On the Spot – Church Linked to Gruesome Murder Speaks [interview]

Ongwediva Four Square Church recently appeared in the media in connection with Hildegard Iiyambo a mother and teacher at Shapwa Primary School. She was arrested last week for the murder of her 26-year-old disabled daughter. Some media reports suggest that the church had a hand in the gruesome crime. This was allegedly based on Iiyambo’s responses when questioned by the police. New Era’s Nothern Regional Bureau Chief, Helvy Shaanika, spoke to Pastor Festus Negumbo, the leader of Ongwediva Four Square Church on the doctrine of the church and the relationship the church had with the accused, Iiyambo. New Era (NE): Please give us some background on the church and its doctrines.

Festus Negumbo (FN): Four Square started 18 years ago in Namibia. It is part of a denomination called the International Church of the Four Square Gospel that started in 1923 in Eco Park in Los Angeles, California. It is an international church currently serving in about 144 nations. That is what we are part of. The beliefs of the Four Square Church are expressed in the declaration of faith. The church believes in the verbal inspiration of the bible, the doctrine of the trinity and the deity of Jesus Christ. It believes that human beings are created in the image of God but because of the soul, are naturally depraved and sinful. It also believes in the substitutionary atonement accomplished by the death of Christ.

The church teaches that salvation is by grace through faith and not by good works. Believers are justified by faith and born again upon repentance and acceptance of Christ as Lord and King. Our classification is protestant and orientation is Pentecostal but in good simplicity. The International Church of Four Square Gospel commonly referred to as Four Square Church is an Evangelical Pentecostal Christian denomination. It is registered as a section 21 Company. It’s a non-profit company. Pure non-profit serving the community. We are part of the international denomination. Our website is there for those that want to know more about Four Square.

How many members does the church have and does Four Square have sister churches?

You talk of 300 members [at Ongwediva Four Square Church]. Ongwediva Four Square Church has other sister churches, we are talking of 18 churches. We are part of the Southern African Regional Four Square Churches and also part of the International Church of the Four Square Church.

The connection between the church and the accused. What is the connection? Has the church or the pastor been visiting the accused?

I think it is too premature to comment, the family is mourning, we are all shocked by this. Whatever one would say could be taken out of proportion. All that we want to say is that the church is not responsible for what happened and we also don’t know why it happened, nobody really knows what led to that. We know the children. I feel with them if I put myself in their shoes

Media reports said the children (or son) ran to the church for help. Is this true? And why do you think the son ran to the church for help and not to the police? Has the church been providing spiritual assistance?

We are known by the family and the church is always there to give help. So, the child called just to look for help. When he called [on us] he said he came home, found some burnt items, and the mother [had] locked herself in the house. The child needed help, so he called [on me] looking for assistance.

Should any member of the church complain of demons or evil spirits, how would the church deal with such matters? FN: Among our church members, the people who are born again, I have not heard [of] complaints about evil spirits but generally people experience that, not just [our] church members. But what the church does is to pray for the people who are troubled by the evil spirits. As the Bible says demons should be cast out. If a person brings this to the church, the church prays for the people.

If anyone would come to church complaining about demons and evil spirits, the church prays. We had a case of the fire boy who we took from the police station. We brought the boy to the church, people prayed and God set the boy free from that. If a case is brought to church or if we are called in the villages we go and pray. We go and pray and God delivers the people. The goal is [to] help people [and] not cause trouble as it is being reported.

Have you ever experienced a case in which a church member commits a crime or other inhumane activities and the public relates that to the church?

No. This was a surprise, or what is the right word? … that a church could be pulled into an individual action. This is the first time. The church is positive because people know the doctrine that the church teaches and they know that what was said in the newspapers about us is not true. So we don’t know about the community or how the general public is looking at the church. Of course I see that the media reports made an impact. I heard of a place where a kindergarten pupil was telling others that the pastor of that church (Ongwediva Four Square) had told the woman to kill her child. There has to be different interpretations among the public, but the truth always emerges.

How has this episode affected the church and its members and what is the church planning to do?

Are you now referring to the reports that the church told this mother to kill the child?

Yes

When we are discussing with other church members, because of the doctrines we teach much of what was said is not truthful and those that sit in our assembly know that that is not our church that teaches people to do that. So they feel it is not right for the church to be brought into these types of discussions and if anybody would do something like that outside, would that be linked to their church? It is not part of our doctrine and people know the truth. The members know that it is not true because we don’t teach such doctrine.

Who is pastor Negumbo? Do you have family, how did you become a pastor, what do you do when not preaching?

I am a husband and a father. I was ordained in 2 000. If I am not preaching, I do counselling, I participate in various [community activities]. I am the servant of the people. I serve when there is a need in our community. I am part of the management of the school that belongs to the church, so we are involved in many things as a church … we counsel, serve, encourage and teach and I am an agriculturalist. I am a farmer. I like farming.

Any other comment you wish to make.

It is an encouragement that the church has a mandate and every church is there, or should be there … I don’t want to speak for everybody to disciple the people. And that means to get the people in the process for them to grow and become like our Lord Jesus Christ. In character, in our behaviour, to follow what the word of God teaches. The church should not be viewed as an author or creator of problems, but the church is there to bring solutions to the challenges we face.

Some people will ask why the church did not solve this challenge (murder)? That has to do with whether I accept or do what I am taught, when I practise what I am taught, if I have become a doer of the word of God, obviously my behaviour, my character, will be different because morality is what God is aiming to see in the life of every human being. So as people created in His image, draw near to the Lord, let’s walk in the fear of the Lord, let us stay away from destructive things because life is a journey and we want to be well equipped on this journey.

Source : New Era