Trip to visit rural churches- Part 3

Up at first light to the sound of children, men, and women. Bathed, broke camp, then drove to the Shire (She Ree) River to see canoes that act as taxis on the river. The canoes are made from a single hollowed log, about 25′ long, with walls about 30” high when standing inside. We thought we had come down to the river to cross over to visit the church, but not so. They just pointed out to us the direction of the church across the river. Back to the church for breakfast of rice porridge with sugar, a short parting meeting, then down the “road” about 25 km to another church. Greeted with children and women singing “you have arrived.”

First stop today was Kangazira. It began as a Reformed Church, but the preacher stopped preaching one year when there was a food shortage. Pedro visited the area and encouraged him (the preacher) to keep preaching, to no avail. Pedro encouraged another man (from the Church of Christ) to preach there, along with his (Pedro’s) visits. It is now, by Pedro’s account, a strong church of about 50.

We all 3 preached. By the time I spoke (3rd) it was incredibly hot, people were tired, and maybe I wasn’t connecting too well. Pedro told me to wrap it up, so I did. They served us lunch of Coke and cookies, then down the road 5 km to the next church at Cherembwe.

Cherembwe – Had about 30+ present. HOT! HOT! Always greeted with singing. When we arrived, they seemed listless (I was too, in that heat!). Service began at about 11:30 am. The Senna people sing with clapping, tin-can shakers, a drum, dancing, and occasional trilling. (These are churches started by preachers trained by acapella church of Christ missionaries.) Most songs are 4-40 songs – 4 words repeated 40 times (or more). When they like something you say, they shout out “amen, amen, amen, amen.”

Once they started singing they got very animated and listened to the lessons very attentively. There are always lots of children. This church had very few men; maybe because they were working. Children follow you everywhere and watch every move. In this church (we didn’t see this anywhere else) when they prayed, one man started the prayer, then everybody began praying together out loud, then quieted down and the leader finished the prayer.

I spoke 1st this time. 1 Corinthians 12, one body, then Ephesians 5, one flesh in marriage. Dionisio went 2nd and followed up on my lesson with lots of applications of loving your spouse, don’t let Satan come into your house; pray and obey.

We were served another lunch of Coke and cookies, then they brought rice and chicken. It was the toughest chicken I have ever had, I think (until the next time we had chicken).

This area has lots of coconut palms, palmettos, bananas, lots of mangoes, papaya, neem, kapok, and other types of palms. They use the palmetto bark for rope and the stems for construction. They use palm trunks for rafters.

Problems in the Cherembwe church – no Bibles, no transportation, frequent floods, and often no food (because of the floods). They asked for our prayers. (They live in the flood plain of a large river. The government has repeatedly asked them to move and offered to give them new lands. When it does flood – every few years, the government evacuates them by helicopter, puts them into camps, and gives them food. Why would they want to move?)

Pedro translates 3 times at every stop. He is very energetic and animated. He has a strong, commanding preaching voice. There was a missionary in this area before Jacob who paid Pedro a salary and helped him with purchasing things like a bicycle. Jacob will not do those things. He (Pedro) can be manipulative and can’t always be taken at his word. Jacob started a cattle project at the Cherembwe church, which was progressing pretty well.

One day Pedro called (the church is in his area) and said the cattle had been stolen. Dionisio (who works closely with Jacob) called the local police and inquired. They looked into it and reported back that the cattle were not stolen and were just fine, and that Pedro had intended to sell the cattle to buy himself a motorcycle.

Dionisio is very personable. When he preaches he stands straight as an arrow and goes right to the point. He is animated, and authoritative, uses lots of illustrations and examples(necessary for Africans). His delivery is excellent, and his content is very Biblical and relevant. He is an evangelist who has attended Bible college, started a number of new churches, and is now Jacob & Jaynie’s farm manager. In addition to having started a new church on the farm, for which he preaches, he also travels with Jacob when he visits rural churches, functioning as liaison and a fellow preacher.

Jacob speaks softly and invitingly. He is a good teacher and knows how to make it very relevant to the Africans. He has been in Mozambique for 21 years now, after spending 16 in Zimbabwe. He preaches in Portuguese.

3rd Stop – Kasana. 25 – 30 people. Jacob spoke on David and Goliath. He asked them what their giants were, and got no response (that’s common). He asked them about AIDS, malaria, poverty, and transportation and they responded to each one with a resounding Yes. I spoke on Elisha and his servant when Elisha prayed that God would open his eyes to see the horses and chariots of fire all around – He that is in you is stronger than he that is in the world.

Treated to more Coke and cookies. They always bring unopened bottles of Coke, but seldom have a bottle opener. They generally use their teeth. Jacob carries one with him.

4th stop – arrived after dark at Chapepa. I spoke for about 10 minutes about our hope for eternal life when there will be no disease, death, or problems. Dionisio then spoke on Job 2 and encouraged them to build latrines. Jacob did not speak. Set up the Jesus Film. At about 9:30, when the film was finished the first time, they fed us dinner of Cheema and stewed chicken with tomato and onion. Washed off and to bed at about 10:30 while they watched the Jesus Film a second time.

They told us their problems are no Bibles, and no money to buy zinc panels for the roof of the church building. Jacob responded that they have money to buy cell phones and bicycles, that zinc is much hotter than thatch, and that some very large, expensive buildings have thatched roofs. That’s not what they wanted to hear.

I mentioned above that there are always lots of children. There is no birth control for the general population, and women have no voice in the home. AIDS is rampant here, as are malaria and other diseases. The life expectancy in Mozambique is no more than 45. Consequently, one sees lots of young children (many of whom die before adulthood) and a lot of young/ mid-life adults, but very few older people.

Life is hard here. Pray for your brothers and sisters in Mozambique.