II Corinthians 9:9
"As it is written, He [the benevolent person] scatters abroad; He gives to the poor; His deeds of justice and goodness and kindness and benevolence will go on and endure forever."
Written by Tim Maguire, National Ministry leader in South Africa
There were two reasons for my recent trip to Mozambique. The first was to attend and present at their annual Easter conference. The second was to dig a well, to provide our members, as well as others within the vicinity of our church in Morrumbala with fresh and easily accessible drink water. Thanks to the financial support of GCI Canada, as well the Indianapolis congregation in USA and our local Johannesburg congregation, both of these were hugely successful, and have changed the lives of many.
After four days of hard travelling, we arrived in Morrumbala a day later than we had planned, as progress was extremely slow, with two vans towing two heavily laden trailers, over some very bad roads. I had stopped in Chimoio to pick up a translator, Lawrence, who I had used previously when visiting in Mozambique. Fortunately he was able to let our leaders in Morrumbala know that we had been delayed and they continued with the first day of the conference without us. The theme of this year's conference was "Our Hope in Christ". Hope in Him becomes so much easier to grasp when I see the hopelessness that so many in places like Mozambique live.
Seventy eight Pastors from the four Northern and Central Provinces of Mozambique were extremely happy and grateful to be part of the conference. Due to really poor transportation and lack of finances, our leadership is not able to meet with the many congregations across the country, and the Easter conference is an opportunity for them to come together and celebrate their communion in Christ, as well as share and fellowship with each other. Not only did the pastors attend, but four hundred other members from the region also made their way to the little village known as Fraqueza (just outside the town of Morrumbala) where GCI Mozambique has established their headquarters. The welcome when we arrived was truly moving, as they showed their appreciation of us being there through song and dance. We pitched our tents in the dark and fell asleep to the sounds of fellowship and song lasting into the early hours of the morning.
The plan had been to rise early Saturday morning and visit with the local chief, to inform him of our presence within the region, as well as get his permission to dig the well. Unfortunately, one of our Moz members had passed away in the night, and we awoke to the unmistakeable sounds of mourning, African style. I accompanied Mariano Binzi, our Mozambique National Leader to offer condolences to the bereaved family. The lady who had passed away had been ill for some time, although no one was sure of the exact cause. Her husband had passed away two years ago, and she now left her mother to raise her four children.
Eventually we did get to see the chief after a breakfast of maize porridge, and once we had finished negotiating a price to be paid to him, to allow us to dig the well in his region, (Yep, it didn't make sense to me either!!!) I joined the rest of the well digging team (Mike Rabe, Dawie Maree and two labourers with well digging experience we had brought with us from SA) to decide on the site for the proposed well. After much discussion we finally decided that the well should be dug on the property that the church had recently bought, and where a headquarters church building has been planned.
When we asked Lawrence the translator to enquire as to whether they had any idea how deep we may need to dig (we had previously been told to expect to dig up to 15m before hitting water) we were informed that just two months previously, a man, not too far away had dug his own well. On being shown the well (a very dangerous open pit, with no safety features) we were thrilled to measure the water at just 5m below the surface. It was then that we realised, that with the equipment and supplies we had brought with us, that we would be able to dig two wells instead of just one!
After a short service at the proposed site of the well, where we prayed that God would bless our efforts (as opposed to the feeding of the ancestors at the site that the chief had requested) digging started in earnest. I left Mike and Dawie to continue with the well, while I participated in the funeral. I was impressed that they truly understood the love of God that Christ so often portrayed, put relationships over programmes and the entire conference was put on hold to pay their last respects to and bury the deceased.
Meanwhile the diggers were doing a fine job of removing soil from the well, bucket by bucket. By the end of Saturday we were all exhausted but progress had been good.
On Sunday morning, the conference continued, until a cheer arose when water was finally struck in the first well, and then shortly after in the second. The excitement in the village was tangible. With water now easily accessible and unpolluted, life for them would never be the same again. I felt it appropriate to give my message that day on Living Waters.
On Sunday afternoon the conference was concluded with a Communion service, and through the translator, many expressed their gratitude of us being there to teach them and guide them into a deeper relationship with God, as well as provide them with physical needs such as fresh water.
The well digging continued on Monday morning as we wanted to get well below the water table in order to provide a good supply of water throughout the year. By lunchtime, the first well was completed, but the second still required another 1/2m of digging, which we left them to complete.
We said our goodbyes and departed after lunch, knowing that we had a three day drive back home. Manuel, Mariano's right hand man, accompanied us back to South Africa and is now staying with Caleb in Maelula, so that he can practice and become fluent in English.
My overall impression is that on all levels, the trip was a huge success. I still find amazing the unity and brotherhood that is felt, even though language is a huge barrier. This I can only credit to the unifying presence of the Holy Spirit.
I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all who contributed so generously, to make what started off as a dream, turn into reality. The people we served have so little, and really do appreciate everything we do for them. I would especially like to thank Mike and Dawie who offered of their time, vehicles and expertise to help achieve this dream, but most especially for their friendship.
As I continue working with our brethren there, I more and more realise that what they most need after the Good News of Christ, is education. How many there die due to causes that could be prevented if they had a basic knowledge of sanitation and hygiene? How many others are living with clean water just a few metres below the ground, but are unaware of it? Please continue to pray for your brothers and sisters in Mozambique, and ask God to provide us with wisdom as we look to help them.