It has been a while since we communicated with the SOLA 5 family of churches. Even though we have not communicate much, know that you are in our prayers as we pray for a SOLA 5 member church every week.
We thank the Lord for His hand upon the congregation. As we face challenges, we can experience His guidance, provision and protection. We are grateful for new members we have taken in and young people who have been baptized.
Some members of the congregation went on a short “investigative” outreach to Mozambique. We would like to share a report with you from one of the team members on how he experienced the outreach.
A group of 18 people, including myself, had a research trip to Mozambique. We did a survey on the needs of the people and how our local church can be influential in the Maputo and Picoco area. As it was our first time to go to Mozambique everything was unfamiliar, we didn’t know the language (Portuguese); we didn’t understand the way they drive, and we didn’t know how to connect with the people.
We travelled in two groups. The first group left early the Friday morning and the second group left at 1pm. I was part of the group that left at 1pm. Before we left we prayed as a group and asked God’s blessing for the trip. The trip went well until the first group phoned and informed us that they were at the border post and the officials were refusing one of the vehicles to cross into Mozambique.
After a hold up of more than an hour through God’s intervention, things started falling into place and everything got sorted out and the first group entered into Mozambique and reached their destination safely. Meanwhile our group still had a long road ahead of us.
We travelled through Swaziland at a speed of 80 kilometers per hour, giving us a great fuel consumption, but it extended our travelling time to the border post. The Mozambique border post closed at 8pm. We walked into customs at 15 minutes to eight. To get everything processed and stamped normally takes about an hour. They processed our group of 9 in less than 20 minutes. We thought everything went smooth and without problems until one of the officials tried to walk away with some of our money. One of the group members said he will not be part of bribery or tolerate it so he followed the official till he returned his money.
It was a minor hold up, but long enough for the main gates to close. No one was allowed to go in or out anymore. When we arrived at the gate, the woman at the gate was grumpy and didn’t want to open the gate. A Mozambican official told her to open and we entered into Mozambique.
It is common for foreigners to be pulled over by police and asked for bribes. We hardly crossed the border when we saw the first police blockade. We drove past the blockade without being stopped. Looking back we could experience God’s indescribable grace that was with us. We weren’t pulled over once during the whole trip.
Our group arrived at the Mozambique Youth for Christ Centre in Maputo at 10 pm. The living environment was a shock; the kitchen had a gas stove which leaked gas. The matrasses we had to sleep on, had lice on them and we slept on the concrete floor. The city is quite for about an hour during the night. The rest of the time there is constant noise. The youth for Christ Center still had bullet holes in the walls from the war. Traces of the war was still visible in different areas of the city. This was our first day which consisted mostly of traveling. We saw places we never saw before. It was an eye opening experience.
We woke up and had Bible study and prayer time, which allowed us to prepare our hearts for the day ahead.
We had a nice breakfast cooked by our own ‘chefs’ in our group. After that we left for a juvenile prison close to Picoco. Here we joined in with the Youth for Christ team and ministered to the youth in the prison. After our Pastor gave a message our group got together and sang Amazing Grace to the youth. Their faces were stunned with amazement. They came to us and said they never had anyone come and sing to them. It meant so much to them; some even started crying with joy, and we had time to talk to the young people and share God’s love and encourage the few that came to Christ.
After we finished at the juvenile prison, we went to Picoco. There is a small evangelical church where the Youth for Christ Team reaches out to the youth every Saturday. We joined in and was given the opportunity to have the day with the youth. One of the members in our group brought a large packet of sweets and the children were so happy to receive the sweats. What was amazing was that the children did not push and shove for some sweets; they were very obedient. They followed the rules better than our South African children. We asked them to stand in a row to receive their sweets and they didn’t hesitate, they waited their turn. After we gave the children the little gift, we divided them into several small groups where the ladies in out group had a time to share with them.
Even though the children amazed us with their obedience, there were things which were negative. The children don’t play like children. The really young kids as well as the little older ones will grab one another and push one another to the ground. They will kick one another; not in a playing manner. If we were to look at it on a video, it would look like a group war. The violence inside these children shouldn’t be there, but it is.
At Picoco there is no water pipes to supply the houses with water. The evangelical church built a well where the residents can pump water. We are so blessed with multiple water taps in our house that the idea of walking long distances just for water seems unthinkable. When we talked to the residents who gathered for water, we could see their deep appreciation for this well. Mostly women came to pump water. They fill plastic containers or 20lt bottles. Sometimes children of 5 or 6 years old will also come and pump water.
We saw it as a privilege to feel what it feels like to pump water as we filled some of the cans for the people. When we left Picoco there were children running behind us waving and shouting; “bye”! It was so special for us to see that.
After we all arrived at the Youth for Christ Centre we had some time to reflect on the day and everyone started preparing for supper and we all just talked.
It is Sunday; and we returned to the Evangelical church in Picoco where our pastor had the privilege to share the Word of God with the congregation. Even before church we once again noticed the violence of the children. Although these children were full of energy and ‘fighting’ until they got called in for the church service; they quietly entered the church and went to their blanket where they sat down. They sat down and were quite throughout the entire service. They sang along, but when our pastor asked them a question, they either kept quiet or answered very softly. In comparison to our church’s youth this was very strange. When we started the service the pastor invited us to the front, and they sang a song to welcome us to their church and we had the opportunity to introduce ourselves.
After the morning service we return to the youth for Christ Centre for lunch and in the afternoon we went to one of the Baptist Churches in Maputo. The youth of the church, together with the Youth for Christ team, has an outreach into the streets of Maputo every Sunday to reach the lost youth of the city. We were invited to join in with them and our group got split into smaller groups. Each small group had a translator and two by two we ventured into the streets of Maputo.
The youth are everywhere, and the streets are dusty and small. I had the privilege of talking to one of the youth who knew a little bit of English. This made it a little easier for me to communicate as Shanghan and Portuguese are the main languages in Mozambique.
Unlike what I’m used to in South Africa; these people are so open. They easily invite you into their homes to talk. Something which amazed me, was when we entered the homes; the houses had walls and a roof but hardly any furniture. In spite of having so little; the people were extremely hospitable.
After the outreach we joined the evening service where we listened to a message by a Portuguese pastor who came to Mozambique for a visit. Just like in Picoco we received a warm welcome. They sang a song for us and we then introduce ourselves. The singing was loud as it was meant for the youth. What caught our attention was that the group that ‘led’ the singing saw the service as a concert opportunity and used it to promote their ‘band’. After the service we were informed that this happens every Sunday. After the service we returned to the Youth for Christ Centre where we had supper.
At about midnight some of our group joined one of the Youth for Christ pastors to go and swim in the ocean. We were excited about this, until we saw the beach. Where there is supposed to be sand the beach was covered with beer bottles. One of our 14 years old group members was offered a beer by one of the many alcohol salesmen. He even bargained with her about the price after she said no. We went into the sea and swam a while after which we returned to the Youth Centre.
It was time for us to drink our malaria tablets. The tablets had a bad effect on me and two others in the group. We couldn’t talk properly and we had no energy; we felt really tired. This “blue” Monday was really “blue” for the three of us.
This day was the day of applying some elbow grease to the Youth for Christ Centre’s kitchen. We helped to clean up the place; we repainted the walls and started planning for a way to get new mattresses. We buried the leaking gas stove in a hole in the back yard. This was a day in which we used our God given physical abilities to help our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Early in the morning, we prayed together and started traveling back home. We did not experience any problems with customs. We traveled back to South Africa knowing that we had an experience of a lifetime. No one can ever be the same after experiencing a small fraction of Mozambique the way we did. When you travel through the rural areas of South Africa there are many comparisons to be made with Mozambique. Many people are poor, time is not a real issue and they have very little; yet they survive. One of the differences we could see is that the war in Mozambique has left its mark on many of its people. The Good News of the Gospel brings hope to those who have no hope and that is what we went to share with the people we met in Mozambique.
We thank God for the opportunity to go to a foreign country and meet people whom we could not understand. What we found was that those who are in Christ speak the same “language” because Christ is our only hope whether we are South African or Mozambican.
In all we went through in such a short period of time we are grateful that God, in His mercy, was truly with us all the way.
Japie van Kampen