FLOODS OF REVIVAL
Written by Heidi & Rolland Baker
MORRUMBALA, SATURDAY, 3 MARCH 2007
Heidi and I have one more day in the flood zone before we fly our Cessna back to Pemba. So we are up early at the World Vision compound in Morrumbala, loading our Land Rovers and big trucks for a trip to more refugee camps. We would especially like to get to the flooded Shire River and paddle our way in dugout canoes to people stranded on isolated islands.
Our little convoy heads east on a dirt road through the pristine African bush. The mountains and skies are in their full glory, wild, clear and beautiful. Brilliant cumulus clouds perfectly accent the deep blue heavens overhead, hiding a dark fury that has been unleashed on this land for two months. Heavy rains and cyclones have pounded southeast Africa until now over 300,000 people in this area have been forced from their houses and have lost everything.
A thousand feet above the flood plain, the countryside around Morrumbala is poor, but lush, green and relatively dry. We are racing and swerving over the rutted, winding road to make time. We raise clouds of dust, climb hills, dip into valleys, wave to children in villages, and press on to the infamous river.
But suddenly we encounter a camp we didn’t expect. It is huge. We can’t just drive by, so we pull off the road and stop, surrounded by a desperate crowd. They find out who we are, and they are thrilled. Many of them are already in our churches, and so we start singing and worshiping even as we discuss the situation with their leaders.
These people haven’t eaten in weeks. The rising waters forced them from their houses along the river plain, and they slogged on foot through muddy swamps until they reached high ground and gathered in huge camps. When they arrived they had nothing but the ragged clothes on their backs. The people literally sat on the ground in pouring rain, thunder and lightning with no shelter, food, or visible hope. Children were sick, crying and screaming. Some ran naked like animals. The desperate tried to eat nasty roots and worms out of the ground. Skin and eye infections, intestinal disorders, malaria and an array of other health problems began to spread.
After some days the people began building primitive little huts out of nearby sticks and grass, and now there is a sea of these huts for the six thousand refugees in this one camp (see photos!). But still the people sit and sleep on the dirt with absolutely nothing — no flashlights, toilets, CD players, sleeping bags, cots, Coleman lanterns, tea kettles, bug spray, fans, water bottles or hot dogs. They just wait — tired, hot, dirty, hungry and sick. Our visiting doctor, Koos Le Roux from near Cape Town, begins to treat cases, and says he’s never seen such a needy medical situation.
While some of us discuss food logistics, we preach too, and pray for the sick. Terry Inman and Rodney Hogue, pastors from the San Francisco Bay Area, flew immediately here to help us minister, and they passionately pour their hearts out with Heidi and me. No one resists the Gospel. Everyone is eagerly listening to every word, responding to every call, wanting prayer for everything. Many already know Jesus, as we have probably several thousand churches in this one province, but now they understand all the more how much they need Him.
We brought tons of rice, beans, blankets, plastic tarp and other supplies, but not enough for the whole camp at once. Organizers are afraid if we feed only part of the camp, there will be rioting and bloodshed. But no other supplies have come to this camp yet, and we just can’t take the food away. We are assured other organizations will bring additional food immediately.
Meanwhile, in the hot sun and under trees all around, Jesus is saving and healing. Four deaf people hear this morning. Our own Mozambican pastors are praying throughout the crowd. We always have good news, we tell the people. Jesus knows your suffering. Through all of this we will seek Him more, and He will reveal Himself more than we ever thought He would.
We have to go, but will be back with much more. We only made it to the edge of the actual flood waters, and never got to an island, but Jesus knew what we had to do.
TWO DAYS LATER IN PEMBA
Three hours’ flight to the north, we are preparing more teams to drive south and help in the relief effort. The poor of our own church in Pemba pour their hearts out in generosity, some giving up months of salaries and their humble but most valuable possessions. As our first sketchy reports get out, churches and friends are responding from around the world. As a relief organization, Iris Ministries is just a little child with a lunch to give, but we are so pleased to give it and see what Jesus can do.
We learn that there are more than thirteen refugee camps near Morrumbala along the Shire River, which flows into the Zambezi from Malawi. Many more camps of refugees have formed along the Zambezi and other rivers that have also flooded. These camps are remote and very difficult to access by road, and some can only be reached by helicopter. Two thousand people a day are pouring into them.
We were persuaded by disaster relief personnel that we should take complete care of one camp of nearly three thousand, instead of trying to help many camps in some smaller way, dividing and confusing the work of different aid agencies. However, we have received news that no further food and supplies were delivered by anyone else to the camp we last visited, and that in fact many other camps are not expected to receive any aid at all from anyone unless Iris can respond. Now we are being told that many thousands of lives are dependent on Iris supplying the necessary relief and filling the aid vacuum in the months to come.
In the big picture, 100,000 acres of crops have been destroyed at the height of the growing season, and this follows last year’s major crop failure due to severe drought. And still this is only the beginning of March, and weather forecasters are warning of more flooding until the rainy season is over.
At the moment, the Zambezi River has subsided, but is still past the flood stage. The discharge of water from the Cahora Bassa dam on the river has been reduced to one-third of the 8,000 cubic meters per second that it was releasing at one point when it was in danger of structural failure. When Heidi and I arrived in our plane several weeks after the initial emergency, the flood waters had receded some, but the land left behind was still soggy, swampy and unusable.
Following the Good Shepherd’s example, we have always tried to set a pattern of going to most remote and forgotten areas we can, and now in this crisis the result is that our people are looking to God and to us for help that is not forthcoming from other directions. A wave of humanity in Mozambique is again left without any hope but Jesus. And again we are in a position to participate in the building of the Kingdom in the most unlikely places, and to see another level of revival that we could not have predicted or imagined. We don’t know yet all that God will do in this country among our Mozambican people, but He surprises us every day. Reports of miracles are flowing in from the camps. Four blind people saw and two deaf people heard today. Our pastors and visitors are being filled with new energy. The gifts of the Spirit are being stirred up. More revival than ever is brewing. The word is getting out, and the church is coming together. May we see His glory in the faces of the redeemed in the Zambezi Valley. As one eleven-year-old in America prophesied, “I have to tell you what the Lord told me. He said that the rains will cease, but the flood has just begun. Mozambique is a community cup, and all who drink from there will be saved!”
We thank with all our hearts everyone who has responded so far, including churches and ministries who have already taken amazing offerings. May Jesus multiply all that you give in an unprecedented way, and return to you vastly more than you anticipate!
As always, donations can be sent to our U.S. support address, P.O. Box 493995, Redding, CA 96049-3995, USA, or to our offices in Canada and the U.K. as listed at the end of this newsletter. Additional inquiries concerning involvement with our relief effort can be sent by email to Mary Chico at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can telephone her at our Redding office, 1-530-255-2048 (cell: 1-530-921-0253).
In Mozambique you will be directed to our coordinator, Angela Olson, at email@example.com, tel: +258-82-552-2944, or Teisa Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: +258-82-916-9280. Their assistant Janiko is at +258-82-420-2825. If necessary regarding transportation and other details they will refer you to Betty Johnson at email@example.com, tel: +258-82-886-4700. In the Morrumbala area of Zambezia Province our relief coordinator is Herbert Barbutti at firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: +258-82-708-7885, and our Mozambican staff member Carlos at +258-82-025-8650. South of the Zambezi our relief coordinator is Claudia Bernhardt in Dondo near Beira, at email@example.com, tel: +258-82-595-9157.
All inquiries regarding shipments to Mozambique can be directed to Gordon Haggerty at firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: +258-82-568-4183.
May you all be hugely encouraged by the power, wisdom, love and joy of the Lord!
In Jesus, Rolland
Thank you for praying for us during this difficult time of flooding and cyclones. We are feeding many thousands of people each day in various camps in Caia and Zambezia. We are also rebuilding churches in Cabo Delgado that were washed away in the floods.
I just finished interviews with several journalists from the Mozambique national radio station. As I shared with them about the needs and our desire to help, they were visibly touched. Please pray the Lord will use these interviews in mighty ways!
We are overwhelmed with gratitude for people who have been helping us “for such a time as this.” The Lord spoke to me from John 6 that Iris Ministries is an example of the boy with his bread and fish. We have handed Jesus our lunch and He is multiplying it for the multitudes. Tens of thousands of people have given their hearts to Jesus in these last weeks! The deaf have heard, the blind have seen and the poor have heard the Good News. I don’t think I have ever seen such suffering and hunger as I encountered in the camps in Zambezia. We thank God every day for your love and concern for the poor.
Please pray for the favor we need with the government of Mozambique as we are having a difficult time receiving the containers duty free. We have just received a phone call today telling us that we passed the first phase of approval from the government’s emergency coordination commission, and we are awaiting the national director’s approval now.
Much love in Jesus,