Inspiring updates from Multiply’s Global Lead Team
Doug Hiebert, Sub-Saharan Africa
I’d like to share a story about a friend of mine named Athanase. When war broke out in his home country of Congo, he fled with his family to Tanzania. There, they lived in a refugee camp where the situation was very difficult and desperate. Despite this, they gathered for worship with other refugees who spoke their language, and eventually, a church was planted and grew to include local Tanzanian believers. Not long after that, Athanase and his family moved to Zambia where again they lived in a refugee camp. The conditions there were the same. Yet again they started a church that eventually included locals, this time, Zambians. When an invitation came to help a struggling church in neighboring Zimbabwe, Athanase seized the opportunity to serve another group of believers. The next invitation, however, came not from Africa but Canada. His family was invited to resettle in Regina, Saskatchewan, of all places. It was very different in many ways, yet, for Athanase, some things were exactly the same. There in Canada, he did what he had done elsewhere—he gathered other refugees together for worship and quickly won the hearts of others around him.
Athanase is a simple shepherd of the flock, and he just continues to follow God’s call on his life and use the gifts God has given him. Canada is not some final destination in his mind, it’s just simply another new location where he has an opportunity to serve. Today, Athanase continues to serve not only fellow newcomers in Regina, but he reaches out online to his former flocks of the scattered and gathered in Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Five nights per week, using Zoom, he shepherds his people all over the world, not only in Africa, but those scattered in Australia, Finland, Belgium, France, and the USA. His mission? To see these refugees not just surviving in their new countries, but thriving, fulfilling God’s call on their lives, and participating in his mission. Athanase is full of passion and ready to make any sacrifice necessary to fulfill his own calling. In fact, at sixty-two years old, it’s like Athanase is just getting going.
In the Book of Acts, when Peter preached his first sermon after receiving the Holy Spirit, he referred to Jesus as “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). I believe this is significant. Jesus as Christ gives us hope for the future. Jesus as Lord calls us to obedience and complete reliance on him. Our lives are not our own. We must surrender to his Lordship. I feel a sense of urgency around this: “The time is now, and the kingdom of God is near, so repent and believe the good news.” Surrender to the King and live by his kingdom principles. Give up your own agenda and dreams, and embrace the mission of Jesus, the King.
“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
- For continued blessing on the ministries of African church leaders like Athanase as they serve internationally as lights to the nations.
- For our North American churches to catch a vision for living in surrender to the King, according to his kingdom principles, embracing his mission, for his glory.