”When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:12-14
We gave a Christmas banquet at our Zimpeto center, and to us it was a foretaste of the King’s great banquet given for us all on that Great Day. We called in beggars from the streets, the destitute from the dump, prostitutes from the brothels, drug addicts and gangsters, and they all sat down together with our children, missionaries and Mozambican staff.
Cooks worked all day on our chicken dinner, something we have only two or three times a year. Heidi shopped for days in South Africa, getting dolls, marbles, balls, toy cars and stuffed animals to add to all that was sent to us from around the world. Volunteers wrapped presents for weeks. We gave donated pants and shirts to the dump children, and a week earlier we brought wraparound skirts to the prostitutes so they would have something to wear for Christmas with us.
All of us, almost two thousand, sang and danced before the Lord. More came to Jesus, kneeling before the King who came, simple and poor, to identify with us. We began with a beautiful wedding for a couple who hadn’t been able to get married before because the groom’s house was washed away in the flood. He is one of our pastors, and has been living in the corner of a friend’s grass hut, but now we’ve built him and his new bride a new reed house. We are abounding in good fruit, such as prostitutes coming to Jesus who want their children back from our house for abandoned and HIV babies.
One ex-prostitute married Zacharias, a young man Heidi found on the streets three years ago. Jesus changed Zacharias from a mean, violent street fighter into a radiant man of God who now pastors one of our downtown Maputo churches. This church meets in a broken-down old building which gets filled up with street girls, abandoned children, drunks — all finding hope and powerful help in our good God! It has grown so much that we have built an extension and are looking for more old buildings in Maputo to convert into ministry centers.
Now we are caring for a thousand children, and have a thousand pastors serving in churches all across Mozambique and into South Africa and Malawi. These churches are themselves learning to take in orphans and abandoned children, like a little girl in Chimoio whose father was killed by a land mine and mother was eaten by a lion. Masses of utterly destitute people across the country of Mozambique are finding the ultimate gift this Christmas — Jesus Himself. He continues to heal the sick, raise the dead and reveal Himself to the poorest of the poor, and all who want Him desperately. Here are a few examples. Jitu, an HIV-positive street boy who came to us last year, is now HIV-negative — our first HIV miracle! Jesus used Surpresa Sitoe, one of our leading evangelists, to raise up Shansha, a six-year-old girl who was dead of malaria for over a day. And Joel came into our office to tell us what Jesus did for him. His father was killed in the war, and his mother died of cerebral malaria. We found him hungry and beat up on the streets, and took him in. Recently he also got malaria, but in the night a tall, shining angel touched him and placed a Bible in his hands. He was healed immediately and now is full of love and gratitude to Jesus, always ready to testify.
Our last three months have been the most intense ever. Moslem government officials are trying to deny us visas and get us expelled from Mozambique. Corrupt bureaucrats have falsified our corporate documents and put our whole ministry in serious jeopardy in order to extract gain from us. Contractors have stolen from us. Daily there is continuous pressure on us to provide for every kind of desperate personal need. We are concerned for hundreds of thousands of people in our churches across the country, some of whom are walking for days through the bush to get a bite to eat.
But our God has answers, and He works amazingly through His Body. Not even one small child escapes His notice, even in the remotest corner of Africa. We and all our flock spread across Mozambique owe a huge debt of gratitude to those who have supported us this year. We earnestly pray that Jesus will be with you richly in return, and that we will be able to bless you immeasurably with our reports. And may He respond with great favor to all who have spent so much time, effort and money to ship clothes and all kinds of relief goods and gifts for children to us. We are now able to receive major container shipments without excessive trouble, and are deeply moved by the efforts of the many who have worked so hard on such shipments to us. We also acknowledge the amazing effort of everyone at LeSEA Global Feed the Hungry, who sent their ship, the M.V. Evangeline, to Mozambique with millions of pounds of food for emergency relief. It is now our very great joy to distribute much of this food through our network of bush pastors in remote areas where need is so great. Jesus knows that each contribution is so extremely valuable and needed, and it is beautiful to watch him work through all of you!
Please pray for our relationship with various departments in Mozambique’s government as we work on our many documents, visas, permits, etc. We have wonderful friends in high places, and they need the comfort and power of the Holy Spirit as they carry on their work surrounded by corruption, unbelief and anti-foreign sentiment. May our work be used by God to bring more truth and light to those in power here. There are threats of renewed civil war in Mozambique, and much bitterness toward the government because of ongoing terrible poverty in most of the country, but the opposition is weak and without resources. Still, the situation is volatile and there have been violent incidents recently.
Remaining receipts for the year will go out soon. Canceled checks under $250 are sufficient for IRS purposes in the U.S. We’ll receipt contributions of $250 or more, and as requested. We spend very little for administration in the U.S., and try to put as much of our time, energy and resources as possible into meeting needs in Africa.
Please remember our long-term missionary staff in prayer along with us. We have an amazing family here, sent to us by Jesus Himself. May He keep us all strong and encouraged through your intercession, and send us more servants prepared for His use among the poorest of the poor. Right now we have Tanneken and Sophie from Israel; Pieter and Rika, and Peter and Margaret from South Africa; Steve, Ros, Peter and Darryl from Australia; Jonathan from Indonesia; Corrie from Holland; Pauline from New Zealand; Matt from Switzerland; Jesse, Raquel and Edvaldo from Brazil; Jose from Peru; Anna, Matt, Katy and Liz from England; and Gordon, Debbie, Dana, Kim, Katie and Brigid from the United States.
May your Christmas and New Year season be filled with His love, peace and joy! It is so excellent to serve the King!
With much, much love and appreciation,
Rolland and Heidi