Children's Day at Iris!
Written by Heidi & Rolland Baker
06/5/2011 | Pemba, Mozambique
OUR CHILDREN could hardly sleep last night. Today is their day! Our magnificent staff in each base in Mozambique have been working for months to prepare for this fabulous day. Each center has a giant “festa,” a feast of feasts, to celebrate like never before Mozambique’s national holiday, Children’s Day! Presents, food, dancing, games, singing, worship, love and prayer — all to rejoice at the life Jesus has brought to our revival center, our Village of Joy in Pemba! He has done great things among us, and we are thrilled that He has chosen us to participate in what He is doing!
Heidi and I get up early. Today we have to look and be our best! Cameras will be everywhere, and our kids are expecting a lot of attention! We charge down to the center in our old, rattling, beat-up Land Rovers, still running strong, and our whole property is pulsing with energy. It’s a perfect day. The sky is clear and blue, the nearby ocean peaceful, the temperature just right. Everybody has a job to do. Our kitchen workers have been up all night preparing chicken for more than four thousand people. Others have been painting and decorating rooms, wrapping presents, dressing kids, getting everything in order.
Now comes the time to shower love on each individual treasure Jesus has brought us. We start with our baby house. Every child gets a gift bag, huge hugs and a lot of play time as each present is pulled out with big, excited eyes and grins. Many of these babies came to us ragged, skinny, starving and dying of malnutrution, but now we bounce their chubby bodies on our knees in their cute outfits and marvel at their transformation.
We keep moving through our dorm rooms, going to older children, starting with boys. Each room is neat, cute and comfy, decorated with flowers, balloons and streamers, and walls painted with fun murals and scripture verses. What a contrast with the huts, streets and slums these children came from! We are so proud of our staff that spent so much time shopping carefully for each age group. Mama Heidi spends a long time with every single boy, making sure each one feels ultra-loved. All our missionaries, visiting teams, mission school students and Mozambican staff are absolutely pouring themselves out on the children in this their most special day.
Time for lunch! Only today we have a mega-production. We’ve invited thousands of village children from our surrounding community — the poorest of the poor we could find, who have never had such a feast. Lines have formed clear across our big property, and we know that feeding them will take all day. This is exciting! A feast here can mean only one thing: pieces of juicy barbecued chicken with Cokes and all the rice and coleslaw anyone can eat — a super-rare treat for most Mozambicans. Our dining room is such a scene. Foreigners and Africans of every age are all over the benches and floor. What a chaotic, wonderful mess. Bottles, scraps and plates are everywhere as we try to keep cleaning up. The kitchen assembly line is pumping out piles of yummy food hour after hour. In a poor, hungry nation, this is heaven on earth!
In the middle of this culinary extravaganza a group of our younger girls add rich African cultural flavor with dance productions they have been practicing for weeks. The drumming, the rhythm, the flashing, sparkling energy ignited before us all contribute to our atmosphere of excited celebration. These children are alive, healthy, thrilled and full of life and hope! What a spectacle and treat for all our staff and visitors!
After lunch Heidi and I visit our older boys, and then our girls, one room at a time. They’ve been waiting patiently most of the day, and now we give them individual attention. We are joyfully struck by the difference in outlook these youth have since they first arrived at Iris. A few years ago, when asked about their dreams and aspirations, all they could imagine was simply enough food to eat, some clothes and maybe a decent place to live. Now they are brimming with positive ambition! What do they want to become? A doctor, an engineer, a pilot, a pastor, a teacher, an evangelist, a missionary… The answers flow with eyes bright and smiles wide. Mozambique is being transformed, one young life at a time!!!
This one day might seem like just a brief, relatively insignificant and almost frivolous moment of time in our long history of struggling for the Gospel in this poor land, but it is in fact a vivid portrait of what God has done among us. The love of God has reached down into the lives of the least of these in the land and brought them hope and a future, both in this life and the life to come. They have been rescued from darkness and brought into His marvelous light, and we are seeing His love manifested in countless real and practical ways. Right before our eyes we are witnessing the fruit of our years in Mozambique, and we know that this fruit will last.
We are encouraged! God who has brought us this far will continue to reveal Himself and His ways in the far corners of the earth to the hungry and humble. Truly He has given us a down payment and and a guarantee of what is to come in the next life, and so the Gospel marches on by His grace.
We are going to have to write a rapid succession of newsletters to give you an idea of all that we are seeing God do here in Africa in recent months. Every week we add news churches. Our Pemba Bible school and Harvest School of Missions are brimming with new students, intensely hungry and on fire. Our bush pastors are raising the dead and receiving streams of visions and visitations. The blind see, the crippled walk and food is multiplied. We don’t have time to record all the testimonies we hear, but we are trying to get as much written down and translated as we can. We are so eager to share more and more with you! We have been in an intense season of travel and ministry, and now we need our writing to catch up.
We also have so much to report from other Iris bases, and we encourage you to contact them directly to become more involved. We are seeing the birth and growth of a missions movement marked by a full-bodied appreciation of all that the Holy Spirit can do, sustained by the interaction of Word and Spirit. Our ambition is not for Iris, but for bearing eternal fruit that will bring pleasure to our God and Savior.
Again we are awed by the support we continue to receive from you, and we want you to understand what tremendous and miraculous provision has been provided to us by your supernatural sensitivity to our needs. We truly do pray at all our fourteen bases, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Sometimes it is last minute, but every day the Lord provides for us. Your faith, intercession and generosity have overflowed in our lives and work, and we owe you an overwhelming debt of love. Countless hundreds and even thousands of lives have been profoundly transformed through your sharing in the ministry of Iris around the world.
Boundless opportunities for missionary service with us exist in almost every area imaginable. As we encounter exploding hunger and response on so many fronts our need for expanded ministry and admin infrastructure rises to match. Our missions school has almost doubled in size this session, but we are praying for help from any and every direction. Pour out your lives for Jesus! There’s no other way to live!
We will continue to develop our website www.irisglobal.org, and a whole new media section is being coded. We want to provide a stream of video clips, testimonies, articles and photo galleries, along with more and more blogs from various Iris bases. We need a theology section to deal with issues arising in the evangelical/renewal world that affect our foundations of life and faith, and missionary perspective. And we would like to make more extensive use of Facebook groups to coordinate our various efforts. Already we have an Iris Prayer Team, and Iris Media Group, an Iris Alumni Official Page, an Iris Relief group, and an Iris Alumni Against Human Trafficking/Child Slavery.
We especially value our continued contact and fellowship with Iris alumni from our Harvest School. Now we are announcing another alumni reunion coming up soon, combined with an Iris conference on the Central Coast of California, August 17-21, “i61 Mandate Conference: Compelled By Love.” Everyone attending these events should go to www.everydaychurch.com to register! We are so eager to be with you again, and we look forward to the best time in Jesus ever!
Much love in Him, as always,
Rolland and Heidi
You can respond to me personally at email@example.com, and I’ll either answer you myself or route you to appropriate people on our staff. You can also follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/rollandbaker.
For further information, previous news and writings, photo galleries, Iris base pages, books and DVDs, child sponsorship details, missions school application procedures, visitor preparation details, convenient donation instructions and more, go to our website at https://www.irisglobal.org. We welcome communication, including feedback and urgent prayer requests, which can be sent to us using our website’s Contact Form.
Exciting new web content: now each of our Iris bases around the world has a subsite where you can find information, news, photos, blogs — anything that base wants to post. We are encouraging our missionaries to contribute more and more to their relevant sections so you can access a much broader range of content from Iris. You can go to the locations that interest you at:
You can download my grandfather’s autobiography (highly recommended!) at:
Our child sponsorship program has been inaugurated, in response to many requests. Be blessed! You can find out more on our website, and download a brochure at: