The Mieze Model
The Mieze Model was built around a strong core of worshiping believers—even if relatively few in the beginning. In the case of Mieze, with over a hundred regular worshipers it was already Iris’ largest church in the province apart from the Pemba Base church itself. However, the Mieze church tripled in 16 months after the project began and has continued to grow since then. A new church and community center building to accommodate 1,200 or more was completed in June, 2010.
Children have been attracted in large numbers to the Mieze church by the many tangible evidences of God’s blessing. Not least is the fact that the Lord supernaturally multiplied food for the Mieze church kids three times in 2007-8!
The vision of the Mieze Model is to make Jesus known in Mozambican villages as loving Savior and Lord who heals the sick, frees those in spiritual bondage, and offers Jeremiah 29:11 “hope and a future” to all who come into relationship with God through faith. It is a vision to see the Kingdom of God coming in power (1 Cor 4:20) and love. And it is a vision to make the local Iris church into a true community center ministering the love of God to all in a variety of tangible ways. It is designed to preach the good news through deeds of love…such that people will want to hear it explained in words also.
This is a model for individual and community transformation. It prepares kids who were “the least of the least” for a place in their country and world in the 21st century. It provides educational access, health care, and good nutrition to orphans and vulnerable children. It teaches community values and responsibility. It teaches the value of work and of play. It teaches and models that girls and boys and men and women are of equal value in the sight of God. And it aims to teach godly servant-leadership to children who one day could lead their nation.
Village Access to Potable Water
Apart from the effects of HIV/AIDS, it is a recognized fact that most health problems in Sub-Saharan Africa are water-related, due either to inadequate or contaminated water supply. Currently 50% of the population of Mozambique still lacks access to safe potable water; and that crisis is even more acute in the remote northerly region.
The Mieze project provided local access to potable water in 2007 and there has been an amazing improvement in general health as a result. Currently, the Iris well-drilling project has scheduled the drilling of a new well in front of the new church and community building which it is hoped will result in even better quality drinking water for hundreds of village families.
School Access Program
Attendance at government schools in Mozambique requires that children pay a small annual fee, have a uniform and footwear, and have basic school supplies—a total cost of about $35 a year. But when this amount is multiplied by the number of children in a typical poor family struggling to provide even one meal a day, it means access to schooling is a complete impossibility for most. As a consequence, the children will likely never learn Portuguese, the official language of Mozambique, and will be consigned to a life of extreme poverty and suffering.
By 2010, the number of children being financially assisted and socially supported to attend school through the Mieze project was in excess of 250. And as a result, the primary school in Mieze had to move to two shifts a day. That number has continued to grow up to the present…forcing the school to move to three shifts a day. Sadly, the facilities are dilapidated and the staff overworked; but the children are learning and developing in spite of these limitations.
Food Program for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs)
The Mieze Model includes residential accommodation for about 40 OVCs; but there are many more extremely needy children in Mieze and surrounding villages whose lives hang in the balance daily. The Mieze project has responded by organizing a food distribution program through the local Iris church to provide full daily nutrition to over 200 OVCs who are still living in village settings. The food is distributed weekly and church volunteers monitor the recipient care-givers and the health of the children being supported.
The combination of this food program, weekly medical clinics, and the school access program is designed to enable vulnerable children to continue to live in their village community with greatly enhanced health and security today…and to progress in school so they have the prospect of a much better future tomorrow.
Medical and Community Health Initiatives
Most rural communities in Mozambique are never visited by a medical doctor. Where there are rural health centers, they are typically only staffed by a technician who may dispense whatever is on hand by way of medication regardless of the patient’s ailment. Moreover, large numbers of preventable deaths occur annually due to mothers’ lack of even the most basic understanding of family health and hygiene. And a visit to the local witch doctor is usually the first—and often the only—action taken in cases of illness.
For many years, the Mieze Model was addressing basic health needs by staffing twice-weekly medical clinics with qualified doctors and nurses; by running a milk replacement program to ensure that babies received adequate nutrition during the first 18 months of life; and by a community health education program designed to equip village women to be more knowledgeable about the health and well-being of their families. As local access to government programs has improved, these services have gradually been phased out so our limited resources could be concentrated on the well-being of our resident children and our community outreach through “Stop for the One—Canada” village sponsorships.
Residential Children’s Village: The Village of Love
In 2007, a small residential children’s village was built for 36-40 orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs). These children were truly “the least of the least” when they came to the Mieze Village of Love. Most had absolutely no possessions other than the worn and tattered rags they were wearing. None had ever slept on a mattress or a bed before. None had ever experienced running water from a tap or electricity from a switch. They had no idea what to do with a flush toilet. Most hadn’t ever even seen themselves in a mirror before! None had ever had three meals in a single day—and even two meals in a day would be an extreme rarity. Most had never had the opportunity to go to school. They had lived lives of suffering, abuse, and deprivation…and had little expectation that anything would ever get better. They were helpless and hopeless… typical of hundreds of thousands of children in Mozambique today.
The dramatic change in these residential children in such a short time is an eloquent testimony to the transformational power of the Father’s love. Now they are a happy, healthy family of loving kids who carry the presence of God individually and corporately. They care deeply for one another, are progressing well in school, are very active in church, and they welcome visitors to their village with a warmth that is almost overwhelming. They do chores happily every day, tend the gardens they’ve planted, and even help look after the chickens and goats.
Village Evangelism: Clube de Bandeira
The Mieze Model is not only a program for addressing immediate and long-term human needs with the compassion of Jesus, it is also a strategy for making Jesus widely known in a village community that has lived in spiritual darkness until recently.
A Saturday morning evangelistic program for poor village kids is currently drawing 400 children every week. It’s a high-energy program in their native Makua tongue which celebrates God’s plan of salvation; and hundreds of Mieze children have enthusiastically said yes! to Jesus in recent months.
We have also run training workshops for pastors and leaders of 30-40 other churches in the area to equip them to organize similar programs through their village churches. And when they returned for the second workshop, they brought reports of thousands of children in their villages having enthusiastically given their lives to Jesus, as well!