More than Conquerors
Written by Heidi & Rolland Baker
3 AUGUST, MAPUTO, MOZAMBIQUE
Surpresa Sithole, our Mozambican national director, seems incapable of a negative thought. Brimming over with the Holy Spirit, he grins broadly and laughs easily in all circumstances. He is my constant companion in the bush, and we go everywhere preaching together. Jesus supernaturally called him away from his village witch doctor parents and has made him a powerful leader among our churches.
But for a moment today he is more serious. He is on the phone from South Africa, and again we face a test of faith. Simon Ndubani, one of our strongest pastors and a member of our leadership commission in South Africa, is sick. Actually, he is almost dead. Starting with coughing and diarrhea, he’s been declining for a year, but without money for a doctor has not been diagnosed. People suggest that he has advanced stomach cancer, or AIDS — but he’s been tested HIV-negative. Normally a very big man, he is a shrunken shell of what he once was. In the last three days he has deteriorated precipitously. He is in great pain. He cannot eat. He cannot walk. Today he cannot even move or turn over in bed. His vision is blurry, and in the last few hours lost his speech and hearing.
It’s hard to understand, but Simon has been one of our most gifted preachers, and has shown great faith. Jesus has used him to heal the blind and crippled instantly. Many desperate people in his church have come to him for prayer, and have been delivered. He is known as a great man of God. But now he is at death’s door, destitute and helpless. He has no money, insurance or health benefits. His family is without transportation. His wife is sobbing and at her end.
This is really terrible news. What of God’s reputation? How will our churches handle such discouragement? What will we say? Surpresa and I pray over the phone, and we keep praying, along with many others. Surpresa drives Simon to a hospital and carries his thin, bony body to his room. Simon is in a coma, and still Surpresa has to carry him to the toilet every ten minutes. It is such a mess. The doctor expects Simon to die tonight. If he lives three days, it will be a miracle. Simon’s wife is so afraid and distraught she will not even come into the hospital to see him.
Surpresa, Heidi and I have major conference meetings coming up in a few days in Mozambique. We have to speak the Good News to thousands of sick and destitute people without any hope but Jesus. We cannot defend the Lord’s reputation. We will just keep loving Him. Simon is yours, Jesus. You be his God and doctor. We are yours, and we will keep living for you.
And so through the night and the next day we keep praying for Simon — and preparing for our meetings in Maputo and up north. Another night comes, and Simon is still barely alive. On we go. There is no direction but up, into His heart. Saturday comes, and Surpresa is expected to open our regional conference for our southern provinces tonight. But he is still at the hospital with Simon. I call him again, fighting the good fight of faith, because he needs to drive right away to Mozambique.
Surpresa responds with majestic understatement. “Well, it seems like a great miracle has taken place. I’ve been sitting here with Simon this morning, and we’ve been talking and laughing for hours. In fact, Simon doesn’t remember going to the hospital or even why he is here! He is fine. The doctors will give him some extra blood, do a few tests, and send him home…”
Surpresa leaves Simon money for food and transport, and heads off to Maputo where we have a terrific meeting. Days later we hear by phone that Simon is one hundred percent and doing all that he used to do… Jesus has the last say!
Our last two months have been a nonstop series of meetings all over Mozambique, in Malawi and in the States. Partners in Harvest/Iris Africa has grown to well over 4,000 churches spread into ten countries. The spiritual hunger, physical needs and demand for ministry we encounter are indescribable. Daily and weekly we receive desperate calls for yet more bush conferences in hundreds of locations we have not yet been able to visit ourselves. The nets are breaking, there are so many fish.
These conferences typically involve gathering thousands of our people from village churches all around to a central location. All are destitute, so we must provide food and transport for everyone. We meet in an open field, or maybe under trees. We build a rough wooden platform. We bring lights, sound equipment and a generator in our airplane. We spread plastic sheeting over stick frameworks to shelter the women and children from the hot sun. We haul in water, pots, firewood and bags of maize, which we pound and cook all day. In areas of famine this will be the only good food many have eaten in weeks, or even months. The people come with nothing but their one set of ragged clothes. They sleep on grass mats or in the dirt, wrapped only in their cloth skirts. They come with their diseases, sores and infections, and the ravages of malnutrition.
They come because they want to meet Jesus. They want to be touched by Him. They want to be saved from their oppression and misery. They know there is no one else. And as they encounter the goodness of God, they repent and learn to worship Him. Our altar calls often become a mass of people crying out, sobbing and shaking in the hot sun, wind and dust as the Holy Spirit graciously and powerfully moves on them. Jesus is the Deliverer of Africa. He will make a new creation out of each desperate, lost, lonely soul in the remote bush who wants Him…
We bring in anointed guest speakers and visitors from all over the world, and they add their own gifts and emphases to our meetings. They serve beautifully and humbly in every way, large and small. They give their hearts, and receive all the more. We are all broken by the enormity of the damage Satan has done. But in this move of God we find ourselves carried again each morning by His Spirit, ready to endure, learn and be gathered mercifully even deeper into His heart. He is worth it. The fruit we see is worth it. May we all be granted ever-increasing power to comprehend His love, which has overcome the world…
We are encouraged by displays of His power, which are increasing along with the numbers of our churches. In Malawi an old man with a large, terribly infected ulcer on his foot came for prayer. It looked so ghastly, like gangrene or cancer, I thought amputation was the only natural answer. We returned later and his foot was covered over with smooth skin. He grinned and laughed as he showed me his foot, which he was walking on perfectly normally. In Chimoio a blind man spontaneously received his sight as we worshiped. He had been seeing light, but it was all a blur, and suddenly he could see clearly. He immediately called out and jumped to the platform to testify, completely thrilled. In Dondo a few days ago a man was near death, suffering from a huge parasite in his abdomen. The hospital could do nothing. He couldn’t sleep for fear of not waking up. During a time of healing ministry he felt a movement in his body and his pain and condition were gone. During that same conference a little girl paralyzed from the waist down for eight months was healed. Her mother fervently preached to the crowd as the girl walked normally all over the platform. Our staff is compiling these and many more testimonies in detail so we can encourage those who are interested as much as possible.
By now we have had about a dozen resurrections from the dead in our churches. These result in sudden church grown and huge encouragement, but we have learned that not everyone is impressed or radically changed. May we never get so hardened! Now in this time of serious famine we are asking our leaders to pray over every sack of maize, that the Holy Spirit would multiply the grain. We have seen food multiplied repeatedly before, and now we cry out for supernatural help on a large scale…
We are extremely blessed to see the Holy Spirit especially touch our leaders from provinces where we have most recently established a presence. We are now in all ten provinces of Mozambique, and in the last year have seen seven churches established in Cabo Delgado, a heavily Moslem province. Our provincial leader there, Jose, testified powerfully at our conference last week, proclaiming that he knew by experience that Jesus was real and present. In a vision during the meeting he saw a large flock of doves flying over our speakers’ platform, and then moving out and descending on people. Some were bothered and waved the doves away, refusing their presence. But others were receptive, and Jose saw the doves disappear right into their hearts. May we never quench the Holy Spirit, but always receive Him with open, longing hearts!
HEIDI’s NEWS FROM OUR CHILDREN’s CENTERS IN MAPUTO, SOUTHERN MOZAMBIQUE
We continue to find our joy in stopping for the one. In this great revival we must always see the face of the one. I preach around the world, but my favorite place to bring the glorious Good News is still among the poor: in the dark alleys, prisons, brothels, broken-down buildings and the dump. Children from our center pile in my truck to help each time at our outreaches. They love to share their stories on the streets where they used to live.
We have been working hard at re-integrating youth with families. We provide them with school fees, clothes, job training programs and follow-up visits. This has made room for more children at our center. I was able to take in six children from the streets last week. Each one has their story. Each one is transformed by the love of Jesus. We have been concentrating on building homes for the brothers in the dump and the street girls who have found the Lord and want a new life. Although there is great expense involved in purchasing land, building houses, and creating cottage industries, we are thrilled because they are able to keep their children with them. Our heart is to impart the Father-heart of God to all our pastors so they will each take in one to ten children. The government has now taken notice and has welcomed us to do our evangelistic work.
Our schools are going well at both our Zimpeto and Machava centers. Many children are on the waiting list and we need to build more classrooms. Children at our centers truly do radiate the love of Jesus. One of their favorite things is praying for our visitors. We have over 1,000 children living in our Maputo centers and in our Dondo center in central Mozambique. Our challenges increase as they grow up and need land, houses and work projects of their own. Jesus is faithful and He will show us what to do. Please keep praying for us!
Love in Jesus,
The famine I have been writing about since late last year is finally making world-wide news, but after 9/11 and Afghanistan the public’s sensitivity has been dulled. Thirteen million people in six countries are affected, and in southern Malawi where we have hundreds of churches, three million people will starve by the end of the year without massive intervention. The northern provinces of Tete and Zambezia in Mozambique are also suffering terribly from food shortages. We put our burdens on Jesus, not on you, but we are deeply moved to watch Jesus work through you. May He richly be with all of you who are responding to this extreme need.
We are now using a post office box in San Juan Capistrano, California, to receive our support and personal mail in the United States. This location is close to our old address in San Clemente, and will be easier for those helping us with our mail and bank deposits. Money sent to this address will be quickly wired to us in Africa, a much faster and more reliable process than mailing checks to Mozambique directly. Any enclosed personal mail will be sent to us by DHL, along with photocopies of checks. Receipts will be sent from San Juan Capistrano right away. Mail sent to our old address will be forwarded for a limited time.
We eagerly look forward to sending news more frequently about this rapidly expanding revival. We have waited and longed all our lives for this, and we want the light of Jesus to shine brightly to all who are hungry and thirsty. We are intensely grateful for your faithful, fervent, ongoing generosity. And we continue be amazed by all the wonderful visitors Jesus sends to us, and those He is bringing from the far corners of the world to help us with our extremely heavy ministry and administrative load. The cries of the poor overwhelm us daily, but we will keep our eyes on Him, and He will sustain us.
In His great love,