new central church in Kananga, where he conducted a divine service on 17 July 2016. Some 19,000 participated in the service, most of them sitting outside the building. “It was overwhelming.” At the beginning of the service, the Chief Apostle thanked the brothers and sisters for their work and the testimony they brought.

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