Ministry Update: Comunhão dos Crentes em Cristo (October 2018)

Greetings to friends of Grace Missions, Grace Medical Mozambique, Charles and Julie Woodrow, and Hannah Malone.

Here is the latest news from Nampula, Mozambique, written by Hannah.

Picnic

On September 22, we held a picnic at our rural Quinta Graça property in order to thank the many volunteers whose labor was invaluable to the success of this summer’s Fiel Conference. The volunteers themselves did all the work to make the picnic happen; we simply supplied the funds to purchase the food, which they cooked on-site over open fires. We also welcomed to the event other friends who couldn’t volunteer at the conference but contributed to the picnic fund from their personal means.

The festivities lasted all day, from 9:30 in the morning when everyone piled into our truck for the ride out to the property until we rode back into town in the dark that evening. The first meal was a simple one of sandwiches, pastries, and juice, while the second was a more elaborate spread of chicken, rice with vegetables, fried potatoes, and cabbage salad. Between meals, the group gathered several times to sing hymns, give testimonies, share Scriptural encouragement, and listen to Dr. Charles’s thank-you speech. The remainder of the time was filled with food preparation, fellowship, games, and relaxation. It was a delightful day altogether.

Quinta Graça Legal Dispute

Shortly after the Woodrows purchased the Quinta Graça property several years ago, an adversary arose who claimed ownership in multiple legal suits filed against the Woodrows. By God’s grace, the title to the land has been irrevocably granted to the Woodrows. However, the same man is now seeking to have Dr. Charles jailed based on a preposterous claim of corruption involved in the property’s acquisition. The judge is now reviewing the evidence (or lack thereof) supplied by our foe and will soon decide whether the case will go to trial. Please pray for a dismissal in this latest attempt to harass the Woodrows.

Church Growth

We praise God for many newcomers to our church in recent months, and for the decision of several regular attenders to make the commitment of joining the church. The membership process involves studying discipleship lessons with a church member, meeting with the church leaders, and signing the church covenant at a reception held specifically to welcome the believer into the congregation. We hosted one such reception on September 30, with around 75 guests, and several more are planned in the near future.

Finances

We are extremely grateful for donors who responded in April to our urgent need for funds for Grace Missions, the non-medical side of our ministry. Their generosity allowed us to hold our conference and has sustained our normal work until now. However, as our monthly expenses continue to exceed our monthly income, the leaders of Grace Missions are facing difficult decisions regarding possibly scaling back our ministries. We ask for your prayers as they seek to discern the Lord’s will.

Grace Medical Mozambique

Below is an update from Grace Medical Mozambique.

Container Shipment

Over the past two years, Don and Belinda Dickey in the USA have spent countless hours preparing a forty-foot shipping container of medical supplies, which are essential to opening our hospital. Most of our supporters probably can’t even imagine what a complicated process this shipment is. We praise God that the director of Mozambican customs has agreed to charge us nothing for the importation of Hannah Malone’s personal items, which are also on the container. We are currently praying for similar favor with the government’s pharmacy department, whose authorization is required for the importation of many of the healthcare items.

Bonifácio Alberto Muahiroua

In June, we introduced you to Bonifácio Alberto Muahiroua, our faithful head employee. Now we’d like to recount more of the story of God’s remarkable work in and through him.

Born into a Catholic family and raised in poverty by his uncle and aunt, he heard and believed the gospel at age twelve. He was then baptized in an evangelical church, where he continued to participate and soon assumed positions of responsibility. He married a wonderful helpmeet, Estefânia, who remained loyal to him as he struggled, through whatever temporary manual labor he could find to earn a living for them and the two beautiful daughters God gave them. Their faith grew as they prayed and received the Lord’s provision of food and other necessities, sometimes in surprising ways, often at the last minute but never late.

As additional relatives became financially dependent upon Bonifácio, his search for steady employment grew more desperate. He particularly hoped for work that would be meaningful in Christian ministry. This quest led him to Grace Missions, with which he was familiar due to his participation as a church leader in our Fiel Conferences from the very beginning in 2000, and in Dr. Charles’s first theology seminar in 2005. When he arrived in 2010 pleading a job, as others often do and are turned away, Dr. Charles felt sympathy for him, and shortly thereafter offered him the only position open at the time: household helper. Uncertain of his abilities in that area, but with Estefânia’s encouragement, he accepted it. Through menial, monotonous tasks such as ironing laundry, washing dishes, and changing cat litter, he not only persevered in mastering all the bewildering details of how this foreign family insists their home be kept, but also distinguished himself as a congenial, capable, and trustworthy employee.

Bonifácio’s co-workers noted his dependability and elected him leader of their labor association, in which capacity he represented all our employees on issues that arose between them and the mission leadership. Those interactions convinced Dr. Charles of Bonifácio’s suitability for administrative work, so he promoted him to the mission office, leaving his wife Julie to train new household help and the workers to choose another representative with whom Bonifácio would now dialogue from the blue-collar position. As in the biblical account of Joseph (Genesis 39:1–6), Bonifácio’s wise stewardship earned him increasingly greater responsibilities, until today he manages everything at Grace Missions with great success. “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10, NKJV).

Not only has God blessed Grace Missions through Bonifácio, but he has blessed Bonifácio through Grace Missions as well. The mission financed his university education in addition to increasing his salary as he was promoted. Spiritually, Dr. Charles’s daily example has impressed Bonifácio with the importance of a father’s dedication to his family, devotions in the home, responsibility in ministry projects, compassion for people, and many other life lessons which he has taken to heart and put into practice.

The development in Bonifácio’s life is now overflowing to bless many other people, starting with his family to whom he daily teaches God’s word. Leaders in his church and other local ministries call upon him to coordinate their events after seeing his proficiency in coordinating our conferences. He directs a choir, which has skillfully recorded many songs. He serves as regional coordinator for his denomination’s youth ministry. He has planted a church in the impoverished community around our rural Quinta Graça property and initiated other outreaches to the local population.

Especially impressive is the preschool which Bonifácio has established in the Quinta Graça area. With very few resources, underwritten primarily from his family’s personal funds, he is providing a quality Christian education for 27 disadvantaged youngsters. Classes are conducted each weekday morning in a crude hut, soon to be replaced by a more permanent building which the children’s parents are helping to construct. Because they face malnutrition at home, both breakfast and lunch are provided to the students each day. Though the school has no desks, no toys, and very few books, it has capable instructors, whom Bonifácio sent to a month-long Christian training program, and who receive only a small honorarium for their dedicated daily labor.

When the preschool opened in January, the children were scared to participate. They often cried and tried to run away. Many were shy and didn’t want to talk at all. In their homes, what little conversation they had with their parents was in the local Makhuwa language; they didn’t know any Portuguese, the national language in which all public education is conducted. Yet today, thanks to the preschool, they speak Portuguese easily, even choosing that language for their playful chatter during recess. They all come happily to classes each day. Their parents are amazed at the dramatic improvement in the children’s lives, with deep gratitude to Bonifácio for bringing it about through the school.

The best part of the preschool is its evangelistic emphasis. Its vision statement presents the objectives “to provide for the children and their community, in their spiritual needs, an opportunity to experience the love and understand the gospel of Jesus Christ” and “to provide for the local church a practical, relevant way to meet material and spiritual needs, and in this way to strengthen its relationship with the community so that it becomes known and respected in the region.” Bible lessons and prayer are an important part of daily classes, which doesn’t diminish the non-Christian parents’ delight in the preschool. Soon, Bonifácio hopes to send Christian representatives of the school to meet with the children’s families in their homes, share the gospel, and seek opportunities for long-term discipleship of entire households.

Next month, Lord willing, the preschool’s 27 students will graduate, well-prepared for their public education which will begin in January, and a new class of five-year-olds will enroll. The school will also open a class for four-year-olds, in response to parents’ pleas for the program to expand to two years. And the inaugural class will be invited back to the facility every afternoon, following their morning of first grade in the public school, for Bible teaching and academic enrichment activities. While management of this fast-growing preschool could certainly be a full-time job, Bonifácio simply fits it around his many other projects in his church, family, Grace Missions, and elsewhere. We are amazed at his heart for ministry and the magnitude of what he is able to accomplish.

Several years ago, observing Bonifácio’s enjoyment and capable management of our rural Quinta Graça property, Dr. Charles inquired whether he and his family would like to live there. He said yes, so Grace Missions subsidized the house-building in appreciation for Bonifácio’s diligent labor. This was the Lord’s answer to Bonifácio’s prayer for a suitable home for his family and a better environment for raising his daughters than the neighborhood where they lived at the time. As construction progressed, and the family’s ministry in the surrounding community developed rapidly, they grew increasingly eager to move there. Though the house still lacks much, including a supply of electricity and water, they went ahead and moved in joyfully this past Saturday, celebrating with many friends the dedication of their home to the Lord.

Has Bonifácio’s story touched your heart? Would you like to donate towards his ministry projects? If so, we invite you to send your contribution to Grace Missions, and then to advise us by e-mailthat your gift is especially for Bonifácio’s initiatives. As always, when requesting funds for a specific purpose, it is the policy of Grace Missions to be transparent with donors. We intend to restrict all the designated funds we receive to be applied to this specific need. However, donors should understand that if we receive funds in excess of the specific need, money will not be returned to donors, but rather the mission reserves the freedom to designate such excess funds to other purposes related to the mission. Based on the stewardship Bonifácio has exercised over the years, we are confident that even small donations will make a significant impact in his ministry outreaches, and larger gifts will be wisely used for an exponential effect.

We also ask your prayers for Bonifácio and his family, knowing that those whom God especially uses are often particular targets for the enemy. Please pray for protection from all manner of evil, and that their new home will soon be equipped with everything necessary for them and their guests to be comfortable. Pray that they will keep growing spiritually, faithful to the Lord and to each other, receiving and following his direction for their ministries. Pray that all their relatives will come to salvation through faith in Christ. Please pray for funding for the preschool and for the spiritual fruit in the lives of its students and their families. And pray for God’s blessing on the provincial youth seminar which Bonifácio is coordinating November 2–4.

We hope you have been uplifted by this story of Bonifácio’s life. If you would like to write a message of encouragement to him, you can e-mail it to us, and we will forward it to him. Thanks to his mission-sponsored university education, he knows English.

To God be the glory for all that he is doing in and through Bonifácio Alberto Muahiroua!

Thank you for your interest in our ministry.