One Night in Pemba
Written by Heidi & Rolland Baker
SOMEWHERE SOUTH OF PEMBA… TUESDAY, 9 NOVEMBER 2004
The night is so dark. The road south of Pemba is finally paved, but the villages we drive through are the same as they have been for centuries. Each seems still, quiet, lifeless, almost ghost-like in the night. With no electricity, or even candles and lanterns, they melt quickly away into the darkness as we pass by in our Land Rover. We are headed fifty miles out of town for yet another outreach in a Moslem village untouched by the Gospel so far. We know that all around us in that void, without light or movement that we can see, are people — thousands of souls who are without hope and without God in the world.
Our diesel engine is loud and steady. Our windows are rattling. We pass an occasional slow and timid driver. We turn off the main two-lane highway and head west toward the villages of the Makonde, another major unreached ethnic group in this province. After years spent in Asia, Africa seems so sparse, so empty. But seventy percent of Mozambique’s almost twenty million people live in extreme isolation out in the bush, and Jesus knows where each one is. On we drive to the harvest!
Suddenly along the side of the road ahead we see a rectangle of light, and it turns out to be the video projection screen our advance team is using. They went on ahead hours ago with a big flatbed truck to set up a sound system and projector, and the Jesus film has been showing since sundown. We pull up in the dirt to a familiar scene. The whole local village is standing in the dark around the screen, which can be viewed from both sides. Four speakers are pointed in all directions. Everyone is listening intently. Old grannies, young men, small children are all caught up with this Jesus they have known nothing about.
As the film ends and Jesus is rising in the air returning to heaven, we turn on a few crude fluorescent lights and Heidi jumps up to greet the crowd with her Makua interpreter. She starts with some Makua herself, which thrills everyone. Imagine a blonde American girl speaking their obscure tribal dialect way out in this village! And then “Mama Aida” pours her heart out describing this awesome, living Jesus who is their one hope of salvation, the one person they absolutely must find and have forever. He is God revealed. Who wants Him? Who wants His forgiveness, His heart, His eternal life? This time no one is throwing rocks and sand. No one is yelling, mocking and disrupting the gathering. Everyone in this Moslem crowd is enthusiastically interested in pursuing this good news, this salvation that has been offered to them for the first time.
But wait. There’s more. Everyone who needs healing, come forward! Especially the blind and deaf! Jesus is here to heal! A small crowd shuffles to the front, not exactly knowing what to expect. Heidi finds a blind lady and starts praying softly and gently for her. Minutes go by. Let the faith and love flow. Contend for the healing. Stand firm. Relax in His power. Soon the lady can see, but how clearly? Keep praying. Hold up keys, fingers, other things. She identifies them all. Now she can see clearly (see photo)! She is really happy, and the news spreads through the crowd. We are getting very excited. A deaf-mute shows up. Again Heidi and all of us are praying. Patience. Don’t stop. Keep praying. Starting talking, prompting. Can he hear? Can he repeat words? In a few minutes, he can! And then he starts to repeat whole sentences clearly and easily (see photo). The people find out and erupt with joy. It has been years since anyone heard him speak — they can’t remember how long. The whole village knows these two and what Jesus has just done for them. Now who wants to follow Jesus? Everyone!! Right now! The village has come to life and will never be the same…
We pray with everyone together. We celebrate. Our visiting missionaries and local pastors take turns encouraging the new believers. We continue to pray for the sick. Already we start thinking about how to get a pastor to this village and consolidate what has been accomplished in one night. We are especially encouraged because we are told that this village is the gateway to the Makonde, and we expect in the Lord that village after village toward the west will come to Jesus in quick succession. And so the province of Cabo Delgado is being won…
SUNDAY, 14 NOVEMBER 2004
Back at our Zimpeto base in southern Mozambique, our hundreds of children and staff have gathered again to worship, and I start to speak. We have just experienced an intense, wonderful conference the week before, and now we must keep running the race — to win! We never look back. We press forward to what lies ahead in Jesus, always to better things still! The best is always in front of us! Here in Mozambique we are truly surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. At least thirty-three have been raised from the dead. Most in our church this morning have seen a miracle, something only God can do. Many have been healed. Nearly everyone here has felt the love of God and been captured by the Savior.
We will keep pursuing the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. We will lay aside the sin that so easily entangles. We will gain strength by exercising our faith, feeding ourselves on His Word, and finding our rest in Him. Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ (Eph. 4:15), who is our wisdom, righteousness and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30)!
And we will revel in His power and presence! We love His company and gifts! We are dead in our sins without His energy; helpless without His Spirit. We intensely love His every touch, His every manifestation. We love to be loved by Him, and He loves to be loved by us. We love His smiles and favors, and we go to the ends of the earth at any cost to share His fiery, incomparable heart. And we will do so with joy, the cutting edge of our faith and love! We will take pleasure in our God, and He will be with us until we see Him face-to-face in His heavenly Kingdom.
Our Zimpeto family does want to keep running the race. The altar is crowded with seekers hungry for still more faith, love and joy. Worship continues intensely. Tears and joy both flow from hearts moved yet again by the Holy Spirit. We have tasted revival, just a sample of what is to come, and we will not slow down and fall back. We are fired with the energy of heaven, which works so powerfully in us (Col. 1:29).
THE BIG PICTURE AT IRIS
Heidi and I have been on a travel and speaking schedule in Africa and around the world that has kept us from being in any one place more than a few days all this past year. We are often separated, going from meeting to meeting, hardly able to keep up with friends and email, yet we are thrilled with God’s presence in our lives.
In our frequent absence, our staff, both foreign and Mozambican, have been heroic in the Lord. They are stretched beyond description by needs, crises, delays, frustrations and attacks without number. They work in an environment almost without infrastructure, trying to bring order and solutions to the chaotic aftermath of centuries of poverty and witchcraft. It is impossible to describe their challenges to a Western culture. Yet they persevere, and have become more than conquerors.
Always tempted to scale back and simplify our work, we instead press on to fulfill the vision that we in leadership have so vividly received from the Lord. We are in awe of our supporters and friends around the world through whom God sustains us supernaturally, and who continue to give so faithfully without pressure, or even much communication from us. May Jesus Himself, who remembers your every tear and sacrifice, be your exceedingly great reward.
Visitors head our way in ever-increasing numbers. Please be patient with our application process, as our staff must seek the Lord and be selective in accordance with His will and our logistical capability. As always, the more faith and self-sufficiency you bring with you, the more helpful you will be!
By now we have seven difference bases at which short- and long-term visitors can serve. Five are in Mozambique, one is in South Africa, and one in Malawi. Each is unique and at a different stage of development. In Pemba in the far north of Mozambique, we are planning to inaugurate a new school of missions next June so that students can experience missions as well as study about it! Heidi and I can be in one place more often, and we can bring anointed men and women of God from around to world to help us teach in a very fruitful, responsive mission environment. At the same time we can together face the issues of ministry to the poor that we hardly encounter in the West. We are calling this school “Holy Given: Iris International School of Missions,” and you can find out more by emailing our staff at email@example.com.
We as a small band of laid-down lovers are learning to love even more. We are jars of clay; our shortcomings are obvious, yet in them we are learning to trust God who raises the dead (2 Cor. 1:9). We are growing faster than ever, and we are straining forward to reach into Sudan and other northern African countries as soon as possible. We receive a stream of pleas from those intensely eager for more revival and the work of the Holy Spirit all over Africa. May Jesus send the workers of His choice who will carry His glory throughout Africa and all the way to Jerusalem!
On we go in Jesus!
HERE IS A SPECIAL, RECENT MESSAGE FROM HEIDI:
The glory of the Lord is covering the earth as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14). Jesus’ love is flooding over Mozambique — and especially our northern base in Pemba. This area is quickly coming to the Lord. As I watch Him call the poor into the wedding feast, I grow more and more in love. All I want is to be hidden in His huge heart and lost in His love, fully possessed by His Holy Spirit. I want to live in the Ezekiel 47 river. I want to be fully immersed in His glory, to see His eyes, to touch His heart, and to give His ceaseless love away to a lost and dying world. We can be so laid down that nations come to Him. And we are watching this nation come to Jesus.
After a very intense three-week trip of eight conferences and preaching up to five times a day, I returned to Pemba. The enemy hates when I come home. I got bumped off my flight twice. My plane broke down. The airline broke their own rules to keep me off a confirmed flight, and I had to reroute my whole trip after spending three days on a plane. And (of course) they lost my luggage. Talk about warfare! I cried in the airport, because all I wanted to do was go home and learn Makua, sit with the poor and love my children. But the more the enemy fought me, the more Jesus helped me realize why the enemy does not want me home.
Finally, I came home three days late. A huge 4-ton flatbed truck of singing children serenaded me as I walked off the plane. All the children flooded the airport to greet me. The other passengers got a little bit miffed by the traffic jam of our beautiful brown children. I could barely walk with our precious treasures hanging off my every limb.
I rushed straight from the airport to our base in Pemba where we are graduating 75 new pastors from one of our five Bible schools. I preached for the graduation, and His sweet Spirit came and filled our simple open-air church. Not one pastor was left standing as His Spirit blasted them all. We really don’t do calm church in Africa, or have typical altar calls and traditional graduations. This day our happy, humble pastors were commissioned to be carriers of His glory to the darkest corners of Mozambique.
After graduation we had many baby dedications and a wedding. After dinner with our co-workers and children, we took ten of our own children to my house for a sleepover. I am watching Jesus transform their little orphan spirits into full spirits of sonship. We are seeing God raise up an army of preachers and pastors out of the streets and the garbage dumps. These children are so full of Jesus, and they are our inheritance. We love them dearly.
The next day we had our staff meeting and I felt led to preach from Ephesians 6 about spiritual warfare. The enemy has been fighting so hard to keep us out of Pemba. My house has been broken into countless times, the government still has not released the proper paperwork we need to build our new center in Pemba, and every day we face endless challenges. But Jesus’ love is more than enough! We believe in His cross. We believe His book is true. We trust Him for everything. And now after years and years of the Makua and Makonde being labeled as unreached tribes, we are seeing them come to Jesus week by week by the thousands.
We are in the first week of the Moslem holy month of Ramadan. We kicked off the Moslem festival by seeing Jesus touch many believers. After a staff meeting, our children and the pastors walked across the street to the Indian Ocean to baptize our new believers. Shara, my awesome assistant, carried a half-paralyzed crippled man, Antonio, on her back after picking him up from crawling on the streets of Pemba. He gave his life to Jesus and came up from the turquoise waters with a bright beaming smile ear-to-ear. Oh, the love of Jesus! I baptized many Makua children whom we just took in as our own. Ramadan, Omar, Osama, are now living testimonies of the power of His love.
Last year during Ramadan, the Moslem society announced on the radio, “We are losing the battle to Ministerio Arco-Iris!” This year during this holiday we had a powerful outreach and saw hundreds healed and delivered after a completely deaf child came to Jesus and got his hearing for the first time in his life.
During the outreach I received a phone call inviting me to a very elite meeting with all the government leaders of Pemba. The mayor and other key business and political leaders were all there. God is opening incredible doors of favor to reach the poorest of the poor, but also the poor in spirit. I was the only guest not born in Mozambique, and I just laughed with Jesus. He will fully posses Pemba!
Please believe our great Father with us. We desperately need your prayers. I saw a vision of fire blazing all the way from Mozambique through Africa to Jerusalem. We can ask our Beloved for every nation as our inheritance. He wants every orphan on the continent of Africa. We are going to take millions of orphans as our own. There is more than enough because He died. The fire of His passionate love will be carried all the way back to Jerusalem. These are the best times to be alive!