The Words of the Fotso Family
Annette, with pioneers from home church Team C.
After the engagement in September, 1978 in England, I went into a London home church team. I had been exactly 40 months in Africa and I longed to go back and do home church there. My fiance, Jacob, is African and we were both invited to the 40-day training in America. Afterwards, we went together to Cameroon. There was only a small family and no foundation to do home church, so Jacob and I tried to establish a business. His family and fellow tribesmen observed us, but it was rather difficult for them to understand our lifestyle. Then I was called again to Zaire to help the hundreds of members there. It was in April, 1980, when I came back to Zaire. We had a 21-day seminar and I was the workshop mother. Out of this workshop I chose the first 18 pioneers for home church.
I had two teams of nine members, or three trinities, each of which had a trinity leader. Each team had a team. leader chosen from among the trinity leaders. Each trinity covered a different part of the city.
For example, the team close to our center, Team A, had the zones of Lemba, Limete and Matete. Kinshasa is a city of two and a half million people and its 24 zones vary greatly. They range from very poor, with no electricity or running water, to very rich where every house has at least one Mercedes-Benz car. There is one thing they all have in common, however: there are always lots of children. Our home church areas span the entire social range of neighborhoods in Kinshasa.
I wanted the three members of each trinity to work side by side to help each other and to know each others' contacts in the 360 homes, so if anyone changed missions, the others would know the best people of the three areas (1080 houses). Also I wanted them to fundraise and witness together centered around their trinity-leader so that they could love and protect each other.
Since no one had any idea about home church, one African brother, Alikane, and an African sister, Mpwankaba, helped me to put together 21 points in French as a guideline for the general duties and comportment of a home church pioneer, such as: how many houses to visit a week; how to work in trinities; and how much money to contribute the center and to certain families, because some of them are extremely poor.
I tried to follow as closely as possible the instructions we had learned from Rev. Won Pil Kim while in England, but I found out that some of them could not be applied in Africa. For example, what to do if people don't want to be served but instead, prefer to study Divine Principle? The pioneers didn't even have time enough to teach everyone in their areas who wanted to study.
I can never forget May 26, 1980, when the pioneers first went out. They had so much zeal and love and then so quickly gained the hearts of the African mamas and papas. Of course, I don't want to say that there was no persecution at all; indeed, sometimes there were even violent physical attacks on our pioneers. But we did have an immediate response to Principle, since our church was not yet known in Africa and the ideal of family life, respect for elders and ancestors, as well as belief in spirit world are so basic to African culture.
Our Japanese brother Makoto Maeda helped me, and together we visited the new contacts of our pioneers. Soon all pioneers lived in their 360-home areas; some of them with families who had studied the Divine Principle in the center before we started the official home church providence, and others with newly- found families. At least they lived in the neighboring area with one member of their trinity, so that they did not have to come back to the center at night.
Very soon we formed Team C and Team D, then we had four teams, which meant 36 full-time pioneers. Four itinerary workers were chosen from among the team leaders; as itinerary workers they did not have a 360-home area of their own any more, but had to go from area to area to help others.
Later Maeda had to go to the city of Kisangani to lead a pioneer center there, but luckily Gail Morey, an American sister, came to help in his place. And when I had to go for two months to Cameroon to attend to my visa situation, she took care of all the pioneers. During this time she gave them an unforgettable 7-day special workshop for pioneers in our training center, and I understood that actually I have to study more with the members, because they need so much spiritual food and care. When I returned, Gail then started taking care of the New Members' Group while I concentrated on helping each itinerary worker take responsibility and visit all the areas with the individual pioneers.
The first anniversary of home church, on May 26, 1981, was an occasion of great celebration. Each team held a gathering with the home church families in its area. Then on May 27, the pioneers came together at the main center. There was a huge cake and lots of African music and dances. Ten new pioneers officially joined, which meant we had now 45 full-time pioneers and five itinerary workers. Also some pioneers were taken out for special missions; for instance, Kintantu, a team leader, went to start a pioneer center Mbandaka, a large city near the equator, and another team leader, Luwawa, became responsible for the supra- denominational work, especially with prophetic and charismatic churches.
We could see how wonderfully the pioneers were trained in home church and that this could be the condition for their future missions. First of all, the pioneers were all capable and experienced teachers; before becoming pioneers, they had had to go through 21-day training in French and a special training course on how t. teach Divine Principle in the local language, Lin- gala, because not everyone in the home church areas understands French.
Each team came to the center one day a week for an all-day study session. For example, Team A came on Mondays, Team B on Tuesdays, and so on. The pioneers were supposed to come to the center at 7:00 a.m. In Germany I had studied to become a gymnastics teacher, but I had given it up in 1969 when I joined the Unification Church. Now here in the middle of Africa I taught a calisthenics class every day. The pioneers were happy (especially because they got wonderful karate uniforms) and they could really get into the spirit from the early morning.
We have three centers in Kinshasa, and we did our calisthenics in the garden of the second center, a large area where we also have Sunday service with more than 600 guests every Sunday. Around 9:00 we usually finished with calisthenics and everyone went to different centers to take a cold shower because 20 minutes later (ideally) they would begin Divine Principle study. We would finish around noon and then eat bread and peanuts. Sometimes Gail would join us, but often she was not there, because she was leading all the workshops in the training center. Francoise used to join us as well.
She was the French sister who stayed on in Zaire to build up a health education program after the European medical team's visit in 1980. A qualified nurse, Francoise teaches African mamas, for example, how to avoid malaria and many other diseases, especially those caused by unboiled water and poor sanitary conditions in the home; she also teaches the principles of good nutrition. After our simple lunch, we all gathered again to sing and discuss the problems in members' areas. There were many common situations that all members faced, such as how to avoid conflict if there is an official second wife (polygamy is quite common in Africa), and how to lead people to quit believing in sorcery or witchcraft and stop practicing it. The pioneers later told me some very moving personal stories. After the general meeting, around 3:00 p.m., we got ready to go to the home church areas. I went each time with a different trinity and visited either A-families or new contacts in the area.
All the five teams and the team leaders came on Saturdays for an all-day meeting to discuss all the problems of the pioneers and new members, and to organize the pioneers' fund. This fund was established from weekly contributions made by all the pioneers. We use the money for team expenses, special events, and to pay doctor bills, etc.
At this time the external membership was growing and Gail organized them into different groups, A, B, C, etc. They have special teachers' training classes after Sunday service. Group A reviews the Divine Principle, Group B hears internal guidance, Group C mostly studies Father's talks. They have regular Principle tests and are growing very much. They are encouraged to witness, and most of them contribute economically through fundraising or tithing. Some of them are able to join the center after a 7-day workshop or 21-day training, but because of our difficult economic situation, we have had to limit the number of center members to between 80 and 100 people.
Of course, there are many members who could not move in because they are fathers and mothers and have large families to care for, but still they work in the zones with the pioneers and participate in witnessing and fundraising. We have had to be very selective about who attends 7-day workshops, inviting only those who have worked already with the pioneers and have done regular fundraising. There are many more applicants for 7-day training than we can accept, due to limited space and money, so those who are lucky enough to be accepted can understand that training is a privilege. Some have already taken the training course to teach Divine Principle. To go to the 7-day workshop or the 21-day training, they also need the recommendations of their spiritual parent, the trinity leader and the team leader. I did not know all of them myself because there were so many. Of course, through my daily visits in the areas I had seen their faces but I had to rely on the reports of the team leaders.
Also I was very busy, since every night I had some additional activity to lead. Every Sunday I would visit a different service of the Ntwalanist Church and give a talk which Luwawa, my assistant, would translate into Kikongo. This church was founded by a black spiritual leader. Mondays, we met to discuss how to work with prophetic and charismatic churches. There was much to discuss, because we were training many young people and ministers from one of these churches. We sent these members through 7-day and 21-day workshops and to a 40-day home church experience. One of the leaders of this church gave us 17 young men and two women to teach. All of them studied the whole Divine Principle; some went on to 7-day workshops, some to 21-day, and three went on for teachers' training. We rented a center for them in a home church area and they went around to teach in the different parishes of their church, where they met an enthusiastic response.
Tuesday nights I had to lead a calisthenics group with Luwawa. We had selected eight home church pioneers to learn gymnastics with music so that they could perform on our "Music and Friendship Evenings." To these performances (essentially a sort of public relations evening, like the World of Hope Festivals which used to be held in New York), we invite high-level Zairean officials, ambassadors of different African nations, professors, religious leaders, business leaders, and other VIP's. After the performance we witness to them about all our activities in Zaire and around the world; we explain how we help the young people to return to morality and religion by promoting God-centered family life; and that this program is called "home church."
Wednesday nights, I worked with the folk group I founded with Roger, Gregory's [Novalis] assistant, who had been a professional musician before becoming a Protestant youth group leader and later joining our church. This folk group sings and performs African dances in theater form. Every drama has a moral to teach (derived from Divine Principle), and this is another witnessing method for the evenings with the dignitaries. Of course, there is Kathy Novalis' big choir, called African New Hope Singers, which sings a repertory of international songs quite professionally, as well as our Home Church Choir with about 30 external members led (under Kathy's supervision) by Seno, an African brother with great musical abilities.
Thursday nights I had another meeting with all the team leaders and Mutambwe, Gail's assistant for external members. We discussed all the problems of the external members. These meetings started while Gail was visiting Germany for medical reasons.
Friday nights we had the calisthenics group and Saturday nights the folk group came again to practice.
Sunday after pledge service, the team leaders and I would meet and write letters to all the pioneer centers about all the home church news and center activities. At 9:00 there was Sunday service. I often had to leave with some of the members at 11:00 to give a talk in one of the charismatic churches with which we were working.
Our Sunday service finishes around 1:00, after which people attend various Divine Principle lectures and study groups, which last until 4:00 pm. Sunday nights the pioneers sleep in the center and join in the large meetings where every pioneer has an opportunity to share any special experiences he has had. Sometimes we sing and dance, just relaxing and having a good time; but other times we study very seriously Father's words and discuss how to become a good evangelist.
In August, 1981, Gail suddenly got sick in the middle of a workshop and we found out it was a bad case of hepatitis. One week later, I too was sick with hepatitis and malaria. Hepatitis is a serious illness, because it takes so many months to recover. At first you get all yellow and you can't eat. But even when you look better, you have no strength to walk and talk or concentrate. Gail went to Germany for some time.
Betty, Gail's mother had come at the beginning of the year and was working with the 50 Zairean mamas who had all accepted the Divine Principle and were actively supporting the pioneers.
We also had a Papas' Group guided by brother Ndulu, the director of our vocational school, "ECOPROF" This group was not so large at that time, but we had five dedicated core members there who were our national leader's advisers for legal affairs and public relations. They were very active and loyal. One of them, our brother Lingele, was a businessman who gave a training center and a small farm to the church.
The home church work in Africa is very different from that in Europe or America. First of all, there are many people who don't want to be served by the pioneers; they prefer to hear the Divine Principle right away. The greatest numbers of pioneers are brothers, and it is against African custom for men to work for women. African women are ashamed to let brothers do housework. Also there are often eight to ten children per family, and they are help enough for the mother. But the biggest reason is that the people are just much more interested in hearing about God than in having external help.
They like to study something new and often they get angry when the pioneers don't have enough time to teach them at once because there are so many others to teach. Also, the pioneers must spend so much time fundraising. This is why our pioneers have no time to visit 53 houses a day, as we were taught in England and America. The people sometimes even forcibly keep our brothers in their homes and insist on being taught Divine Principle! In a typical home, the brothers have to teach some of the family members in French and some in Lingala. So the pioneers visit 120 houses a week and 360 every 21 days, but even then they don't have enough time to teach all the people in the areas who want to learn and still fund- raise to support themselves and the center.
Luckily, the pioneers receive a lot of help from the external members living in the areas, who go witnessing and fundraising along with the pioneers and sometimes contribute from their salaries. Most importantly, in each area, there are on-going teacher-training courses given by the team leaders. The external members who go through it successfully can help the pioneers teach in their area. Actually now there is no fundamental spiritual distinction between center members and external members; it's just that most of the members cannot move into the center because we lack the money and the space necessary.
They participate in all the activities and meetings in their area, centered on their pioneer/trinity/team leader, go fundraising with the external members' group and then, after 7 and 21-day training, they also can become a pioneer, depending on their devotion and qualifications. This home church mission is such great training. This is why all the members who were asked to join our great project in the Central African Republic or other projects in Zaire were chosen from among the older pioneers, and the gaps in the home church structure created by their departure were quickly filled by young members who had learned from them.
Enough about organization. Now a few examples of how the home church mission affects the Zairean people and the Zairean spirit world. Africa is very spiritual and for hundreds of years people have respected and served their ancestors. Often they are more afraid of their ancestors in the spirit world than of powerful people on earth. This spirit-world centered culture is so deeply rooted in Africa that communism, with its materialistic world view, will surely never be believed by African people. Every village has its elders but also has its witchdoctors and sorcerers.
Witchcraft is widely practiced, so our pioneers are sometimes confronted with quite a heavy spirit world. But more often they are welcomed and people have prophetic dreams about them. Very quickly, couples who study Divine Principle are told to live separately from each other. We don't tell them; it's their ancestors who give them dreams and sternly dictate this. When men have several official wives, they are often told by the spirit world to stay only with the first wife.
This is not so easy because they paid the traditional bride price for the second wife and they cannot give the children back to the wife's family. We always tell them to teach Divine Principle to the second wife, too, then she can understand that only the first wife has a rightful position. The women can become external members, work in some other home church, and later even join the center, leaving the children with the husband and the first wife. We have already had several cases like this.
There is one spiritual lady who has a whole group of African ladies around her who heal people with herbal remedies and prayers. Her ancestors reveal the nature of the disease and give instructions as to which plant to use to cure it. Often she has to tell people to give up adultery or to stop trying to kill someone with witchcraft. When she speaks like this, she pays a lot of indemnity and in hard cases she falls down while revealing someone's sin. For years her ancestors had told her to purify her body and, later, not even to shake hands with anyone, so she stopped shaking hands.
When our pioneers came, her ancestors were so happy and wanted her to learn from them. I decided to go to see her, but she lives far away from the center in a very sandy area. The night before I went, her ancestors told her that someone would come and she must shake hands with this person. This day I could not come, but she was already coming down the sandy mountainside to meet us. She got confused when she saw that the indicated person was not there. Still, after so many years of never touching anyone, she shook hands with the team leader. When I met her later, she was so humble and she studied Divine Principle.
My departure from Zaire for the 120-day training program was the occasion for such a big feast. All the pioneers came to the center and there was dancing and singing. They gave me so many presents. In case I was to go afterwards to another country, the members in this way made a condition that they had shown their gratitude. I was deeply touched and humbled by all the presents I received and I thought that in my official position I had listened and advised and loved them...but in reality, I had been myself carried and loved all the time by the depth of the African heart.