When considering the ministry of the apostle Paul, one can quickly see the value in multiple forms of media. Letters and personal visits connected him with fellow believers. And infused throughout was intensely beautiful sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.
Part 1 of ‘A Modern-day Apostolic Journey’ related the first half of Athanase Chiruza’s trip to the United States focused on his past personal mentorships with pastors of diaspora communities in Africa which continue to thrive as these refugees make their home in new countries. The second half of Athanase’s trip involved a conference comprised of a zoom-created community.
In 2020, when the pandemic hit, some African pastors from diaspora communities began meeting by zoom in response to Covid-induced isolation. Often hosted by Athanase from his office at Parliament Community Church, Regina, pastors and lay people tuned in from around the globe, including Australia, U.S.A, Europe, Africa, and Canada. Throughout peal Covid times, when in-person gatherings were discouraged worldwide, they met seven days a week for prayer, worship, testimony, and teaching. Routinely, these virtual get-togethers ranged from between seventy to one hundred zoom connections.
The Kentucky based conference, which took place at the beginning of this month, purposed to bring together people who previously had only known each other via screens. In our western culture, conferences are synonymous with preaching and teaching. Although Athanase was one of the speakers, he was most excited about meeting with people passionate to pray.
It started Friday evening with prayers at the church. Saturday, after leaving the church at 11:00 p.m., they went to the home where they were staying to continue to intercede with those wanting prayer, praying till four in the morning. Many received the Lord Jesus, and others restored their faith and were encouraged to remain in the Lord. Following Sunday’s afternoon services, leaders were invited for a meal with a family in which the husband had turned from God. In Athanase’s own words, “but when we went there for supper it was his time to repent with tears.”
Originally, Athanase was only to be at the kentucky conference until Saturday afternoon, flying to South Carolina that evening. However, after a flight delay and eventual cancelation, he returned to the conference. When he saw what happened Saturday night and Sunday, he recognized that it was God’s wonderful doing; it wasn’t His Will for Athanase to go to South Carolina at that time.
Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, a fervour and zeal for prayer…what does God long for us to learn through our refugee brothers and sisters in Christ?
Here in Saskatchewan, Athanase is a treasured resource, encouraging and spurring us on to passionately seek after God, and leading through example how to engage with and care for diaspora peoples and settling within our province.