Ordination in Bangui

Last weekend we traveled to Bangui, CAR on Friday to attend the ordination of Pastor, now Reverend, Jean Bete on Sunday August 8. Bangui is 260 km (150 miles) from Gemena. We accepted the invitation to come along because we have known Pastor Jean since the 1980s when he started working for the Covenant mission in our Bangui business office. We have worked together there over the years.

Zongo beach looking to Bangui

We left at 7h35 Friday and got to Zongo barely in time to cross the border to CAR. Actually we had to stop at the CEUM church and have a quick meal before going on to the border, but the lead pastor had worked things out with the border authorities so that we could cross even though it was after 4 pm when the border closes. A couple of the women traveling with us had never been in a dugout canoe or large river before so the wobbly dugout was a bit scary for them. With a small outboard on the back it crosses quicklly.

Saturday, we enjoyed going out for breakfast to a pastry shop. Yumm- warm apple turnovers, croissants and hot tea! We also did little shopping for supplies we can’t get in Gemena.

Sunday was the big day, the ordination service.

Service set up on soccer field

The service was held in a soccer field with goalposts right behind where things were set up, because the local churches wanted the broader exposure and did not have a large enough building. The service was very dignified and well done. We appreciated the message and then the ordination littany itself.

Ordination Prayers

The challenge to the candidate was excellent and would be good to refer to often. After the 3-hour service, we were hosted for a celebration at Rev. Bete’s house before returning to prepare for return drive to Gemena.

This ordination is significant because it marks the first ordination of a pastor from the church planted by the CEUM in Bangui in 2004. This denomination is called the CEUMA, or Evangelical Community of the Ubangi in Mission in Africa. Today there are 23 churches and about 1,700 members in the 6 year old denomination.

Reverend Jean Bete with Ordination Certificate

The return to Gemena on Monday was tiring. It takes a while to get everyone moving and then go through immigration and customs on both sides of the river. And then to finally eat, pack the trucks and leave. We left at 11h35 and arrived in Gemena at 7pm.

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