Ministry Update: Fellowship of Believers in Christ (May 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.

Grace Missions

Challenge Grant Successful: We thank God for the generous response of donors to the financial situation reported in our last update. According to our treasurer, the $15,000 challenge grant has already been matched, and we know of several additional gifts totaling more than $40,000 which have been received or promised. It appears that our crisis is past. All our projected expenses for 2018 have been met, apart from routine monthly operating costs. We have paid the book order for this year and should have funds on hand to cover the Fiel Conference. We are also re-opening the bookshop, though we may still be unable to sell books at their former subsidized rate. We might even be able in the near future to re-hire workers for positions that were terminated last month.

Grace Medical Mozambique

Hospital Preparations: We are moving forward with plans to open Grace Evangelical Hospital soon. Our friends in Texas are packing a forty-foot container of medical equipment to ship to us in Mozambique and documenting its contents for pre-inspection and advance specification of customs charges. We are also seeking the best way to furnish the hospital with cabinets and other fixtures, either by importing them from abroad or by finding an expert to oversee construction here.

Guest House Construction: We’re building a three-bedroom guest home as temporary housing for the missionary families whom we pray will soon join us. It’s located on the same property as the hospital, in the back section, near the Woodrow home. Construction started in mid-February, and the foundation was completed on March 20. Our hard-working crew of local day laborers has now erected the walls and will pause their work for the next few months while the Woodrows are away. We hope the home will be finished by the end of this year.

Woodrow Family

In April, Charles and Julie bought supplies in South Africa and attended the Banner of Truth conference in England on their way to the United States for a mission board meeting and the F.I.R.E. conference. They will return to Nampula in June. Most important on their agenda is time with their children.

Kent graduated last year from Covenant Seminary and has just become assistant pastor at Meadowview Reformed Presbyterian Church in Lexington, North Carolina. He and his wife Anna rejoice that God providentially closed the doors for Kent to serve at the first 33 churches which considered him (quite a disappointment at the time), sparing him for this position which appeals to them better than them all. Kent and Anna are expecting their first child in July—another exciting to prayer.

Sarah Beth works in Billings, Montana as a family advocate in the Head Start public preschool program for disadvantaged children and is praying about how to best spend her free summer months.

On May 26, Andrew will marry Jennifer Vo, whom he met at Union University. Jennifer was born in Malaysia to Vietnamese parents who were missionaries there, so she shares Andrew’s experience of a cross-cultural upbringing. She is a delightful addition to the family. The couple will make their home in Springfield, Illinois, where Andrew works for the Southern Baptist Convention as a digital media specialist, having graduated in 2017 with a degree in that field.

Grace will graduate from Covenant College on May 4. In July, she’ll fly to Nampula to volunteer at our Fiel Conference for pastors, then stay afterwards to do research for a ministry she would like to establish for young women aging out of orphan homes who still need spiritual, emotional, and educational preparation for life outside the orphanage.

Benaiah, having finished his high school studies, volunteered at the Fiel ministry in Portugal en route to the US, where he plans to enroll this fall in one of several universities which have accepted him.

Hannah Malone

Our New Associate Tells Her Story: I was blessed to be raised by parents who taught me the Bible and faithfully took me to church. As a young child, I knew that I had broken God’s law and that Christ had died to save sinners like me, so I prayed to receive his salvation and rejoiced to call myself a Christian. During my teen years, I was admired by many for my devotion to God as I served him in many ways, including leadership in Christian youth discipleship groups and conferences, in addition to my employment as a music teacher.

My father and Dr. Charles Woodrow were close friends during their bachelor years, so I grew up knowing the Woodrows, devouring their every missionary newsletter, and praying often for their ministry. Perhaps influenced in part by them, I myself developed a keen sense of calling to foreign missions while I was still a wee child. By age eight, I had identified Russia as my destination country—a conviction that never wavered over the next two decades as I prepared myself in many ways for that destiny. Two international vacations as a young adult intensified my yearning to spend my life overseas.

In 2012, I sought a former pastor’s counsel regarding some emotional disturbances I was experiencing. As I evaluated myself in response to his probing questions, I found evidence of evil influences in my spiritual life. When I used God’s word to renounce the enemy’s lies, a cloud of confusion was lifted from my soul, and I finally saw, with frightening clarity, the true state of my heart: wicked to the core, rebellious against God, condemned under his just wrath. I was indescribably shocked to realize that my 25 years of Christianity were merely a pretense, hiding from others and even from myself the crushing weight of my sin which had never before concerned me. Thanks be to God that after merely hours of intense spiritual struggle, he humbled me through his law, softened my heart to repent of my sin, and revealed his amazing gift of complete forgiveness for a hopeless sinner like me. In the glorious moment in which I grasped that gospel by faith, God’s grace radically transformed my life.

Among many other changes in my life at my conversion, my sense of calling to missions in Russia completely vanished, leaving simply a desire to serve overseas but uncertainty as to God’s will. I began seeking his direction for where to live, what work to do, and what my future might hold. Within two months, the idea suddenly popped into my head: I should spend the rest of my life helping the Woodrows in Mozambique! It seemed so perfect that I wondered why I had never thought of it before. Yet I recognized that I shouldn’t thrust myself into ministry immediately after my conversion, so I decided to stay in San Antonio, Texas—where I had recently moved for a job caring for a person impaired by dementia—and was soon baptized and received into membership at the wonderful church I’d been attending there.

God, though, had other plans! Merely three weeks later, I moved back to my hometown of Austin for a caregiving job I was suddenly offered, and I subsequently joined a church in my new neighborhood. In the next year and a half, I grew spiritually and began praying for a church with a doctrinal position closer to my own. God answered my prayers with the formation of Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, which, though it doesn’t share my credo-baptist persuasion, has nevertheless been a tremendous blessing to me since the joyous day in January 2015 when I became a member.

Meanwhile, I told the Woodrows about my desire to work with them, and they gladly joined me in praying that God would bring it about. I learned basic Portuguese and spent June 2014 in Nampula, assisting with Grace Missions administration and noting how well that role suited me. I accepted a separate invitation for fruitful service in Asia during July 2015, and in 2016 I took four trips for a total of twelve weeks ministering in eight foreign countries. I was excited to see God work through me in so many places, yet grew increasingly confident that Mozambique was the place for me to eventually settle permanently.

As 2016 drew to a close, I received an opportunity to spend the first seven months of 2017 serving in Asia, which would require resigning from my job since I couldn’t find a substitute for such a long period as I had for shorter trips. This was no small step: my employment included not only my salary, but also food, housing, and transportation. I would have to discover a new living situation upon my return to the US in August 2017. Apprehensive, but confident of God’s direction, I made that momentous decision to resign.

Around that time, I asked the Woodrows if I could visit them again in 2018 while waiting on God for long-term guidance. Their ideas were much bigger than mine. The board of directors for Grace Medical Mozambique had just decided to move toward opening the hospital, with no new physicians other than Dr. Woodrow. Swamped with administrative duties and urgently in need of relief, Dr. Woodrow inquired whether I would consider coming permanently to serve as his administrative assistant. Having just resigned from my job, I immediately recognized God’s providence and could not have been more thrilled to accept!

God’s direction was confirmed through my meeting with Belinda Dickey, the Stateside executive director of Grace Medical Mozambique, the day before I left for Asia, by the subsequent official invitation the Grace Medical board extended to me, and by my church’s enthusiastic decision to send me out as their missionary. After a wonderful seven months of ministry in Asia, I prepared for my move to Mozambique through five busy months of sorting through belongings, packing, studying Portuguese, preparing documents, giving presentations at churches, and visiting friends and family. Then, three years to the day after I joined Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, I departed to spend the rest of my life, Lord willing, serving in Mozambique!

Prayer Requests

We have added a page to our website listing detailed prayer requests for every aspect of our ministry. We encourage you to visit it here, pray over these matters, and share them with your church. Here are a few prayer requests on the topics mentioned in this newsletter:

  • For speedy completion of all the preparatory work necessary for Grace Evangelical Hospital to open.
  • That the container of medical supplies will be shipped without excess customs charges, delays, or damage to its contents.
  • For provision of hospital furniture, especially desks, cabinets, counters, and shelves.
  • That construction of the guest house would proceed smoothly.
  • For safe, enjoyable, economical travel for the Woodrows in South Africa, England, and the USA from April through June.

In addition, we praise God for the donations we have recently received to avert the financial crisis that seemed to be looming.

Thank you for your interest in our ministry!