A Journey Worth Taking

October 24, 2023

HOUSTON – The Houston United African Seventh-day Adventist Church celebrated a milestone on Sabbath, July 1, 2023, with a mortgage burning. Not figuratively or metaphorically, but a paper document is literally set on fire as a symbolic act signifying the mortgage is free and clear. Witnessed by a packed congregation, United African church pastor Emmanuel Abar, head elder Samuel Nwankwoala, church treasurer Christie Sujata and Randy Terry, Texas Conference treasurer, participated in this ceremonious event.

“It is always an honor and privilege to participate in a mortgage burning,” Terry remarked. “It shows the dedication and commitment of its members to continue growing as a congregation and a light of hope for their community.”

As the document was set ablaze, there was joyous singing and a jubilant atmosphere. If you have ever owned a home in the United States, you would agree that it is perhaps the most expensive purchasing event one could undertake. Little wonder there is usually a feeling of reprieve and excitement following the completion of a mortgage payment over decades. When this happens, you can set the document on fire to signify the annihilation of a debt that had held you “captive” for years.

The church was organized on Jan. 27, 1996, as the First African Seventh-day Adventist Church in Houston. At that time, under the leadership of the late Gibson Nkosi, they rented a space at the Braeburn Presbyterian church building on 9595 Braes Bayou Drive.

As membership continued to grow under the leadership of retired pastor Gilbert Jacob, a building was purchased from the Presbyterian congregation on Jan. 24, 2007. The amortization for the mortgage was scheduled for 20 years.

Over the years, several stewardship drives were organized to encourage members to give towards this project. The 30/60 initiative was introduced to encourage members to commit to giving at least $30 a week or $60 every 2 weeks to keep up with our annual budget. Notably, in April of 2021, a passionate appeal from the stewardship department saw members commit to pay a minimum of $1,000 in weekly installments of $25 until the end of that year. This exercise bore much fruit and brought the church closer to its goal. Indeed, God loves a cheerful giver!

By God’s special mercies and providence, this mortgage was completed over a period of 16 years with former pastor Juneroy Nugent and current pastor Abar. The church mortgage was officially completed on April 17, 2023, with evidence that it is not by power nor might but by God’s grace.

Southwestern Union Executive Secretary Stephen Brooks shared the message, “Where Do We Go From Here?” He reminded the church of Jesus paying off our debt on the cross and declaring us debt-free. The church was charged to move beyond just being members and on-lookers to being disciples of Christ.

By Asonye Onwudebe, Jr.