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Lugufu refugee camp

Lugufu 1 ecclesia

Lugufu 1 ecclesia

The Lugufu camps are home to around 100,000 Congolese refugees and there are two ecclesias here, called Lugufu 1 and Lugufu 2.

We were directed to the hall at Lugufu 2 by a brother on a bike. We marvelled at his speed over the rough terrain and were even more amazed when he excitedly showed us the scars on his hand, leg and feet. This was the brother we had met last year with dirty, deep wounds following a bike accident. We had cleaned up his wounds, given him some antibiotics and sent him away with socks to cover the plasters on his hands and his feet. The ecclesial hall was in a far less healthy state, as the roof had been unable to withstand a strong wind, and so we met the ecclesia under the shade of a tree. While Tim spoke to the elders of the ecclesia, Sammy and I talked to a young man who had joined the crowd. He was carrying a pamphlet about the dangers of drugs. The pamphlet contained some good teaching until it talked about the reward of abstinence - in heaven. So we started talking to him about the kingdom of God on earth and invited him to attend the talks at the Lugufu 1 ecclesia the following day - and he came!

Lugufu 1 ecclesia is doing really well. It has strong leaders and they are in regular contact with Brother Mike Harris from Evesham. We had arranged to arrive at the ecclesia early because there were many interviews to do. We were therefore dismayed to find that the minibus had a flat tyre. What made the situation worse was that Shabani was trying to use a jack meant for a small car. We were staying at the Red Cross compound and the minibus was parked right next to the place where they maintain the Red Cross lorries. We asked for their help, and soon Thierry and Samwel were hauling out a lorry-sized jack, and the wheel was changed in no time. When we arrived at Lugufu 1, Tim gave talks to the ecclesia and contacts inside the ecclesial hall. Tim's talk was translated by a brother who had recently arrived at Lugufu from a camp in South Africa. Then the ecclesia broke bread together.

Outside the hall the ecclesia had built two smaller rooms, ideal for interviews. So Sammy, Thierry, Samwel and I interviewed the eight people who had expressed a desire to be baptised. We were all impressed by the answers we were given and the Bible knowledge that they had; they had been taught well. Having shared spiritual food we were then treated to a wonderful meal which included a fish and cabbage dish named chakula hiki ni katuma sahne. It was then time to go and find water for baptising in.

As with all distances in Africa, what was meant to be a 20-minute journey turned out to be longer. As many people as possible piled into the minibus and we set off. At one point we all had to get out, as it was so near the ground that we couldn't negotiate the bumps in the road. Eventually, after a 20-minute bus ride and a 20-minute walk we arrived at the edge of the camp and found a small river that was deep enough. We were then delighted to see the baptisms of seven new brothers and sisters. For Brother Pascal, the chairman (recording brother) of Lugufu 1, it was a particularly happy day, as he witnessed the baptisms of his wife, daughter and son. There was also the wife of another brother at Lugufu 1, the son of elderly Brother Celestine at Lugufu 2, and a young contact of Brother Rampa Masanga's. On the way back to the ecclesia the bus was filled with the happy sound of singing in praise to God for what had happened. We were sad to be leaving and beginning the long journey back to Kigoma.

Judith Evans
from The Bible Missionary, no. 180, April 2006

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