Brazzaville, Congo Gospel Campaign
** Important Announcement **
It is with heavy hearts we have to inform you that due to circumstances beyond our control, we have to postpone our upcoming gospel campaign in Brazzaville, the Congo.
This has come about because our convoy of four eighteen-wheeler trucks carrying all the equipment for the event have, during the 3,300km journey to get there, had to pass through an area of civil unrest and the national military there established many security measures that resulted in weeks of delays.
They are now safely past the area, but with over 1,600km still to go, they will just not arrive in time for the event.
Please pray with us for the rest of their journey to Brazzaville, the Congo where the trucks will be parked in readiness for the new gospel campaign date which is yet to be announced.
Yours in the Harvest,
Evangelist Daniel Kolenda
(Together with the CfaN Ministry Team)
Brazzaville, Congo - June 2018
The capital city of the ‘Republic of the Congo’, Brazzaville, lies to the interior on the banks of the Pool Malebo, an enormous, sea-like extension of the Congo, the second-longest river in Africa. Kinshasa, the capital of the neighbouring country, the ‘Democratic Republic of Congo’, is situated on the shore directly opposite. As the Congo is only navigable above the Pool Malebo, a 510km railway line was built here in colonial times between 1924 and 1934.
The Republic of the Congo lies on both sides of the equator, and therefore has a typical tropical climate with two rainy seasons (January to May, and October to mid-December). More than half of the country is covered in tropical rain forests.
This country, which has a surface area of roughly the same size as Germany, is very thinly populated. There are just over 5 million Congolese people.
Even though most of the population describe themselves as Christian (with about 40% of them Catholic), there are widespread problems in Africa with the mixing of Biblical teaching with old, ‘traditional’ belief systems, ancestor worship and so on. Some sources state that over 40% of the population still believe in pagan animism.
Sometimes people ask us why we go to towns or regions where we’ve gone to preach the Gospel in the past
There are so many children being born that the average age in these countries is astonishingly low. In the Republic of the Congo, it’s only 16.8 years (in comparison: in France, it’s about 40 and in Germany it’s 45). That means that more than half of all the people there are children or teenagers. A completely new generation is growing up – and it’s for them that the salvation message must be declared anew. That’s what Jesus has called us to.
Please pray with us for:
- Good advertising and word-of-mouth information
- The removal of all obstacles that would stop people from visiting
- Spiritual unity between and with the participating churches, pastors and leaders
- Favour with the local authorities, officials, politicians, media etc.The training of huge numbers of local counsellors and ushers
- The regional committees and their work (radio advertising, intercession, organisation and much more)
- The technical team, setup and operation of the stage, sound system, giant LED screens, generators, speaker towers, lighting systems etc.
- Protection and security for the team, the local helpers and all visitors
- Good health (protection from malaria and other tropical diseases)
- Good weather (no rain or strong winds, no excessive heat)
- Many thousands of genuine, deep, lasting and life-changing conversions
- Healings, signs and wonders, following the declaration of the Word of God in confirmation
- The liberation of people who are caught in animism, witchcraft, sorcery, ancestor worship, the occult and any other powers of darkness
- Countless people to be filled with the Holy Spirit
- The follow-up work, so that new Christians may quickly find a spiritual home in a good fellowship in their area
Thank you so much for your help!
Africa shall be saved!
What does it mean for our tech team to 'just drive' to the Congo?
3,300 km of driving and sweating for the Gospel…
In the coming weeks, we’ll be putting on two very exciting campaigns in the Republic of the Congo. In June, we’ll be in the capital, Brazzaville and at the beginning of August, in the harbour town of Pointe-Noire (the campaigns were originally planned the other way around, which is why we’ve already told you about Pointe-Noire).
We absolutely believe that the Lord has called us to preach the Gospel there during our summer months. But what does that really entail? What does it mean for our tech team to “just drive” to the Congo? In this letter, I’d like to give you a glimpse behind the scenes.
As you may know, our West African headquarters is in Lagos, Nigeria. Winfried Wentland, CfaN’s Field Director, is responsible for the organisation of our “trek,” made up of 4 trucks and an off-road backup vehicle. He drives one of the trucks himself and due to his vast experience on African roads, he knows that this route through 4 countries is a massive challenge for the people and the equipment. A team of 13 co-workers is travelling with him, including a new team member, Markus Ahrnke, for whom a trip of this kind is a first, although he was with us in action in Calabar.
The long journey begins in Lagos, in Nigeria’s gigantic metropole. The planning and organisation of all the customs and visa formalities – the transport, cargo, safety and shipping questions foremost – is often much more complicated than one can imagine, and brings a tremendous cost in time and patience. Everything must be sorted by the 12th of May, because that’s when the loading begins, a painstakingly accurate job that takes years of experience and much careful planning. A huge amount of sensitive technical equipment – in which you may well have invested – must be safely and efficiently packed.
Amongst other thing, there are several generators to provide electricity, along with all their cables and accessories. Then there are the light masts and lights for the campaign field, as well as lights for the video cameras on stage. Add to that the entire stage with scaffolding, sections and flooring, as well as the open-air sound system with its two 12-meter-high aluminium sound towers and everything that goes with them (including 45 loudspeakers, steel rigging, winches and various mixing boards).
Since November 2017, we now also have the jumbo LED screens with their entire scaffolding and the extensive technical equipment required to run them. This takes a whole truck of its own to transport it. And we can’t leave the camera crane behind, along with all the video equipment, not to mention a vast quantity of work materials, tools, air conditioners and groceries.
And then there’s something of special importance that has to be taken with us, something vital for every CfaN campaign: hundreds of thousands of follow-up booklets; “Now That You Are Saved,” this time mostly in French.
The route begins in the Nigerian interior, going roughly 800 km east, and then South for about 2,000 km through Cameroon and Gabon. The team is expected to arrive in the capital city of the Republic of the Congo, Brazzaville, at the end of May, where they will prepare and set up everything in time for the CfaN campaign from 7 – 10 June. There are only 5 million residents in the country, although it is almost as big as Germany in area.
From the 11th of June, after the event – 3 days of Fire Conference for pastors and leaders and 4 days of evangelism – everything must be taken apart and packed up again. They’ll take the equipment about 520 km west to the harbour city of Pointe-Noire, where the next CfaN campaign takes place at the beginning of August, and store it there. In the meantime, in mid-June, after more than a month in the field, the CfaN crew will fly home.
For this trip, we’ve arranged something extra special for you.
Greg Vandenberg will be joining the crew as our photographer, cameraman and blogger, to report on the entire 3,300 km journey. We’ll be posting his observations, videos, photos and stories on our CfaN website and on Facebook. Don’t miss this!
Experience a thrilling trip through Africa – practically live!
Winfried says: “It will be a tough trip that will make big demands on all of us – including the vehicles. We’ll be underway with more than 150 tons of cargo. This is no pleasure cruise or fun safari. It’s exhausting, dusty work!”
Every time you support CfaN with your donations – and no gift is too small or insignificant to us – you’re helping to carry the burden of ensuring that we can load our technical gear up once again, putting equipment, co-workers and materials on the road to the African mission field.
Winfried knows all about the events and how important the careful management of donations is: “For the team, there’s no ‘holiday feeling’ attached to going on trips like this, and we certainly don’t just do it for the sake of adventure. We are all utterly convinced that through our work each time, hundreds of thousands of people will accept Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. That’s what drives us, and it’s what makes all the effort and sweat worth it!”
It’s especially in these Summer weeks, when most people are planning their vacations and putting money aside for them, that CfaN experiences a “Summer slump”. But this is exactly when we’re faced with the costs for the June and August campaigns. So, if it’s possible for you to jump in and help financially during this time, it would be a great blessing to us.
Please help us to make sure that the work of Winfried and his technical team in the Republic of Congo is a rousing success for the Kingdom of God when Peter and I preach the Gospel – clearly and without compromise – in this wonderful and unusual country this Summer. It’s another step toward fulfilling the grand vision, that all of Africa shall be saved!
Together with you in Jesus,
P.S. Our heartfelt thanks, if you’re able to help us reverse that “Summer slump.”
Please pray for Winfried and his team:
- Protection from potholes, accidents and dangerous situations on the journey
- Swift and problem-free border crossings (Cameroon, Gabon, Republic of the Congo)
- Setting up of the stage, sound system, generators, sound towers, light masts etc.
- Protection from all attacks (including spiritual) and technical difficulties
- Good weather: no rain or strong wind, no excessive heat or dust, no weather that prevents people from attending the meetings
- And please pray for the timely manifestation of the vital financial provision for the campaigns in Pointe-Noire and Brazzaville
3,300km from Nigeria to the Congo
See the latest below:
June 1st - Day 19
We still have a vital job to do!
Everyone is dealing with the news of the Brazzaville campaign postponement in their own way, and the team keeps each other’s spirits up with the kind of interaction born of good humour and shared faith in our mission. We still have a job to do, and that is to get these trucks to Congo, for the next Great Gospel Campaign. We are undeterred. Please keep praying for us. There is still a long way to go.
We are still camping in Yaoundé until the next set of papers comes through. I personally had a very unpleasant encounter with a rotten coconut and have now learnt to smell them first! After a few hilarious hours of filling water tanks, some of us went on a shopping expedition to buy groceries, and the sight of six men on two little motorbikes was priceless. We then cooked up a feast on our campfire, helped along by some compressed air from one of the trucks. These guys have done this before, and it shows. The sharing of stories and general banter around supper is truly a privilege to be a part of. As night fell, we set up tents just in time to shelter from the daily deluge that was on its way, the sounds and sights of this amazing city all around us.
May 31st - Day 18
A hot shower is a wonderful thing!
Last night, after finally making it to the city, we had the utter joy of our first hot shower in 8 days. Let me tell you, a group of men in the tropics without running water for that long gets very stinky! We woke up fresh and clean, greeted by the bustling sounds of the capital of Cameroon, Yaoundé. We busied ourselves with various laundry (lots of laundry!) and maintenance jobs whilst waiting for even more paperwork to be processed for us to continue. These endless delays are very worrying, and there is a growing sense of concern over whether it’s even possible to still make it in time for the campaign in Brazzaville. We know that it’s in the Lord’s hands, and we ask you to keep praying for us “without ceasing”. A torrential rainstorm in the afternoon was a welcome relief from the ever-present heat, and I caught up with some of the guys while they were preparing a typical meal of fresh, local food.
May 30th - Day 17
Blowouts and burning rubber
What a joy it was to get up bright and early this morning, and drive with nothing holding us back. The convoy was unstoppable. We had a lot of ground to cover, and the crew were convinced we could make it from the moment we left. Yaoundé was just a few miles away, it seemed. An hour’s stop for diesel and we were rolling again. The obligatory roadblocks held us as usual. However, it didn’t dampen our spirits, and we made Yaoundé TODAY! Apparently, there is more paperwork to do, and our General, Winfried Wentland, rose to the task and secured our place to stay tonight. Yaoundé is a beautiful city, full of the vibrancy that is transforming Africa. We are very glad to have reached this milestone, especially after all the drama it took to get here. Watch today’s video for a glimpse of how tough these driving conditions are for the trucks and the team.
May 29th - Day 16
Mountains, boiling brakes and bursting tyres
Today began with us waking at our roadside camp spot where the roadblock pulled us off last night. The crew spent the morning doing laundry and odd repairs. I had a great little adventure taking a ride on one of the local taxi motorbikes into town to change money (see photos). My driver was highly educated and well spoken. It was great fun and a nice change from the endless waiting.
Around lunchtime, some policemen and Winfried went into town - and an hour later returned with our papers to continue! Hallelujah! Unfortunately, we headed down the wrong road for 20 km and had to backtrack. Then, around 4 pm, we had two blowouts on one truck and smoking brakes on another, which cost us dearly in time. It is because this part of Cameroon is very mountainous and the brakes get so hot that they melt the tyres! One tyre blew out and hit Abbey in the stomach, which hurt, but he took it like the good soldier that he is. We were off after one and a half hours of roadside repairs - and drove straight into another roadblock, which kept us for nearly two hours. It crushed any hope of making Yaoundé today as it was already 8:30 pm. We only managed 65 km for the day with 220 km still to go to Yaoundé. So, we made roadside camp for the night, ready for an early start and feeling hopeful that we will drive into Cameroon's capital city tomorrow morning.
May 28th - Day 15
Slow going in the heart of the rainforest
After yesterday’s good progress with the escort, we were put up in the local hotel the authorities had kindly arranged for us. This morning after all the paperwork was finalised, we were on our way this was at lunchtime. The many roadblocks meant that progress was painstakingly slow. Add to that the fact that Jako’s truck brakes are taking the strain with the heavy trailer, which means we had no choice but to stop and cool them down manually with water. We were finally stopped entirely at 5 pm by the police, who informed us we would have to wait here until the morning for another permit to continue. Our total progress for the day came to only 80 km. The crew turned in for the night, and we are all hoping for better progress in the morning. We still have two-thirds of the distance to go to Brazzaville. Time is slowly running out to get there on time to set up. We urgently need your prayers!
May 27th - Day 14
Safely through a conflict zone
We didn’t make it very far from the border last night, before sunset and another mighty rainstorm. It was a great feeling to be putting our tents up on the containers again, on our way at last after the long wait. Our goal was to reach the next city on the other side of an area that has seen much conflict in recent months. We had our escort to look after us, as well as the friendly local police, who rode the entire way with us. In fact, we in the Hilux had the privilege of having one of the policemen with us in our vehicle, and he gave us a running commentary as we wound our way through the beautiful, thick vegetation of the Cameroonian rainforest. We were very grateful for our escort, who were there to see that we got to Bamenda safely, as we did towards evening. We made good progress today, and pray that we can cover plenty of ground tomorrow. Whenever you think of us on this journey, please pray! Pray for the team’s safety, pray for favour and protection, and pray that any obstacles will be removed from our path to Brazzaville. Your prayers are absolutely crucial, and we depend on them.
May 26th - Day 13
Great news - We are on the move!
Firstly, a huge thank you to all the prayer partners who have been praying for us, as we waited at the border. Winfried says this is officially the longest time he has ever waited at a border, so we’ve broken some kind of record already on this trip! But it felt like there was a change in the air this morning. We woke up to a welcome coolness in the air after a night of very heavy rain. And let me tell you, there is nothing quite like a tropical thunderstorm. I was the only thing keeping my tent from flying away in the storm, and it was incredibly exhilarating. And here’s the good news! It looks like our long wait for paperwork is over, and we are about to MOVE! We have an escort to help us through the next area, and the whole team is rejoicing that we’re on our way at last. Now, please pray that we can cover the rest of the trip in record time so that we have enough days to set up for the campaign in Brazzaville. Hopefully, I’ll soon be able to do another video for you, and tell you about our progress.
May 25th - Day 12
No news for today
The power has been down for many hours for our crew in Cameroon, so we don’t have any video or photos for you today. Please check in again with the Travel Blog tomorrow, and in the meantime, keep praying for our team, especially for favour and good weather, because apparently, it has been raining heavily there!
May 24th - Day 11
Please pray for the team
Today began with the glorious sunrise of the equatorial region. We were informed by the local customs officials that we must unpack our cargo, in order for them to inspect. This is a normal thing for all large trucks and the team handled it with grace and decorum. It does mean that we will be here for another night, however. The team handled this task with the God-given patience that they are used to from doing these campaigns. As the night crept in, the crew came back to pay hotel bills and sleep… hopefully, in preparation for a long drive. Tomorrow, we hope to be on the move. Unfortunately, we’ve been without power at our accommodation, so we can’t do any filming until we’re able to charge batteries again. As always, we value your prayers. Brazzaville is waiting to hear the Gospel, and we’re eager to be on our way.
May 23rd - Day 10
It’s looking good for the new route
Today was the second day of the local public holiday. The crew busied themselves with various odd jobs and some excellent fellowship around the breakfast table, where story sharing has become a daily institution that we have come to cherish. Winfried was on the phone a lot organising with various parties to get us moving again as soon as possible, and the good news is that it looks like we are on the road again tomorrow! Needless to say, the prospect has everyone excited, and the guys are particularly interested in seeing our new route north of Gabon. The word from local truck drivers is that they have been working on the road and that it is good. We will make the final call on the route upon reaching Yaoundé and after further investigation. However, Wini is confident that we will go north of Gabon. Only time will tell. While the guys were busy checking on the trucks, I chatted to Garry du Plessis, from South Africa. Watch the video clip below.
May 22nd - Day 9
There’s a two-day driving ban
Because of the public holiday here in Cameroon, the local authorities have implemented a two-day driving ban. This means that we are sitting in our hotel on the border waiting out the curfew. Patience is a very useful attribute when travelling in Africa, and the team made the most of the day amusing themselves with various R&R activities. The power, which had gone off the night before, returned in the afternoon and the air-conditioning hum kicked in to cheers of delight from everyone. This is not a cold place! Once again, we passed hours chatting and sharing stories of past campaign adventures, and Wini held us spellbound with his story of sinking on a river ferry in his truck. Wow, that man has been through a lot. We are all praying that our customs agent arrives tomorrow and we can resume our journey. In the meantime, I talked to Jako Hugo about what it’s like for the crew members to be away from home so much.
May 21st - Day 8
Hurry up and wait
What we were hoping for this morning, was that the customs agent we’ve been waiting for would arrive and clear us to move on. However, by 1pm, it was clear that it wouldn’t happen today. That has further consequences, because it is Cameroon’s Independence Day tomorrow, which means a complete ban on all trucks driving through the country for the day. It now looks like we may be stuck here for as long as 3 days, until the local festivities are over. This has happened to the team before, and we will just have to wait it out.
On a happy note, one of crew who was delayed because of his Cameroon visa was able to join us, to great rejoicing from the team. Now, if only the power would come back on! We have had no power for almost a day now, which means all our technology is fast running out of battery charge. It also means that there’s no water at our hotel, as they use an electric pump. We get by with buying small packets of clean water from the hotel reception, and pass the time with reading and enjoying each other’s company.
Please pray that we will quickly be given the go-ahead to carry on driving to Congo!
Watch the video for a brief introduction to Winfried Wentland, the CfaN Field Director.
May 20th - Day 7
Through the first border
It felt good to be making progress today, as we began with crossing the border from Nigeria to Cameroon. On the other side of the border, we discovered that we must wait for customs officials and a military convoy to escort us to Yaunde. We had time on our hands and so we spoke to a few of the local truck drivers about possible routes to Congo. They said that the road north of Gabon into Congo is drivable, and that would solve the visa problems we might have for our Nigerian brethren. The afternoon was spent on Google Earth investigating roads and making food. Just as the steak was cooked, a courteous military man informed us we could not camp at the border post, due to security issues. A small change of plans, and we ended the day checking into a local B&B with very friendly people, to sleep and await tomorrow’s new of the convoy.
May 19th - Day 6
Staying cool in the heat
Today began with an early start from the town of Ikom to the border. We arrived relatively quickly and by lunch time we had set up camp at the border post. Word arrived that the necessary papers were on their way and would be with us early evening. So, the crew settled down for a day of rest and relaxation. However, it wasn’t long before the tropical heat became suffocating, and it was a minor miracle when Jaco and Gary walked into camp fresh and cool, with the AWESOME news that there was a river not 100m from where we were. Naturally, the rest of us quickly made use of this refreshing godsend! In the evening, we cooked over the campfire, joking and laughing together, and went to bed early, well prepared to cross the border first thing in the morning.
May 18th - Day 5
A day of excellent progress
This morning, from the rooftops of our truck containers, were greeted with perfect travelling weather. We packed up our tents and were on the move just after sunrise, making great progress, only being stopped twice by the many police and military roadblocks that are a feature of travel in the area. The people manning the roadblocks always greeted us with big smiles at the news that we are spreading the Gospel and are on our way to Congo. Despite two flat tyres along the way, we arrived in the border town of Ikom with enough time to get the tyres fixed and to meet with the agent helping us across the border. The crew’s spirits are high and we ended the day with a roadside barbecue and stories around the camp fire. Tomorrow, we hope to be leaving Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, and heading into Cameroon, a nation known for beautiful scenery and great music.
May 17th - Day 4
THIS is why we need your prayers!
THIS is why we need your prayers!Yesterday at 8.30 am, we set out at last from the CfaN Lagos warehouse. Winfried gave a brief, inspiring word to the guys, and then we prayed together for God’s blessing on our trip. Negotiating Lagos rush-hour traffic in these huge rigs was exciting indeed. We made good mileage in the morning, until we were stopped in our tracks by an entirely blocked freeway. A tanker had dumped its entire load of fuel!
Three hours later, we were underway again, until one of the trucks suffered a breakdown due to a clogged fuel filter, a common problem in these conditions. Lawrence and Jaku made short work of the repair, and the good humour was intact, as Lawrence smiled while sucking in mouthfuls of diesel. After one more stop (this time, thanks to a broken, ageing air hose which was fixed again by these miracle-working guys) we drove the final few kilometres to our roadside stop. The exhausted crew set up camp on top of the containers and went straight to sleep. What a day!
May 16th - Day 3
Packing the trucks in Lagos
Today began with a fascinating and highly entertaining session around the breakfast table, as Winfred Wentland held our attention with story after story about his many adventures over the years of working for CfaN. From being held hostage, to sinking ferries and dodging arrest for deportation, the whole crew were spellbound. We found out that the other local crew members chasing visas were unsuccessful, but we are going to leave anyway with them and pray for intervention along the way. As we are definitely leaving tomorrow, we spent the day doing some food shopping, spares buying and money changing. The trucks have been turned around and everyone is very excited for 6:30 tomorrow morning. Brazzaville, here we come!
Watch the video to see us getting the trucks ready to go.
May 15th - Day 2
Arrival in Lagos
After arriving in Lagos late last night, we got a good night’s sleep and were up early this morning, eager to get under way. Unfortunately, we were greeted with the news that some of the local crew were still waiting for visas, so we won’t be leaving today. But everybody took it in their stride and after breakfast we headed over to the CfaN warehouse. There is plenty to do, and the crew got stuck into more preparation, repairs and checks. The truck rigs are truly impressive pieces of equipment, and they are treated with tender loving care by the guys. Despite this minor delay, which is typical for a journey like this, everyone is in high spirits and really looking forward to getting going.
As for the weather, the tropical heat and humidity is inescapable! I had to wipe the camera lens every 5 minutes because of the condensation. It didn’t stop me taking a few minutes to talk to Marcus Ahrnke, who is driving a rig for CfaN for the very first time, about how he came to take the job, and what he’s expecting. (The video is in German, with English sub-titles.)
May 14th - Day 1
Ready, steady, go!
Here’s a brief video clip from Gregory Vandenberg, who is on his way to join the CfaN technical team as they drive our campaign equipment from Nigeria to the Congo. He will be updating us on their progress and their adventures along the way. Keep watching this space daily for exciting videos, photos and reports, and don’t miss a thing.