‘Together, hand in hand, they now praise the Lord of lords …’
Francophone Africa mourns the loss of two evangelical church leaders
Francophone Africa mourns the loss, within two weeks from each other, of two leading fathers of the evangelical church: Dr René Daïdanso and Dr Isaac Zokoué.
Dr Nupanga Weanzana in Bangui is a prominent contemporary church leader and a Langham Writer, as well as the Langham Preaching Country Coordinator for the Central African Republic (CAR). He shared with us how difficult this loss has been for him.
It came at a politically challenging time in CAR, and soon after the personal loss of his own father in July 2014. He writes:
Early in July my father passed away in Gemena … I went through a very difficult time, close to depression, but the Lord has helped me to regain energy.
Dr Nupanga had barely recovered from this personal bereavement when he heard that, ‘Dr Zokoué had passed away. He is the one who brought me where I am now. In 1995, he called me to be the vice-president of BEST (Bangui Evangelical School of Theology, now FATEB) … When he went for a sabbatical in South Africa for six months he gave me the opportunity to learn how to run a school …’
Immediately on return from Dr Zokoué’s funeral, there was the news that also his pastor, Dr René Daïdanso, had been called home: ‘He was my teacher at BEST … and later I worked with him again when he was the Executive Secretary for the Theological Commission of AEA (Africa Evangelical Association).’
The passing of these two spiritual leaders has been a painful loss for the church, not just in CAR but across the region.
Dr Solomon Andria is a Langham Writer and the Langham Literature Coordinator for Francophone Africa, based in Côte d’Ivoire. He is the editor of a forthcoming Hippo Livre introduction to the theological contribution of René Daïdanso. He expressed his deep sorrow and bereavement of these two inspirational mentors by writing the following poem (here translated from the original in French):
Humour and Sovereignty
Humour makes us laugh, they say;
No, it makes us suffer.
Its logic is so singular,
Its deeds so unexpected.
In his eternal plan, God determined the birth of the older
brother and the younger brother: one on the 1st of March and
the other on September 17, in the same year, 1944.
The older brother and the younger met for the first
time at Fort-Lamy in Chad, in high school.
Yet one was from Chad,
The other from Oubangui-Chari.
The older brother went to Vaux to learn from God;
The younger brother followed.
The older and the younger, after their studies, decide to return
to Africa, one after the other, to serve God – for more than 40 years:
One in N’djamena, Nairobi, and N’djamena;
The other in Bangui, Abidjan, and Bangui.
And they see each other from time to time, all across Africa;
French-speaking Africa became the parish they shared.
And then … the older brother could have gone on to Eternity
some time ago, so they say, but he was waiting for the younger
brother. And from courtesy, or rather, from Love, the older
brother let the younger brother precede him, by exactly 15
days! For one went on September 12 and the other on September 27,
in the same year, 2014.
There the older brother will no longer preach,
The younger brother will no longer teach.
But together, hand in hand, this time like twins, they will
praise the Lord of lords, the King of kings, ‘Alleluia’, as they
await the rest,
… the rest of us, the younger younger brothers.
Who would have believed that René Daïdanso and Isaac Zokoué
would share their history to such a degree?
This is God’s humour, with its singular logic
and its unexpected deeds,
A humour that makes us suffer … and yet with hope.
‘Tsimialona’ (Solomon), the very young brother, smiling through tears
We can express our fellowship with the mourning church in Francophone Africa at this time and intercede for them. May God anoint and enable servants who will take up the mantle of these two beloved pastors, teachers and leaders.
by Solomon Andria for Langham Literature