April 2020 heralded a milestone for Brunstad Christian Church (BCC) conferences in Africa. Conferences are normally held annually in Cameroon, Kenya (with participants from Tanzania and Uganda also attending), Malawi, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), during the months of April and May. However, this year the Covid-19 pandemic had a direct impact on the conferences scheduled to take place during this period. As a result of the international travel ban and stringent restrictions on the gathering of people throughout the world, the conferences had to be cancelled. Yet, in the face of the pessimism and fear sweeping across the globe, an alternative way of holding the conferences was set in motion.
The possibility of holding an online conference on one of the Google Meet platforms was explored as an option, and the team in South Africa took up the challenge and got working on how this could be done. The technicalities of connecting 170 devices to an online meeting platform with equipment and connections that could handle two-way camera and voice recordings without relaying delays, was certainly a challenge. But through prayer and determination, the team managed to overcome all the obstacles and an international online conference in Africa became a reality.
This meant that the members of BCC fellowships in Africa could simultaneously participate in an interactive online conference in their homes, thereby receiving spiritual edification through God’s spoken Word, bringing hope and encouragement despite the pandemic. The small technical difficulties that arose during the online church services, were dealt with in inventive ways by the technical team, making the transmissions better and better as the conference proceeded. As the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians in the New Testament of the Bible: “I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.” (Phil. 1:12.) Despite the hardships and very negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been the catalyst which necessitated alternatives to be found for the furtherance of the gospel.
The conference which was held over the weekend of the 25th – 26th April, consisted of five online church services, including a Sunday School and youth service. Uplifting spiritual songs were sung by participants from a number of the fellowships, and it was most heartwarming for everyone to see as well as hear the musicians. Besides the edifying sermons preached and testimonies given, due to online time constraints, participants were encouraged to post their written testimonies on a dedicated Telegram group for others to read. The response was overwhelming, many expressing their thankfulness for being able to be part of the online conference to receive help and encouragement through God’s word preached so clearly. Some of these written testimonies have been included below.
Of course everyone longs to be together and to have fellowship between services as they would in normal circumstances. Be that as it may, being able to be part of an online ‘gathering’ simultaneously, is something that was not possible before and it brought forth a special unity in spirit amongst BCC members from so many diverse African countries.
Gibson Mzumazi (Malawi): “I am extremely thankful for this opportunity that I can be part of this online conference and many thanks to those who are working extremely hard to make this possible. I really want to meditate on the things I heard during this conference; the verse that has meant a lot to me in this time is from Hebrews 4:16.”
Beauty Mkundika (Malawi): “I thank God for what I heard during the conference. It has become clear to me that righteousness is for those with a pure heart and that the eyes of God are on the righteous.”
Estelle Laure Kalachi (Cameroon): “I am very grateful for this conference and for all the work done to make it possible. My desire is to be closer and closer to God throughout my life and to have faith that God is in control of everything for me. I also want to be fair, humble and generous.”
Mike Rolf Onyango (Kenya): “I am extremely thankful for the online conference and for what we heard about righteousness. I want to practice God’s righteousness in my daily life and stop with all self-righteousness.”
Purity Nyagweth (Kenya): “I am very thankful for what I have heard during the conference. May God help me so that I can humble myself, be still and listen to His voice and put into practice what I have heard. I want God’s Word to guide my life in everything I do, say and think. Thank you so much for the conference.”
Peluce Katusabe (Uganda): “I am very grateful for what I could hear from this conference and I really want to take it seriously so that I can live a righteous life and also use this time well.”
Rachel Tcheumwa (Cameroon): “I am extremely thankful for this time and also this conference. I have decided to keep my thoughts on God and not to live by my feelings. I want to put all my trust in God in every situation in my daily life.”
Bernard Ndeme (Cameroon): “Thank you for this special time we could come together for the online conference. Thanks for the word of God spoken so clearly. My longing is to remain faithful to what God is working in me, not my feelings and my own righteousness.”
Solveig Cousins (South Africa): “I am very thankful for the times we live in, and for those who are behind the scenes driving the technology to enable online conferencing, exactly at the right time. I am thankful for this conference and that I could be along with so many from all over Africa. It became clear to me during this conference that I can go to Jesus and ask Him to help me to lead a life pleasing to Him.”
Cobus van Niekerk (South Africa): “I’m thankful to be able to hear the word of God so clearly and in this manner. My own faith was strengthened to hear such a simple message about righteousness. I will continue to seek God’s will and practice righteousness in every aspect of my life. Thank you to everyone who contributed to making this weekend possible.”
Dan Bope (DRC): “I’m extremely thankful for this wonderful weekend we had and for the opportunity God gave me to hear His word. I have to listen to what God has spoken to me and be obedient to His will and be closer to Him. May God bless you all.”
Fabrice Kalachi Tsakou (DRC): “I’m very very thankful for this time and God’s grace over my life so that I can be strengthened in my spirit.”