Sunday Services:
9:00-10:30 AM
Howe Chapel  |  439 Coffman St  |  Longmont, CO

 

Reflections on a Brief, Deeply Meaningful Visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo

 
I arrived back safely Monday, Sept. 12, after a whirlwind trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo to attend the enthronement of the new Archbishop Masimango Katanda. Isaiah 40:31 says, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…" and this trip was certainly an experience in living out this verse! Thank you so very much for your faithful prayers on my behalf through this experience.

It is so hard to believe that just Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, I was enjoying a six-hour service in sweltering heat in Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was indeed a glorious affair with archbishops from Tanzania (retired), Uganda, Kenya and South Africa, and representatives of the Archbishop of Canterbury and all the bishops of the nine Dioceses of Congo and other Church leaders and diplomats of the Congo government in attendance, along with Bishop Philip Jones, our Apostolic Vicar, Canon Kevin Donlon, our Canon for Ecclesiastical Affairs, and myself representing AMiA. The service included choirs, singing, sermons, dances, offertories and more. Now Archbishop Masimango has been enthroned and another bishop, Mutshindu Mayamba, was installed as the new bishop of the Diocese of Kinshasa.

From left: AMiA Apostolic Vicar Bishop Philip Jones, Archbishop Masimango, Bishop Gerry
From left: AMiA Apostolic Vicar Bishop Philip Jones, Archbishop Masimango, Bishop Gerry
 
 
The trip started with a chance to practice waiting upon the Lord as that verse in Isaiah says. We were supposed to leave for Kinshasa last Thursday, Sept. 8, to attend the enthronement, but delayed leaving due to still not having our visas approved and processed. After MANY texts and phone calls, we took a chance and Pam drove me to Denver International Airport Thursday to catch a 1 p.m. flight to Washington, D.C. Word had it that the visas for myself, Canon Kevin Donlon, and Bishop Philip Jones were AT hand, but not necessarily IN hand yet. Thankfully, the visas came through as we were on our way to DIA. Praise be to God! I purchased a ticket online at the airport once I knew I had a visa to make the trip. We had one night in Washington, D.C., then flew to Kinshasa via Brussels, and I spent one night in Kinshasa before beginning the return trip home just hours after the service.
 
Bishop Jones, followed by Bishop David Williams representing the Archbishop of Canterbury.
       
From front: Retired Archbishop Mtetemele of Tanzania, Bishop Williams, U.K., Archbishop of Kenya, Archbishop of Uganda, and Bishop Mutshindu Mayamba, new leader of Kinshasa Diocese.
                                                  
Some might ask why one would make such a long trip with such a quick turn around. I was so deeply blessed and indebted to Bishop Masimango and other bishops from Congo, Tanzania and Ghana who came to the U.S.A. to consecrate both Carl Buffington and myself in May of 2015 that I felt it only right to do all I could to be present with and for him at his installation as Archbishop. It has been a long, difficult journey with some opposition to the bishops of these dioceses supporting and partnering with the AMiA. They are all such a blessing to us.
 
I have been deeply encouraged by God’s sustaining grace in the travels, by the prayers of the faithful for me and for Philip and for Kevin and in the abundant blessings received through the relationships we have with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Africa. How wonderful is our God.
 
Please continue to pray for Bishop Philip and for Kevin as they travel on to the Dioceses of Kagera and of Kibondo, both in Tanzania, to lead worship, preach and be present with our bishops and friends in those places. Also, please keep Archbishop Kolini in your prayers as he goes with them to Kagera Diocese. Finally, please hold Bishop Carl Buffington and Bishop William Mugenyi in prayer as they travel this week and next to India to do ordinations and healing services across India with our dear brother and leader there, Father Ivan.
 
Praise be to God on high. He is so good. His presence and hand were evident throughout this experience. It was a very, very long trip but worth it in so many ways. Pam was very patient with me through this sometimes trying time leading up to our departure…thanks be to God and to her.

More on Sunday for those who can make it to our service, 9 a.m. at 439 Coffman St. in Longmont, CO.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Bishop Jones and Bishop Sospeter Ndenza with Canon Donlon in Kagera Diocese.

“So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”  Luke 14:33

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

“…. give up all your possessions”? Really? Jesus can’t possibly mean that all who follow him should literally give up all their possessions can he?

This is a critical question to ponder. Jesus says this in the Bible not just once but several times. Some have done exactly this. Saint Francis born into wealth gave it ALL up. Those called to serve Jesus as monks and nuns give up everything. Some missionaries do the same. But are we all supposed to do that in order to meet the standard of becoming a disciple?

Many believe, and I am one of them, that this is another case of some hyperbole. Jesus clearly wants all who follow Him to deny themselves and take up their cross. He also wants us all to have a deep detachment from any earthly, worldly thing. Included in these things are people, even mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and other family, pets, houses, cars, clothes, jewelry, bank accounts, and portfolios. It doesn’t mean we don’t love these people, pets and things, but that we don’t depend upon them. We only depend upon him and him alone. That is a tall order.

Have you and I achieved this sort of radical life yet? I know it remains a goal for me that I have not yet fully met. 

By His grace and mercy may we truly renounce all that is in the world that we may be fully devoted to Him.

Blessings in Jesus, Gerry

"Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."  Hebrews 12:11

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

I'll never forget as a child getting spanked with a paint paddle whenever I willfully disobeyed my parents.  I know some people think that is horrible that some parents discipline with spanking, but as for me as the one who was spanked I am eternally grateful. As I look back I was a very strong willed child that needed serious, consistent and severe discipline. It helped to train me and to teach me to be obedient.

God also disciplines his children. He is sometimes severe with us and we often struggle with that discipline. As hard as discipline is, whether that of our own parents or that of God, the Scriptures promise  ".....it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."   

I sincerely believe that whatever "righteousness" or good, holy behavior I have, I have in large part because of my parents and God's faithful discipline. Though I usually didn't like it at the time, as I look back I am deeply grateful!

How are you responding to God's love expressed through His discipline ?

Blessings in Jesus,  +Gerry

"For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14:11

I’ll repeat here a story I have sometimes told in sermons. A man was hang gliding on a nice day just filled with joy as he sailed along. Then suddenly a storm approached and a downdraft pushed him down out of control toward the forest below. As he was rapidly descending toward the trees that looked like spikes, he noticed off one shoulder a hawk that was diving along side him. He prayed and God said, “Follow the hawk.” Against all his training and instincts he pointed his glider down into what looked like certain death. Then miraculously as the bird and hang glider plummeted together they hit an updraft just before crashing into the trees below. Up they went safely out of danger.

When our lives seem to be plummeting out of control toward certain calamity, if we will simply let go and trust in our loving, faithful Lord He will lift us up into His presence and give us new life. 

Let us seek the lowest place that God in His wisdom and in His way will lift us to the place of honor and blessing.

Blessings and joy in Jesus, Gerry

"Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”  Luke 12:51-53

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Peace. The peace of the Lord be with you! Doesn’t God want peace on earth? Don’t we read in the Bible: “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased”?

Yes, yes, yes. God does want peace and God does bring peace. However, this statement of Jesus is more a statement of the fact that when He comes into the lives of people and they embrace Him as their Savior and follow Him as their Lord it will cause division in their relationships with others. Some people, even ones we love dearly and are very close to, even family will be angry and upset when we decide that Jesus is the most important person in our lives. That is just the reality. It is very difficult for us all, but many of us have indeed experienced the division and alienation of friends and family when we chose Jesus.

Nevertheless we choose Jesus.  And, Jesus chooses us and will indeed bring into our hearts and minds His peace that passes understanding even in the midst of the conflict that often results.

May we know Him and His peace in the context of our earthly relationships and the occasional division we experience.  He came to bring peace and also knew His coming would bring division.  It’s just the reality of life in Christ.

Blessings and Peace in Jesus, Gerry