Our garden (orta) is coming along very well. Tony, Nelson, and Luciano are planting it with many different veggies in hopes of a good harvest.
All proceeds will go to help the ministry needs. They are using the traditional African hoe (below) to till the ground.
If you look very carefully you will see the tin roof of our home in the top far left corner.
If you’ve read the last article you know that our church family in Lago are being harassed and threatened by Muslim leaders. They have threatened to beat them if they continue.
Up until now the folks have been gathering in a field outside the village just to avoid persecution if possible (but it hasn’t worked). Then last Monday they lost their gathering place to a huge whirlwind on their day of prayer and fasting!
Even with all this trouble the Lord is adding to their number and they have decided that they are tired of the Muslim threats. So what now? They have been emboldened to build a gathering place right smack in the village. The Lord has given them boldness. All the devil has done to shut them down has brought the opposite effect expected! They are going for Jesus and they won’t allow fear to influence them any longer!
If you’ve read this article would you do us the favor of responding with a short encouragement for these folk? I will send copies of the notes with Pastor Paul. Maybe the Lord would give you a Scripture? Send it to us! They need to be encouraged!
They meet in the bush for their own safety. Due to recent threats of anti-Christian Muslims, who are determined to stop this “deception” of Christianity, they gather outside the village in a local machamba (farm). Some who once joined them have ceased attending meetings due to direct threats from Muslim leaders in their village. Uzebio, a Muslim leader called a shehe, came to visit the gathering just to intimidate and warn those in attendance to stop lest they suffer. The threat is real, but more real to these former Muslims is the love they have for Jesus Christ. Their lives have been changed and they cannot deny it. They cannot, and they will not return to Islam. Jesus has healed many of them, and in one testimony the Yao woman pictured below declared: “Now I have peace in my home”.
Traveling by foot over two mountain ridges or from a nearby village, the people gather as the church in a makeshift cover made of logs and tall, dried grass. The ceiling is overlain with dried corn stocks and is too low to stand under comfortably. For this reason Pastor Paul suggested some of them move outside the structure so they could stand. I jokingly suggested that a short woman must have built this structure and we all laughed together. There are no chairs, just logs to sit on or perhaps a burlap sack, but this lack of modern conveniences does not rob the Church of Lago the joy of worship. (click here for video: clp2 ). Their hunger for the Word of God is intense enough for them to sit through two sermons.
And when they pray the cacophony of voices, though relatively small in number, booms across the mountainous valley. When it comes to prayer here in Africa it is very much like how they prayed in the book of Acts, raising their voices in one accord – everyone prays out loud at the same time.
Before we left many received prayer for healing. Nothing dramatic happened that day, but these people know that God saves, heals, and delivers. Some who were once “out of their minds” have been set free by the power of the name of Jesus. As we began saying good bye, they asked if we might come every week, for they want to hear the Words of God. Because of Paul’s commitments to his church in the city he was only able to commit to coming twice per month. Yet, God is raising up this church. One day we will identify the pastor whom God chooses to shepherd them.
As you pray remember your brothers and sisters in Christ in the village of Mazogo, and for Akina, a shehe who has received Christ and is now under much presure from Uzebio and other Muslim leaders in the area. Pray for them to have boldness and that many more of their Muslim friends and family will turn to Christ. Pray for their protection, and if God allows them to suffer for His name’s sake, pray that they endure it with grace and the joy of the Holy Spirit for this great privilege.
While speaking about the importance of the Word of God in our lives I asked for a show of hands of those who do not have Bibles. My heart sank as nearly every one of the 50 or so at our first bush conference raised their hands. This was a conference of “leaders” in the Church. Ouch! Double ouch! Ouch, Ouch, Ouch! Needless to say one of my first priorities upon returning home is to find Bibles in Makua. There were a handful of Makua New Testaments and only two full Makua Bibles among them.
One of the topics I was asked to address at this conference is the question: “Can a Christian have more than one wife?” This is a very relevant subject, especially among the Muslims toward whom we minister. As Muslims are coming to Christ, even Mosque leaders, called Imams, they come with multiple wives. Another question which arose in our bush conference as I was addressing the subject of witchcraft was this: “If I am sick is it good to go to the witchdoctor?” Now it seems like a no-brainer to you and me, but these people have grown up with witchdoctors. Going to the witchdoctor for a cure, a curse (to put on your enemy), or protection (from your enemy), or for blessing upon your love life, or your machamba (farm), or for a charm to put on your children for their health, etc., is as normal as going to the store to you and me. Why would going to the store be wrong?
At first I drove away from the conference feeling pretty good. Some of the men who were there last time I spoke had stood to testify how their lives had changed. I’m confident that the Holy Spirit will continue to purify their lives as they learn more about God, His love, and how the Christian life is to be lived. Then I realized that my ability to help these guys is very limited as I am only with them once or twice per year. There is a need to have someone live among them who can continually teach them the Word of God. I’m praying for that. I will send one of my Makua speaking guys to be with them for one month but I am praying for a more permanent solution. Will you pray with me for your church family in Monapo?