Andre Ntambwe shares how God placed him in a strange land surrounded by people from a different culture for a far greater purpose than he could have imagined.
In 2002, after I had moved from the DRC to Zambia, I received a prophesy from a man while praying on a rural mountain. He told me that God was going to take me out of the country and put me among people of another colour, and that I should never damage those relationships as they would ultimately be used for His glory.
At the time I didn’t fully understand what this prophesy meant, but now being a part of the leadership team of Common Ground Church Wynberg, a multi-cultural congregation in Cape Town, I can see the fulfilment of this prophesy as God uses me to minister to people of different nationalities and cultures every day. When I meet someone I don’t see their colour, or their culture, or their background. I see a fellow person created in God’s image. This is one thing we all have in common.
My own story reflects just how powerfully God can use friendships with people of a different colour and culture to impact and shape us. One of the friendships that had the deepest impact on me was when I met Steve and Sarah Binos. At the time, I was really struggling to settle down in Cape Town and find a job that could cover my rent and food.They invited me to their home for lunch and we continued to stay in touch. I remember being struck by how interested they were in my life. I felt I could really share my story with them. Their hospitality and warmth meant more to me than they could ever have known.
It was also Steve and Sarah who first introduced me to the church that is now my spiritual home and community, which was then called Friends First and is now Common Ground Church. I wasn’t familiar with the area and I was surrounded by people who weren’t from my culture but as I walked through the building’s doors for the first time I felt God say, “You are finally where I want you to be.”
But it wasn’t always easy. At first I battled with some of the cultural differences. For example, I remember frequently being asked what I did for a living. This seemed like such an odd question to me as it wasn’t one we ever asked in my culture. I never really knew how to respond. I also felt sometimes that people would talk to me as though I knew nothing, or would make assumptions about the country I was from which I found offensive.
My wife also struggled to understand jokes which didn’t make sense to her. She would get offended by a comment someone would make about her clothes and I would have to explain to her that they were just joking.
What I realised is that it takes time. I joined a small group and became very good friends with a couple, Mickey and Jo Beley. By spending so much time together, I had the freedom to ask them questions or challenge them when I was unhappy about something. We could be completely honest with each other. This helped bridge any misunderstandings caused by our different backgrounds or upbringings.
Now I get so excited when I see the increased diversity in our congregation as I truly believe we can all help each other understand the scriptures better. There is no reason I can’t connect with someone from another culture, because we can all lay claim to a unified culture centred around Christ and not on our own upbringing. After all, Christ didn’t let culture or social status prevent him from befriending and loving people from all walks of life, and neither should we. God didn’t create such diversity for nothing. It’s shaping us on all sides.
– Andre is the founder of NETwork, a non-profit organisation which helps train and connect job-seekers to employment opportunities. He also serves on the leadership team of Common Ground Church Wynberg. He is married to Sabrina and has two young sons.
For a full account of Andre’s story, click here.
P.S. For more on this topic, read How I came to marry my ‘umlungu’ and Love across the colour line