Another day in the life of Iris!
Written by Heidi & Rolland Baker
01/29/2011 | Pemba, Mozambique
THE PHOTO GALLERY
This time my latest gallery has over 100 new photos showing you everything I can of our recent activities and ministry world. You can see more ocean baptisms, village outreaches, Mozambicans of all ages in their cultural glory, children at play, intense worship in meetings, beautiful weddings, and just the plain love and joy of our Iris family’s life in Jesus!
You can use these photos however you like, and I can supply higher-resolution files if necessary.
Previous news and galleries are at www.irisglobal.org. They go back to 2001, with thousands of photos and a detailed record of revival in this land.
ANOTHER DAY IN THE LIFE OF IRIS!
Yesterday Heidi and I arrived back home in Pemba, really dirty. Hot, perspiring, clothes soggy. Feet caked with dust and mud. We really looked the missionary part. Our creaking old Land Rover was loaded down. Our bench seats in back were crammed with Mozambican ministry buddies and a couple of short-term visitors, one happy family after pouring out all we could on yet another mud-hut village in the bush. Stiff and hot with piles of equipment and supplies stuffed between us, on our laps and under our legs, we had been talking nonstop on the long ride back about the sheer joy of serving the King among some of the richest people on the planet.
The Land Rover is slow and top-heavy, but utterly practical for us. Our big, heavy, flat roof rack easily handled all our tents, sleeping bags and other overnight gear. Its long-travel coil spring suspension takes us almost anywhere over deep ruts and mud. This is our missionary machine, and our teams drive lots more like it. Outreaches like this are the mainstay of our ministry, and we are used to our weekly routine. But what God does on these outreaches is anything but routine. In the face of all Mozambique’s problems, deep revival has been taking root all over this northern province we live in now. The devil can accuse of all kinds of faults and weaknesses, but we just boast in all these (2 Cor. 12:9) and revel in the sheer power that God has displayed among us in recent years. We are pleased with His workmanship, and extremely encouraged. It is obvious that this transcendent power belongs to God and does not come from us (2 Cor. 4:7).
Our outreach began Thursday, two days ago. First we sent out two big 4-ton flat-bed trucks covered with canopies to carry the main group of our visitors and Mozambican ministers. They haul our sound system, projection screen, generator and whatever else we need. All our equipment is all banged up and dented, covered with dirt, but it keeps working. This is Africa! Our team is treated to the sublime experience of bouncing for hours over rough roads cooking in the heat sitting on the hard floor of these trucks, but it’s a privilege not to be forgotten.
That group arrived late in the afternoon and right away put up a little tent village, so curious to rural Mozambicans not used to such conveniences. All they need is a grass mat! But our teams need privacy, so up they go. Then every time our intrepid revivalists hook up a generator, sound system and video projector, with a whole village excitedly flocking around anticipating another Iris night under the stars with God as the center of attention. It’s hard anymore to find a village where we haven’t already ministered. We’ve been coming to this village for three years now, and every time we keep adding to their understanding and experience of the Gospel. With around two thousand churches among this one tribe, we are excited and awed by what has happened.
We arrived after dark. We could spot the glowing screen from far off, and the Jesus Film is showing yet again. We have memorized it now in fine detail, but the whole village was out again to see it once more, mesmerized and motionless. Many can’t read, but they will never forget the film. It’s just amazing how that sound track has been produced in so many languages, even in Makua here at the end of the earth…
It was really dark, but for the light of the projector. No moonlight, but millions of stars. These villages have no electricity, flashlights or batteries. Visitors looked spooky with their glowing LCD headlights nodding around, and startling flashes went off from their ubiquitous pocket cameras… But by now our African friends in this village know about our teams, and they are good sports. The end of the movie finally came, Jesus rose in the air, the disciples bowed in worship, and we turned on our floodlights, which really strained our generator.
Heidi jumped to life, her cute, rich voice ringing out in Makua and Portuguese, to the great delight of the people. Jesus is alive, He’s here, and we can have the best night ever with our Perfect Savior! Preaching to crowds like this is always exhilarating! Our team energetically acted out the story of the Good Samaritan in a little drama, which makes a permanent impression in this culture. Heidi kept preaching, and like always here the people universally responded with shouts of joy, upraised hands and eager desire for more. It seems like everybody wants Jesus among these people, once considered so dark and unreachable. Most want the Holy Spirit! Most want prayer! Most want better hearts, more love and joy, more of His Presence. We are not ashamed of enthusiasm; meetings are to us a time for emotional release, a gift from heaven, African-style! And the Holy Spirit backs us up…
Many wanted healing prayer, so our team spread out and laid hands on the sick. The needs were relatively minor, as we’ve already been to this village so many times. It’s hard to find blind and deaf people anymore around here, a real problem(!)… But one man was healed completely who was hard of hearing in one ear, and totally deaf in the other. In recent years we’ve seen a stream of people healed of deafness, nearly every week!
The villagers were thrilled and encouraged once more by another visit by foreigners from far away. It always amazes them that people will travel so far and spend so much money to come and bless them. They know we come with no ulterior motive, and they feel loved. And they return the love by giving us their best, in the form of food after the meeting! That night we brought with us our usual spaghetti and tuna fish, but they trumped that easily with their gourmet bush chicken. Really, we’ve never tasted better. And they explained how they do it. First, you have to kill the chicken. Very important. Then you pluck it ‘n gut it, yes, yes. Toss it in the pot over the fire and stir: cha-cha-cha-cha… Then when it goes schhhhhhhh, you know it’s done. And the amazing part: they know how to add flavor. They come up with everything — incredible! Tomatoes, onions, garlic, spices, on and on, until they come up with an unreal sauce that we can’t get enough of! How do they get all these ingredients in the bush far away from Albertsons? They are so proud to explain. And we love it. They put out a whole big plate loaded with white mealie cakes, and we just launched into the chicken pot and kept dipping away into the rich reddish-brown yummy juice. They do it with goat too, and it’s awesome! But eating like this is really rare, saved for absolutely the most special occasions.
Finally at midnight we got into our tents, zipped them up tight and tried to kill every last bug around us we could with the spray we always bring. I thought I’d read the Bible and write some on my iPad, but was way too tired. That was enough Kingdom work for one day.
The day starts early in the bush. At the first glimmer of dawn village kids excitedly crowded around our tents to see what might emerge. Sure enough, out came bedraggled foreigners with mussed up hair and makeup, trying to find toothbrushes and the outhouse (one fell in, but amazingly stayed on the outreach anyway). Soon we got collected enough to brew Starbucks coffee, and started serving tea and sugar with bread and jam to our little foreign and national family. Under our overhanging thatch roof, with our view of the lush, wild African landscape before us, we felt satisfied and at home. This is missions!
No village outreach is complete without meeting with the chief, agreeing to build another school and planning where to drill a well! So we did that next. Then we had morning church. We always want to make the most of our visits. Our Iris church buildings are usually just humble mud-and-stick huts with dirt floors and a tin roof. This one was badly damaged by a wind storm, and half the roof was ripped off. No matter, a whole group of us gathered excitedly in our lowly bush tabernacle to enjoy the Presence of God together. Spine-tingling African drumming is de rigueur for our meetings, with energy and dancing to match. Soon a flood of children poured in as well, and we didn’t swat them off as so many do in Africa. We put them in front, and ministered to them too! We grown-ups have to learn to be like them, or we won’t even get into the Kingdom… And so our unlikely revival spot in the bush pulsed with the life of heaven so lacking in many staid Western churches…
We preached, making the Gospel as clear as possible yet again, emphasizing always the righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit that comes by faith in the power of the Cross. We worshiped and prayed. And the Holy Spirit fell on many visitors, missionaries, pastors and even the village chief himself. God graciously fills us with more love and joy than we can express, according to our faith and desire. May God have no competition in the bush of Africa; may He be the greatest pleasure in the lives of these saints around us, who trust so simply in their perfect Savior. We revel in His power to deliver us safely into His heavenly Kingdom, and be with us all the way…
A critical ingredient of our bush outreaches is discipleship time with a select group of local believers. This time Heidi sat outside under a tree with the village’s leading Christians, by now her close friends, and taught quietly and unhurriedly from the Scriptures. This is always an extremely valuable time, the highlight of an outreach in many ways. Earnestly and hungrily everyone was asking questions and seeking all the more understanding. Many have already been to our Bible school in Pemba, but they keep pressing on to the best yet. Our aim is far more than feeding or numbers, but to “present everyone perfect in Christ” (Col. 1:28).
While Heidi was teaching, our team members spread out all over the village to visit the people in their huts and to pray for the sick. The villagers are so touched by these visits by teams with such love, and in turn visitors are deeply impacted by the reality of extreme poverty — and also the faith and joy of people who have almost nothing but Jesus and each other. Their spirits well up with a generosity that could only come from heaven.
Our outreach was climaxed by a gourmet lunch, again proudly produced and offered to honor us to the max. How can we respond to such golden hearts? Yes, we are seeing revival, with a simplicity and purity that are breathtaking. How did we deserve the privilege of being here and witnessing God at work like this? Godliness with contentment is great gain, and our people are at peace, and yet the very same time we have so much more to look forward to in the future. Those who have, Jesus said, will get even more. Mozambique is headed onward and upward!
On the way home we got another taste of revival in this land and what God can do if our focus is on His Son. We stopped at the government’s local prison, where the Holy Spirit has been breaking out under a long-time Iris missionary, and Ezekiel, an ex-prisoner. The prison interior was grim, dark and claustrophobic, as expected. A few prisoners were still locked in their dirty, miserable confines, but most gathered in a long, narrow hallway with high, out-of-reach windows for security. On entry, though, we were greeted with shouts of praise, and then with one voice the whole prison reverberated with fervent worship. We joined them, standing and transfixed, as all these “dangerous offenders” sang their hearts out with joy, energy and enthusiasm to the King of Kings. Jesus was obviously now their real reason for living, the hope of their lives, the joy of their salvation. Rarely have we ever seen such powerful evidence of a change of spirit. The prisoners shook our hands, hugged us, laughed and cheered as if they were having an absolutely great day, which they were! And they seemingly could not stop worshipping. This is the road to transformation, the cutting edge of revival: the One who died and rose again on our behalf! He is the perfect personification of the love and power we all need, and only our faith in Him will overcome this world.
The atmosphere in that dark, horribly depressing place was extraordinary, under the circumstances. In the same way, His presence in our most difficult times is all and everything we need. Our hope in Him is secure, our future safely protected and reserved for us… We may be in prisons of many kinds, but we have a Deliverer!
After the prison we drove the last twenty minutes back to Pemba, stopping just for fruit and snacks at a roadside stand. I was really itching and uncomfortable with so much stacked up on my lap. I could hardly move. What a full day. I couldn’t wait for a shower and a cold Coke. And a good snooze. Another day in the life of Iris. And another day of eternal life! On we go to the best yet! In Jesus the best is always in the future… Stay tuned!
Much love in Jesus,
Rolland and Heidi
DIVING IN DEEPER
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