Pastor Al Downey

Caleb is Still Alive!

The year was 1997. The Nation of Rwanda lay in ruins, devastated by a brutal, tribal genocide that left one million people savagely murdered in the space of one hundred days.
Elmer and Sherry Komant were the missionary pastors of a church they had grown in the heart of Islamic East Africa, in the City of Mombasa. Over their ten years there, the Komants had carefully groomed an African leader, Pastor Tom Arati to succeed them in leadership.

The Komants had never seen Kigali, Rwanda, yet during a season of fasting and prayer, it was to this Nation the Spirit of God called them. They started with nothing but a divine mandate to plant an English-speaking Church in a French-speaking Nation, and to reach with the love of Jesus, to the Government officials of the Nation.

In August of 1998, 27 people from the Sherwood Park Pentecostal Church travelled to Kigali to assist in the set up of a large tent, shipped in one of two sea containers, filled with the bare essentials needed to commence the work.

The journey ahead for the Komants was filled with adventure, danger and opposition. It was a rigorous and often frustrating journey. They persevered and God prospered.
I was recently in Rwanda, and toured their incredible facility, built on land provided by a direct miracle from God.  A lovely, attractive building serves as meeting place for the saints and centerpiece for the property. It is appropriately named Christian Life Assembly. Another well-built facility, The Komant Building provides for the temporary housing of teams.  Yet another large workshop and warehouse is constructed with the ingenious use of sea containers. Wellspring Academy, God’s dream for Jeff Komant, with its numerous classrooms, science labs, library and administrative wing is offering education, second to none, in the Nation. It is soon to be turned over completely to an indigenous leadership team.  A Wellness Centre is about two thirds completed, a place where local people will receive medical attention unaffordable to them elsewhere.  A Leadership Training Centre is in the dream stage, a facility where everyone from Church Workers to Government Officials will receive quality leadership and team building instruction under the leadership of recently appointed Global Worker Racheal Komant and her God-given ‘Imagine If’ leadership dream.  The whole place is a constant beehive of kingdom activity. Pathways crisscross the property, leading through beautiful gardens, famous Rwanda stonework, fountains, and gazebos. The grounds are professionally landscaped, much of it under the supervision of a wonderful couple from Crowsnest Pass, who journey there each winter, offering their kingdom gift to add beauty to the property.

In addition, three Church Plants have been established, each of them thriving and bringing souls to Jesus on a weekly basis. The plant just across the valley from Christian Life Assembly is located in the very poor District of Nyabisindo. There a lovely young couple ‘Peter and Ruth’ love the people and bring hope to them in the name of Jesus. Across the city, in Busanza, God has provided a piece of land where ‘Sylvan and Louise’ are meeting with a good group of people in a school-house, awaiting the construction of a meeting place of their own. This site has also been chosen as the potential site of the ‘vocational training centre.’  Until construction begins, the local people are using the land to grow crops for sale and sustenance. In the North East part of the Country, on land given to the Church, by one of the pastors, in a place called Umutara, the Women’s Division of the United Nations has teamed up with CLA to start a pineapple plantation. There, women, previously stuck in the cycle of poverty, have opportunity to work, making a few extra ‘francs’ to help support their families. The balance of the land, not under pineapple crop, is parceled off and loaned to the local people to grow gardens. Here a simple Meeting Place has been constructed with sea containers, trusses, and metal roofing.  People are walking up to seven kilometers to attend this Church each Lord’s Day. Many are being saved weekly under the ministry of ‘Richard and Pera.’

God has also blessed compassionate leaders in CLA to provide relief and housing for women and children affected by the HIV/Aids virus, creating cottage industries for them and giving them hope for the present and the opportunity of eternal life.

CLA is well-known in the City and attended by numbers of officials in high government portfolios.  A number of them serve in Church Leadership roles.

And, the tent?  After years of surviving threats of demolition, the structure still stands on its original, and greatly improved, site in the center of the city. It sports a brand new skin, and serves as a Youth Outreach Centre. One of the young men from CLA organizes this ministry, where many young people are being saved through the athletic program.

Wow!  It is almost too much to take in.  Yvonne and I were present to assist in preparing the transition of the pastoral leadership of the Church from Elmer and Sherry Komant to Andrew and Prisca Mukinisha, along with the delightful, Godly and well-trained leadership team of CLA. This will happen on June 3, 2012.

It was Elmer and Sherry’s intent to provide the leadership needed to complete the Vocational Training Centre. However, during the week of fasting and prayer in the first week of January, God spoke to them. He spoke an Abraham type word that they have become accustomed with.  “Elmer and Sherry, leave this place you love, the people you love, all the miraculous accomplishments that have occurred in this Nation, once in ruins, but now beginning to know the favor of God. Leave it all and go to the place I am calling you, to the Nation of Burundi, to a city called Bujumbura, to a country destabilized by political unrest, a place of significant risk and danger. In fact it is a Country very similar to the one you encountered 14 years ago when you arrived in Rwanda.  Start over, start with nothing except the same faith you had when you came to Kiglai.”  And Elmer and Sherry, without hesitation, said, “Yes, Lord, we will go!”

It was soon after our arrival there that Elmer shared this vision with me and then later with his whole leadership team.  There were tears, there was rejoicing, there were prophetic confirmations that the Komants had indeed heard from God.

I was humbled by the whole experience, best encapsulated by the words of our Mission’s Director, Murray Cornelius (which I paraphrase)  “Elmer, God has used you greatly in Zambia, then again in Mombasa, Kenya, now in an amazing way in Kigali, Rwanda.  You are not in your youth anymore. You have earned the right to take it easy. But if you have the call and the strength, ‘go!’”

This is the spirit of the true Apostle, the Caleb spirit, a spirit that will settle for nothing less than obedience to and execution of the plan of God, regardless of convenience, comfort, cost or consequence.

We left Kigali on January 28th.  For the final days we were there, I could sense that the hearts and thoughts of the Komants were already in another place. They were filled with excitement and anticipation. The following day, after the morning service, and after Sherry had dutifully taught her class, they pointed the nose of the old red Mercedes, southward, into unfamiliar territory driving, for the first time, across Burundi, to the Capital city, to see firsthand the place that, in God’s plan, will be their next home and provide their next adventure.

Yes, Caleb is alive, living in Global Workers like Elmer and Sherry and dozens of others in our Fellowship of whom the world is not worthy.

Pray for the Komants. They are ABNWT PAOC Global Workers.

Article Written for LIFE LINE by:  Pastor Al Downey.
Pastoral Care Coordinator in the Alberta & NWT District of the PAOC

One thought on “Pastor Al Downey

  1. Leslie Roos says:

    What a beautiful story of God’s faithfulness and the obedience of His children. Thank you for sharing this inspirational chapter in the life of such faithful servents. What a blessing.

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