As I sit here on Friday evening listening to my iPod on speakers whose batteries died two days ago, yet continue to blast out God’s praises, I am reminded of His goodness and how much He cares about the little things. In the interest of not claiming anything the enemy wants to put on me, I believe it’s safe to say that I have been experiencing the manifestations of sickness in increasing measure for the past few days. This morning I woke up with a sore throat and have been ridding myself of sinus infection all day, partly due to the three onions I chopped up last night. My nose has not stopped running since! I have spent most of the day in bed sleeping, worshiping, praying, and listening to sermon podcasts. I had an e-mail from a friend this morning reminding me that God wants me to rest and drink Him up. How prophetic!
I have had a good last month in Dondo, Mozambique. It was only supposed to be a three weeks at this base, but it’s turned into a few month trip. To give you a little info about the base here, they have a children’s center of 29 boys, a Bible school housing & training around 50 men to become pastors, 9 missionaries (4 of us are here temporarily), and several visiting missionaries that come & go. We are also blessed with a wonderful Mozambican mechanic who lets us use his personal vehicle almost every day because 4 of our 5 vehicles are broken down.
== Outreach Ministry =====
I have not had much opportunity to participate in outreach ministry here due to the lack of working vehicles. Most of the time I’ve been here we’ve only had one vehicle that works (a large flat-bed truck with problematic headlights), which generally puts a halt to most ministry off the base. If you have a heart to help do something about this, I would be glad to hook you up with the details on how to bless these people. Thankfully the hospital and prison are within walking distance.
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such a faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” – James 2:14-17 (NIV)
I had the blessing of going and praying for all of the sick children at the hospital. They were sectioned off into three large rooms – malaria, infectious/contageous diseases, and everything else. We saw several babies with malaria healed of their fevers, so we pray they were also healed of the malaria. We also saw some babies that make you sad just looking at them. One that really stuck out to me was a three month old baby who was severely malnourished. His head was smaller than the palm of my hand. In talking to the mom, we found out she had stopped producing breast milk soon after the baby was born. Further conversation revealed the likely cause – most days she wasn’t able to eat because what little food she got she distributed to her other children. We prayed for a long time over the mother and child and in the spirit of James 2:15 went out and bought her some bananas, peanuts, bread, baby formula, and a bottle.
I have also had the opportunity to lead worship in the local prison. Our prison ministry is led by a local guy who gave his life to Jesus while in prison and changed his whole life. He has a passion to go and speak to them about how God has transformed his life and made him into a new person. It was a blessing to minister to them as well and see the passion in their hearts.
== Worship Ministry =====
So I have to say that sometimes God is just ridiculous, in a good way of course! He has been pouring out Portuguese on me while I’m leading worship. Most of you that know me know that I’m not a verse-chorus-verse-chorus kind of worship leader. I am much more led by the Spirit and spontaneous than that. Well the same has been happening in Portuguese here. Through the Holy Spirit, I have been translating songs on the fly, praying and singing spontaneously in Portuguese, and leading worship for sometimes hours at a time. It just makes me laugh. It is so ridiculously not me that it’s hilarious. I still struggle to have basic conversations in Portuguese, although I have had many full conversations with people without a translator! …which is a miracle in itself.
Worship has been great here. God’s presence is thick here when we enter into worship. Sometimes it just takes your breath away! I have been leading worship for Tuesday night home group, for the Bible school, for random nights, and I am going to start leading worship on Sunday mornings this weekend.
== Discipleship =====
Saying that the need for discipleship in Mozambique is great is the understatement of the year. Many churches that are started on evangelistic outreaches might not get another visit for several years. So when they send men to Bible school to become pastors, that is a loose term. For many, it is more of a course on basic Christianity. For example… The second week I was here, they all arrived here from break. (Bible school terms are three months.) The day after arriving, they got together and had a riot of sorts demanding an “offering” of money for their families or they were all going to go home – at Iris’ expense. Obviously we found several things wrong with this. “Demand” and “offering” generally are not found in the same sentence! Second, they have just arrived here to stay for three months, so how would this cash possibly benefit their families? Third, these people are here, some for several terms in a row, to become pastors! Fourth, they expected us to pay to send them home after we just paid to bring them here! Jeez!
So there they are, outside the missionary houses, yelling and carrying on. What did I do? I went and got my guitar and decided to get in the middle of them and worship in Portuguese! After being mocked and howled at for about 10 minutes while I sang my heart out to jesus, they all disappeared back to their houses. Unfortunately none of them felt like worshiping God that day. Ha ha.
In the end, 15 of them went home, even some from the literacy school. Apparently the free transportation to and from Bible school, the free education, three meals a day, beds with mattresses, bathrooms with plumbing, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, and toilet paper, and bag of rice at the end of school to take back to their families were just not enough for those 15 men. The lack of free cash to blow up-front was the deal-breaker for them. :-/ Fortunately, we have 50 students here who are eager to learn more about Jesus and they say the atmosphere in classes is much more positive this term without the people who are here just for the money.
I have also had the opportunity to teach some 16 and 17 year old guys some new guitar chords and Portuguese and English worship music. We have spent hours in the prayer hut practicing and worshiping spontaneously. I have had the blessing of teaching them how to lead worship and not just sing songs… to share my heart about leading people into intimacy and encounter and not just in song-singing. It has been fruitful! They regularly come get our guitars and practice the new songs I’ve taught them, worship on their own, and even been writing their own worship music. Their favorite song I’ve translated is All Consuming Fire by Misty Edwards. I hear kids singing that all the time around the base which is pretty awesome.
== In Closing =====
Practically speaking, I am putting my computer skills to good use here. I have spent a lot of time creating a web database to keep track of all of the children and emlpoyees – adoption records, clothing distribution, incidents, etc. It is still a work in progress as the internet is really slow here during the day and right now I am working off random borrowed laptops. We are also planning to get a database up and running for the Sofala province to track widow/orphan food distribution and evangelism/discipleship for the local churches. This in itself is a much bigger project than three weeks. I could do all of the programming from home, but collecting accurate data is such a work in itself that it warranted me staying here to get the job done right. Thankfully as of Monday, I will have a dedicated laptop for the rest of my stay here, so I expect the project to move at a much faster pace over the next several weeks.
The other reason I felt led to stay is because of the need at this base. God has really given me a heart for the people here – Mozambican and otherwise. My ministry here is valued and my practical skills are in high demand. I am valued and appreciated here, and I know that what I am doing here is making a Kingdom impact..