published Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Worship week draws ministers from 5 countries

The Rev. Isaac Akoh, from Cameroon, claps along with a song during the first worship service of a four-day unity convention at the Chattanooga Choo Choo on Wednesday.  About 20 religious leaders from seven different countries are meeting for the convention to overcome stereotypes, language and cultural differences.
The Rev. Isaac Akoh, from Cameroon, claps along with a song during the first worship service of a four-day unity convention at the Chattanooga Choo Choo on Wednesday. About 20 religious leaders from seven different countries are meeting for the convention to overcome stereotypes, language and cultural differences.
Photo by Doug Strickland.

HOW TO HELP

The House of Restoration International Ministries is collecting vitamins, medication and clothes to send to African countries. Call Cindy Thomas at 423-486-7767 to donate.

More than a dozen religious leaders from five countries overcame cultural differences, distance and language barriers Wednesday to talk about their ministries.

"Instead of allowing our culture, traditions, our skin color, our languages, even our spirituality to become a barrier, we will walk in harmony with each other so that when we minister, we are not ministering brokeness and separation, but we're ministering the love of God," said Cindy Thomas, founder of the House of Restoration International Ministries in Chattanooga.

Thomas is hosting the third International Week of Worship, a five-day conference that began Wednesday at the Chattanooga Choo Choo and is set to end at Olivet Baptist Church on Sunday.

To attend the conference, ministers have come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Switzerland, South Africa, Sierra Leone and the United States.

"Everywhere you look around, man exalts himself," said the Rev. Stephen Kawilia of Zambia. "Everybody wants to do his own thing. But that is not the plan of God. The plan of God is unity, corporate worship."

The unity among ministers occurring in Chattanooga this week isn't common in Africa, said the Rev. Mae Sanders, prophetess and founder of First Fruit Ministries.

"What you're seeing today is unheard of in Africa," said Sanders, who traveled to the continent with Thomas. "If you're a part of this region, you don't come to the other region. Her [Thomas'] goal is to bring all the ministers on one accord."

Thomas had the dream of bringing religious leaders together after she started visiting African countries in 2004. She has taken multiple trips every year to Africa since then, and she saw people there separated by skin color or how they dressed, as well. Some even were separated based on whether they used utensils when they ate, she said.

People all over the world are suffering, Thomas said.

She is asking local churches to donate vitamins and medicines that may be sent back to the African countries. She's also collecting clothes, socks, shoes and undergarments.

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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