The rivers of central Mozambique continue to rise, cutting many thousands of our own church members off from food supplies and medical help. Upstream dams are being opened up to prevent them from overflowing and breaking. The rains continue, and now again Mozambique’s government is helpless without international assistance.
Challenges to our faith in Jesus do not stop. Last week, even as we received daily reports of desperation from the flooded north, a terrible outbreak of cholera hit our center at Zimpeto near the capital city of Maputo. We now think the cholera was introduced by contaminated food brought in to a wedding in our church. The disease is wildly contagious, and within days we had taken 70 children, pastors and workers to a special cholera hospital in town. This is actually a big tent, strictly quarantined, filled with “cholera tables,” bare wood beds with a hole in each and buckets underneath for nonstop diarrhea and vomiting. Every patient was on a IV drip.
Many have died in this emergency hospital. Maputo’s health officials were terrified of a city-wide epidemic. Maputo’s Director of Health put her finger in Heidi’s face and told her, “You will be responsible for killing half of Maputo!” Every day health officials came to our center, desperately trying to identify the source of the cholera and contain its spread. Soon the city police were involved, intent on shutting down our entire center and ministry. For days nothing seemed to help. We were washing and disinfecting everything. Our trucks were making hospital runs day and night. Our own clinic was filled with children on IVs. Our staff was completely exhausted.
Only Heidi was allowed to visit the tent hospital. Every day she would go in and spend hours and hours with our kids, holding them, soaking them in prayer, declaring that they would live and not die. They vomited on her, covered her with filth, and slowly grew weaker. Many were on the edge of death, their eyes sunken and rolling back. The doctors were shocked by her lack of concern for herself, and were certain she would die along with many of our children.
Our stress level was the highest ever. We remembered how we had been evicted from our first center in early 1997, and we just couldn’t take that again. We had been preaching salvation and deliverance with all our hearts to these children we had rescued out of the streets and dump, and now they were slipping away right in front of us. Twenty of our pastors from the north were also in the tent and dying. Some of our weaker pastors desperately wanted to go home, certain that they would all die if they stayed with us. Heidi and I were ready yet again to quit if God did not do something.
But during all of this the Holy Spirit kept falling on our meetings. Again and again all visitors would come to Jesus and hungrily drink in His Presence. A strong spirit of intercession came over our stronger pastors, who would pray all hours, not only for our cholera victims, but for the suffering of the whole nation. Intercessory prayer groups in the U.S. and Canada, and around the world began to pray intensely for us.
Three days ago our entire future in Mozambique was in question. No one had any more answers. Our weakness was complete. Then some of our children began coming home from the hospital, even as others were being taken there. And then there were no more new cases. Extraordinary. And then yesterday everyone was home! Just like that, the cholera is gone. And Heidi is fine.
The doctors and nurses at the hospital are in a state of shock and wonder. The Director of Health again put a finger in Heidi’s face: “You! This is God! The only reason you got through this was God! You and dozens of these children should be dead!” Eight of the medical staff there want to work with us now. “This is miraculous! You know God! We’ve never seen God do anything like this. We’ve never seen such love! We don’t want to work here anymore. We want to work with you!” And so they will.
Several visitors to our center who came down with cholera did die after returning to their huts and refusing to go to the hospital. And we heard that one of our pastors had died, but that report turned out to be mistaken. We did not lose a single person who lives with us at Zimpeto.
So in a matter of days our worst crisis ever has turned into a wave of peace and joy at our center. Last night we worshiped to all hours, beholding His beauty in our hearts and enjoying His company. Our pastors and children are laughing and filled with excitement. What about the flooding up north? What about our thousands who are sick and haven’t eaten in weeks? We don’t know what exactly Jesus is going to do through us yet, but our faith level has grown to new heights. May we trust Him always, and see Him glorified with our own eyes as we walk with Him even in the valley of the shadow of death. May you be encouraged too, and join us in serving the King!
In His great love,