“We are called to reach the lost, so we opened our doors and our hearts to the lost.”
Vinjelu Muyaba and his wife, Kathryn, are lead pastors of Lighthouse Fellowship in Wetaskiwin, Alberta. They have a great love for the community they serve. Having grown up surrounded by poverty in Zambia, Vinjelu brings a fresh vision for reaching a needy and broken world. They have nine children: Million, Esther, Francis, Seth, Lexsina, Taliah, Elizabeth, Chawezi, and Hezekiah.
Q 1: Tell us a bit about your family … and your nine kids!
I come from a very dysfunctional family. When I became a Christian, I truly saw God as a Father who had adopted me into His family. My wife and I have always marvelled at the Father’s love and His willingness to adopt those who are lost, [so] we have opened our own home to those in need. We adopted five siblings in 2016. We did it as a family with the agreement of our four biological children. We have our hard moments, but those are few compared to our times of great joy. The core desire of our family is to live out God’s love in very practical ways. Our youngest child, Hezekiah, four, was in many ways the one who melted the hearts of our adopted children and drew them into our family. Our biological six-year-old’s best friend is his adopted 10-year-old sister. Our biological 10-year-old and our adopted 11-year-old boys are crazy about soccer, and that gives them a bond. Our 16-year-old adopted daughter is a gem who is engaged in every part of our family life and takes on many responsibilities. Our oldest child just got married in Zambia, and I officiated at the wedding. He already has a little baby who is two months old. We are grandparents in our thirties! We are truly blessed.
Q 2: How did growing up in Zambia shape your approach to pastoring?
Zambia has many charismatic churches, and there is often an emphasis on the eventof church at the expense of beingthe church. Christianity needs to be a daily way of living. Zambia also has a lot of poverty, so I tend to encourage people to be open to the poor, both spiritually and physically. And Zambia has a very warm culture, similar to Hebraic culture and, incidentally, First Nations culture. Drawing on Scripture, I challenge Lighthouse to high levels of community. The similarity between Zambian culture and First Nations culture helps me to be more effective in ministry to our First Nations community.
Q 3: What vision has God given you for Lighthouse?
The vision came from Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” I was praying with two ladies for the church [when] God gave me a vision of our sanctuary filled with light that emanated from the people in the church. The light spilled out of every window and door, lighting up the outside. That’s why we have named the church Lighthouse Fellowship.
Q 4: Which things have been key to the revitalization you are seeing at Lighthouse?
First, it was a focus on children. The people leading our ministry to children are passionate. They love children and have vision for their spiritual capacity. Then I’d say obedience—simply doing the next thing that God is asking, even though it seems risky. God says that obedience is better than sacrifice. We are told in Scripture to care for the poor, the outcast, the homeless and orphans. We are called to reach the lost, so we opened our doors and our hearts to the lost. This meant that the homeless and the addicts felt welcomed at our church. Obedience also means not compromising the message [so the] truth is preached with love and creativity.Lastly, I’d say vision. Lighthouse is a church where people cometo the Light, learn how to livein the light, and bethe light in their world. Come. Live. Be. It has made Lighthouse a space that people are drawn to. Community is being built through small groups, Sunday lunches and ministry teams. And people are engaging their world in real and tangible ways through our food pantry and clothing racks, our Justice Café and missions.
Q 5: How has the congregation responded to the growth, and what kind of spiritual growth have you seen in them?
We’ve had people leave the church because they felt it was too messy, but we’ve had many more come and fall in love with the vision. We are seeing salvations, and the level of ownership has grown. When the homeless started coming, I was the one who would talk with them because I knew them. Now they are cared for and ministered to by a majority of the congregation. Also, when we began our Sunday lunches, almost all the congregants would leave because they were not used to staying after church every Sunday. Now most of the congregation stays for lunch.
Q 6: What are some challenges facing Lighthouse that we as a Fellowship can pray for?
Our current lease ends in November 2019, so we are looking for a new space for the church, the Justice Café, and our ministry to the homeless and addicts. We don’t have the financial capacity to build a facility big enough to accommodate what we are already doing, let alone what we envision doing. The other challenge is the tension between drawing unchurched people to the church while also helping believers mature. Pray that God would give the leadership wisdom as they lead, and that God would bring people with a heart for the lost and broken.
Q 7: What excites you the most about where God is leading Lighthouse?
There is more. We’re just scratching the surface of God’s purpose for Lighthouse. We’re excited to see people transformed by the power of God. God is leading Lighthouse to have a tangible impact on our city and across the world—that excites me!
Jordan Hageman is a freelance writer from Stoney Creek, Ont., and a regular contributor to testimony magazine. Photos courtesy Vinjelu Muyaba
This article appeared in the July/August 2018 issue of testimony, the bimonthly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.