Ester, whom we lovingly refer to as our Mozambican daughter, calls her children’s club The Righteous Generation Children’s Center (Centro Infantil Geração Justa). Many of the children in attendance (young ones Saturday morning; youth meet Saturday afternoon) come from traditional Islamic families.
While Ester’s main objective is to introduce the children to Christ, she also teaches them math, and reading & writing in both Portuguese and English. At one point she lost about half of her kids due to upset Muslim parents who discovered she was teaching about Jesus. Yet the children began to return during the subsequent weeks and she continues to have approximately 40 students each Saturday.
Out of the blue one day a few of the Muslim mothers showed up to speak with Ester. They expressed how pleased they were that their children are now obeying them because of her teaching. They wondered if she would be willing to teach them every day! Well, she isn’t able to do that, but now she has also decided to start a women’s Discovery Bible Study with some of these women. Now they can discover what their children are discovering about a personal God who loves them.
Now four of the older children have expressed a desire to receive Christ and be baptized, which normally we’d simply rejoice and go to the lake! But this act poses a potential problem within their strong Muslim village community who will ostracize or chasten the child or family unit and may potentially destroy the established children’s group. Please pray with us for God’s wisdom…
Their marriage was all but over. They had been separated for about one year and Luciano was losing hope of Lucia ever returning to him. We even drove him the 70km one day to where she was farming because Luciano was told she wanted to come back. For whatever reason we came back without her.
Even I was beginning to doubt this would ever work out, nonetheless I and the team continued to encourage Luciano to pray “hard” (as we say in Africa). Pray hard he did and God answered. A second call, a second trip to the bush, and Lucia came home with their six kids to live again with her husband.
But the story doesn’t end there. Just yesterday Luciano told me that Lucia has been asking him to pray together with her. I can’t tell you what a breakthrough this is! Today, we all hopped into my truck again to bring Lucia back to the bush to farm their land. No worries though, they are committed in their relationship. The couple have agreed to send her back to the bush to work the farm for next year’s maize. Luciano will visit each week while looking for piece work.
What blessed me the most was what Luciano did just before we all got into the truck for the two hour journey. He gathered his family and me to join hands in a circle and he prayed with a sizable crowd of family and neighbors looking on. Don’t have a clue about what he said (in Yao) but I can tell you it was strong and passionate.
Perhaps this story doesn’t tickle your fancy (whatever that means), but it does give me a glimmer of hope; whereas just yesterday I was struggling with the seemingly impenetrable darkness we live with here among the Yao.
Things go better with prayer. This is why we come together on Mondays as a team – knowing that Satan will not just lie down and surrender his hold on the Yao. The spiritual battle is intense and manifests itself in various ways, but we know Who has already won the war. We also swap God stories as we see how the Lord is moving in our different areas of ministry.
A couple of years ago I met a man deep in the bush while cutting down some trees for my fence. His name was Musa (Moses). I was amazed because he was wearing a shirt which said in English “I love Jesus”. He was a Muslim man, but I knew I needed to speak with him about Jesus, after all, he was the one with the shirt.
At the first opportunity I went to his grass house in Kawagu and was warmly received by his wife. We had some beautiful times of sharing and even prayed together. They were both so open to the Gospel it was amazing. At one point we even met the chief of his village hoping to establish an outreach there. That was during a difficult time of transition in our ministry and somehow we lost touch with Musa.
A year of so later, however, I had the chance to meet Musa in the city to pray over him as he was sick. His other wife greeted us warmly as well. Note: Musa has been married to two wives for 45 years! He has one in a distant village and one in the city of Lichinga. God healed Musa that day but it was the last time I saw him.
Now at our Monday morning sharing time Tony tells me that Musa sent his wife to David’s home in Chuwia to invite us to come to his house to teach them about God. I was blown away! Guess where I’m going as soon as possible?
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?
Leaving at daybreak for a two day drive to Monapo. Doing a bush conference there for our pastors/leaders for three days (Mon, Tue, Wed). I’ll be staying at the Hilton Tent Inn. The room is 10 x 10 with an air mattress and even a little fan for those hot nights. Food is provided by the locals. Most likely shema (corn mash), veggies and/or bits of chicken. I will be taking my own coffee and water, however. For those who like to pray – remember my dear wife at home alone, and of course our travels and conference (going with 3 guys from our team). The car is loaded, clean, and ready for the bush. I’m ready as I’m gonna be. Just trusting Jesus to get us there, be a blessing to these lovely people, and get us back. (photos to come, maybe even a video!)
Cobue (pronounced Cobe-way) is a district bordering Tanzania. Tony and I traveled 246km to the farthest point north one can travel in Mozambique by car, stopping in three different villages.
Village #1: Nkhwendusi. Our new friend Sitanile hosted us and provided a very special meal. Around the campfire that night I ate porcupine for the first time. It was tender and delicious. Sitanile will be hosting the first DBS in his village as well as providing land and labor for us to plant a rice field. This is part of God’s way of providing for our GHIM team and ministry.
Village #2: Mtumba-Cobue. Here we met a small group of Christians who are asking us to come and help them learn how to evangelize through DBS. Tony’s friend Benison and family (see below) along with his friend Jonathan are asking us to come. This village is impossible to reach by car during the rainy season but a trip up the lake on the local ferry will get us there.
Village #3: Mataka. So on the way home we stopped here to pick someone up and met these two old guys (78 & 80). They asked what we were doing and then expressed disappointment that we would leave them out. John said: “I know many people in the villages all around here. Although I cannot go to invite them to come (to DBS) I will send young men to do it!” I said (to Tony): Seems like we have a man of peace here.” How can we refuse?!
I arrived home to this – spectacular gardens on our property. While we were away, Tony and Nelson (two of our team members caring for our home) went crazy on growing produce! End result: Besides the gardens providing food for their own families and other team members, profits from the sale went to buying bibles; feeding the poor; and blessing those at the local hospital who have to provide food for their sick loved ones.
This is a dream come true. I had talked about the vision for our Mozambican team to start projects, specifically gardens, for the goal of them becoming less dependent upon us and western funds, and more independent. This is vital to the health of any indigenous work. Those that depend solely on western funds will suffer and most likely fail when those funds cease. We helped in as much as it takes to get things started by purchasing the seed, etc., but the ongoing work it takes is up to them.
Just today we began the process of purchasing a couple of large lots down by the river for a huge garden. Thanks to our supporters we were able to make this purchase and already the team is excited to make it happen. From the proceeds of the produce they will adequately supply the needs of many, including those of the ongoing village outreaches. We are now in almost 30 villages in just 6 months! Dozens of people are gathering in four districts to hear stories about God in the Bible. Many are turning to faith in Christ.
In addition to the newly purchased garden, Tony and I will be visiting a place to the north where we have been given the opportunity to grow rice – a lot of rice. I mean huge quantities which we can use for the ministry! Seems God has a green thumb and is making a way for us to expand the ministry, meet the needs of the poor, supply the team with food, and reach more people for Jesus! Go God!