Jesus on the Move
Written by Heidi & Rolland Baker
It is late Saturday night, and again we are meeting in the moonlight among the poor in a far corner of Mozambique. A crowd is gathered at the front of our unfinished mud, stick and rock church watching the Jesus film. Children are sitting in the dirt in front of the screen, squeezed in by adults straining to see over each other. This is Pemba, a strongly Moslem town on the northeast coast, but everyone we talk to is hungry for Jesus once they hear about Him. The film goes on and the people are completely absorbed. They have never seen anything like this.
But I am sitting in the dark off to the side under a tree talking with one of our pastors, Antonio Tanuekue, from Nampula to the south. He is telling me about two more resurrections from the dead. A lady from far out of town was taking her malaria-stricken three-year-old girl to the hospital. On the way the girl died. The mother knew Pastor Antonio, and she carried her daughter to his house, which was nearby. For three hours Antonio’s wife Florinda rocked this child’s cold, dead body in her arms and prayed for her as the mother sobbed. Then the girl’s head began to get warm, and Florinda and Antonio began to pray more excitedly. Soon the girl was alive and restored completely. But at first the mother was so afraid she would lose her daughter again that she stayed in the pastor’s house for three days.
On another recent occasion a mother lost her one-year-old baby girl to malaria also and brought her to Florinda wrapped in the folds of her African skirt. And again after about three hours of prayer, this child began to warm up and came alive too. I find out that many people come to Pastor Antonio for prayer from all around. They come at any time of day or night, sometimes at three in the morning, and many are healed. Antonio is very understated, like our other pastors, not at all anxious for publicity, and concerned that too much talk will detract from his anointing. But we do want the world to know that our Jesus does raise the dead, that it is not any more difficult for him than healing malaria or any other disease, and that it should not be considered incredible. It is the normal life of God poured out in revival. Such miracles bring wonderful church growth, and greatly increased devotion among the families and friends of those involved.
Antonio is our provincial pastor of Nampula Province, also a Moslem area. It is far from our center in Maputo and we only had our first conference there last year in a small mud church. Yet in this short time twenty-five churches have been added around the city of Nampula, and the people are crying out for more teaching and conferences. All over Mozambique the poor in spirit want the presence of God more than food or clothes, even in their extreme poverty.
We are often asked what brings about church growth here. Is it our Bible teaching, Bible school structure, bush conferences, strategy, what? Many things may be involved, but our own pastors tell us that it is miracles that bring the people. They go where Jesus heals them, loves them and does things for them. We might say those things shouldn’t be necessary, but our people are very simple. They don’t want to go where they can’t feel or appreciate the presence of Jesus, even if the place is a beautiful, traditional church. They don’t want to exchange their powerful witch doctors for a powerless church. They want a living God involved with their lives who can be trusted in everything, and who has more power than any opposition.
In return, of course, our pastors love and serve God. They do so on tiny amounts of income. They journey huge distances on foot and on jammed, dilapidated buses over rough roads. They keep preaching and leading the people without complaint even in famine and disaster. They are burning up with fervor to bring all of Africa to Jesus. Our national directors are led by the Holy Spirit. They tell me their dreams and visions. They seem incapable of negative thoughts. They know our God is in control. They just want to spend and be spent for Him. They are normal children of the King!
We are just now expanding into Cabo Delgado Province, where Pemba is located. Heidi and I flew up here to secure an amazing piece of property located on a hill by the ocean surrounded by the grass huts of the poor. It’s a big property, but filled with squatters, and in the center on the very top is the ruins of a large, old building. We’ll repair the walls a bit, cover the structure with a simple roof, and we’ll have a rough shelter for meetings of thousands of people. We’ll just let the warm sea breezes blow through all the big holes and gaps and make the place a spiritual lighthouse set on a hill for the whole Moslem community to see.
We are restless and want even more fruit. We can’t stay in Maputo and keep doing the same things. We want more of His Kingdom and His righteousness. We want revival to keep spreading through Africa, among the poor, among the Moslems, among everyone, high and low, who is hungry for a Savior who can truly save.
Now it’s Sunday back in our little church where we showed the Jesus film last night. Our local pastor began with fifteen people here and built this place next to our big hilltop property in anticipation of our arrival. One hundred fifty are here now, and all want Jesus. We call up our leadership commission of six for prayer. The Holy Spirit falls on them. They are weeping intensely and laughing with great joy. They are on the ground worshiping and praying in tongues. They are hugely moved by the emotions of God Himself. They will lead our church planting team, and they are supernaturally motivated. The harvest is ready among the Moslems of the north, and we want to be there.
Back in Maputo at our main center we send out a revival team that comes back every week with the most wonderful reports. Churches are planted through miracles. Last week they went up to Xai-Xai, about three hours’ drive north of Maputo. Two years ago the people along the Limpopo River there experienced the horror of record-breaking floods, but this year they have been suffering from drought. Our team preached, but the people cried out, “Give us rain! Pray for rain! Can your God bring rain?” And so the team prayed. That night an amazing deluge poured down on all of southern Mozambique. The heavy rain continued for six hours through the night. And the next day 1,200 people showed up at the start of our new church. That’s how the Holy Spirit plants churches…
Up in Malawi where there is serious famine we are grading an old airstrip in Bangula so we can fly in relief goods. A container is on the way and more are being planned. Your offerings are coming in. A house is being made ready for teams, and we have a warehouse for food. Conferences are coming up, bush-style. Teams are heading that way. Offers of help and cooperation are arriving from other mission groups. Conditions are still severe. Most children no longer go to school, as they cannot even eat. The weakest are dying already. But Jesus is on the move, and we pray the fruit will be great. May we know Him intimately enough to know exactly how to respond.
Your help and participation with us in the Gospel move us daily. Visitors keep arriving, saturating our atmosphere with love and intercession, and in return they are transformed by the grace of God they see among the poor in this faraway, little-known country. May Jesus have His way with us all. The Body of Christ is beautiful!
In His great love,