I have been on and off for 12 days at the Angolan Embassy trying to get our visas. I was nowhere close to receiving them. Angola is a country that I have been trying to visit for more than 20 years. The visa application was a nightmare. It was that fine line between – is God opening a door or am I trying to kick it open. After some serious prayer I realized that I would fight to open the door. After our thick application documents were handed in I confidently greeted the visa officials only to be informed that the intricate Angolan process has been changed – we needed an online application through two agents.
It is twelve days later and I arrived at the Embassy on a hot Tuesday. We already had to cancel our flights and postpone our tickets by a week. Today was D-day! We simply had to get into ANGOLA. One more phone call and as I was by now well-known by the visa staff, Victoria greeted me with her usual comforting voice. This time she said: “Francisco …. Why are you so persistent? How quickly can you be here? I gasped for air and being caught off-guard for a moment …. I replied in British English “Dearest Madam …. I will be delighted to join you in 15 minutes.” I was an hour away but didn’t care. An African warrior and veteran, Raymond Lombard – a specialist in so many areas of ministry but a man whose heart was on fire when it comes to evangelism and church planting, were going to travel with me to address Church leaders in Angola on the Firewall Africa Project.
I quickly phoned him and with a great shout of anticipation he rushed out of his office and a meeting to meet me at the embassy. Never ever arrive at any African embassy with a short trouser, even if there is a heatwave. I was not allowed in. Raymond – dressed and ready as always was the only one allowed in. He however, decided to wait with me outside in the heat until the security guard took pity on us and allowed us in. After an hour of more administration we still waited. Three hours later the embassy closed the windows and doors. “Please come back tomorrow your visa will be ready”, they said. I could not accept this and it was words I didn’t want to hear. I planted myself on my chair and thought of Psalm 1. I shall not be moved, I thought. It was quiet in the waiting area. The only people left in the entrance were the security guard and me. Raymond had to leave as he had a Bible School of 350 students to go teach. And then God took over: The Embassy was forced to stay open for another 2 hours to finish our visa applications and I walked out with a bewildered looking security guard mumbling: “Aaaaw you go with God church man.”
DOORS WIDE OPEN
The moment we entered Angola God opened doors so wide that I could hardly believe that we had struggled to get into the beautiful country of ANGOLA. We were greeted by a huge delegation of church brothers who followed our ordeal every step of the way. Time was of the essence though as we had to work through our objectives that we felt God had laid on our hearts. Even our Chinese little pick-up van, that refused to climb a steep hill from the airport, couldn’t dampen our spirits.
Training commenced with 35 leaders as we strategized on how we would plant more than a 1000 churches over the next few months. Everything went well but we still needed ONE special contact to truly make all of this happen, as working with so many churches in one country is extremely difficult. And then God intervened up again. Through one of the bishops we made contact with Rev. Deolinda Dorcas, the Secretary-General for the Council of Churches who was amazed at what we had to offer. She was interested in leadership and as we brought the vision of the Willow creek Association that we wanted to introduce together with Church planting, she gasped for air as she said: I have been waiting for a lifetime for this to come our way, and here you are.”
I wanted to say to her, Yes Madam”, I too have been waiting 20 years! God was doing something awesome. We decided to form an active partnership in a Leadership Institute to be created by her office. The last door had opened and I realized how Satan had been actively trying to stop us from pursuing God’s plan for Angola. The lesson was simple: Never, never ever give up if God has confirmed his plan. Work where God is leading you, and you will never fail or be disappointed. 10 Hours later God handed Angola over to us! Raymond sat on his chair pondering deeply as he looked at me and said: God is good, isn’t He? We will start our first Evangelising and Church planting endeavour in September, together with Angola’s first ever Global Leadership Summit. To God be the glory!
(Written by Francois Rauch. Edited by Ray Lombard.)