December 22, 2013
An African church group now has a place to call home just in time for Christmas.
Before even stepping foot inside of the Africa Lighthouse Baptist Temple in Albemarle County, you can hear the sounds of praise coming from the members of the church.
The songs and message are delivered in Swahili, a native tongue for many African people, and then translated into English.
The founder and pastor of the church came to Charlottesville from Kenya eight years ago and created ALBT to help African refugees and immigrants settle in Central Virginia.
“I started to meet African people, refugees coming in the area,” says Peter Chege, pastor of ALBT. “I was already going to a good church and I started to invite them and before long we were meeting in my home and having a bible study every week.”
Their services used to be held in Greenbrier Elementary school in Charlottesville, but more and more families joined, creating a need for a more permanent space.
“This building gives us identity, it gives us a home where our kids can be kids, they can play soccer, we don't have to be on a timer,” says Chege. “So we needed a place to kind of relax.”
Tina Njoroge helps translate English and Swahili for many of the members and also helps during the services.
“I'm very happy to come here in America,” says Derick Gasore Muchembe in Swahili as Njorge translates in English. “It's a very nice country of peace.”
Muchembe is a refugee from Congo. His home country is at war so he came to Charlottesville with his wife and children with the help of the international rescue committee.
Pastor Chege hopes that with the help of volunteers in the community, his refugee and immigrant members will be able to learn English and get settled in the Charlottesville area.
ALBT is looking for donations to help with the purchase of their new church and for more information on how you can help you can click on the link under the picture.