Angolan Literature Fund: 20 years of service

Precious Seed

The Angolan Literature Fund was set up in 1998 with a clear vision ‘to further the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ amongst the people of Angola and such other charitable objectives as the Trustees may from time to time select’. Through the financial support it receives from individuals, assemblies and various trusts, the fund can send to Angola, Bibles, hymnbooks and other Christian literature, as well as equipment, paper and consumables for literature production within Angola.

History and impact

Having been involved with the Angolan Literature Fund throughout its twenty-year existence, Brian Howden, missionary and trustee, can testify to the immense blessing it has been to the ongoing spiritual work which is the basis of any missionary activity.

Prior to 1998, the literature that was available for missionaries to use and for national believers to enjoy, could be best described as sparse and frequently unavailable. There was no way that individual missionaries could meet the vast literature needs that exist in Angola and so, in 1998, Ruth Hadley initiated the setting up of the fund in an attempt to meet that need. Because of the lack of missionaries over the years, it was, and still is, vital to support the many assemblies through the provision of literature.

It is testimony to the Lord’s goodness that, for many years now, the missionaries have not lacked Bibles, which is the Fund’s primary aim, namely to make sure the word of God is available to the people of Angola. The missionaries now have a plentiful supply of both Chokwe and Portuguese Bibles and can maintain adequate stock levels. If they do run out, then there is usually only a couple of months delay due to transport issues. Apart from literature in Chokwe and Portuguese, the fund has also been able to supply material in the Umbundu, Luvale, Bangala and Songo languages and anticipates others being added to that list in the future.

Literature provided

In addition to Bibles and hymnbooks, the fund has been able to supply a good selection of study aids, commentaries and other books in Portuguese to help believers in their daily walk with the Lord. One habit that is being encouraged is that of the daily reading of the scriptures, and, to that end, the trustees are pleased that Choice Gleanings has been produced in Portuguese and has now arrived on the field. Please pray that the daily meditation will help believers glean a little more from their Bible readings.

Many organizations have willingly donated books, including Mytrlefield Trust, Precious Seed, Chamada, Everyday Publications Inc. and Assembly Testimony; their generous contribution to the work cannot go without the grateful acknowledgement of the trustees. The trustees are also so thankful for the massive contribution that Medical Missionary News makes in not merely transporting the literature, but also holding literature in the warehouse, sometimes for several months, before a container is loaded. This is an immense practical help, as is their generous contribution to the cost of transport, equipment and supplies.

Distribution 

With some assemblies only having one Bible and hymnbook between them, a significant challenge which the missionaries face is the task of distributing the literature to key areas and, while not easy, this is an ongoing effort. With the roads in poor condition, lack of manpower to do the work and constant demands on time and energy to do other things, it means that they mainly rely on folk coming to Saurimo and Luanda to make their purchases. When villages and isolated areas can be visited, it quickly becomes obvious that greatly subsidized prices are needed to make it possible for everyone to have a Bible, hymnbook, or whatever they are seeking.

Translation

The loss of Doris Pitman from Canada in January 2018 will be felt very much, as she, at the age of 97, was still faithfully translating books into the Chokwe language. Having already served the Lord in Angola for many years, she continued labouring behind the scenes, producing literature for the blessing of thousands. She has surely already heard His highest commendation, and we salute the memory of one who shunned publicity and, despite advanced years, never tired in her aim to translate books that would edify the Lord’s people.

Her co-worker, Marjorie Beckwith, served the Lord faithfully for almost fifty years in Angola. She had a great heart for literature and was a tremendous help in distributing it to the provinces of Angola. She was called home in May this year. She also continued translating books up to the end and will be greatly missed.

Eunice Carapeto (Lisbon, Portugal) and Terry Blackman (Newport, Wales) have been heavily involved in translating material that the fund has requested, and much of their work is now in print and in use in Angola.

Sourcing literature

The trustees are grateful for the contribution Crawford Brown makes to the work of the fund. Being based in Brazil and himself heavily involved in literature work, he is well able to give guidance as to what is available in the Portuguese language. He does much of the work in sourcing the material needed from different publishers before sending it to MMN for loading into the containers that go directly to Camundambala.

Printing in Angola

Apart from providing literature, the Fund has established two printing works, one in Luanda, the capital, and the other in Saurimo. The Saurimo operation has worked continually since the printing work started there in the year 2000 and has provided many thousands of Emmaus Bible courses for use in the province and beyond. It has also supported the work of the local assemblies in printing material that they require, as well as for the school at Camundambala and paperwork for local medical stations. The Luanda operation has been out of action for several years, but the trustees are hoping that a fresh start can be made in the second part of 2018 when the newly upgraded facilities receive replacement equipment. 

The printing work has many challenges, and the economics of it needs to be constantly under review, with the price of bulk printing in Asia being very competitive. Nevertheless, the fund continues to supply printing equipment, paper, ink and other consumables, enabling the printing work to meet the needs of the local assemblies, especially in the production of Emmaus courses.

The trustees would be grateful for the prayer support of the Lord’s people as they continue to meet the demands made on the fund and for wisdom in the days ahead. Please pray that the vision does not fade and that the Lord will raise up younger people with the needed skills and abilities to join the trustees, but above all, that glory be given to the Lord for what He is doing in Angola.

Appreciation from Angola

While the missionaries can see the appreciation of the Angolan believers for the literature received, this is not often written down. However, on the occasion of this twenty-year anniversary, the brother who runs the printing room and the sister who oversees the bookroom in Saurimo wrote,

‘. . . we are strangers, but you support us with so much love. What admiration we have. The world calls this waste and those who hear about the work of ALF think it is a lack of responsibility to do this with your money, they don’t appreciate what is done with that money. We do and will always be grateful . . . The Angolan faithful rejoice and thank you so warmly for ALF in our lives and in our Country . . .’

The following was seen written in the front of a young man’s Bible. 

‘This Bible was given to me on the 13/10/2016. I am very grateful because now I can read and understand about the work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross’.

Points for prayer

  • Thanksgiving for the Lord’s faithful provision and the support of the Lord’s people.
  • That the Lord would raise up others who have a vision for the work in Angola.
  • That wisdom would be given in the allocation of funds, literature sourced and equipment provided.
  • For those who translate material into the various languages used in Angola.
  • For continued safety in the delivery of literature.
  • For better facilities to distribute more widely across the country.
  • For the work of the Camundambala school in giving the next generation the ability to be able to read and comprehend which is so vital for the spiritual work.
  • For wisdom in knowing how long to support printing within Angola.

 
For further information, or if you are interested in a trustee giving a report, please contact Michael Buckeridge, email: hello@alf.org.uk