Revival as missions, pure and simple!
Written by Heidi & Rolland Baker
JESUS OUR FOCUS
“But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3 NASB).
We stay on track through all the differing ideas and streams in the church by maintaining our simplicity and purity. We fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. When pressed to the absolute limit, as was Paul, we determine to know nothing but Jesus and Him crucified — the only basis of our confidence. He is the dividing line, the stumbling block, the cutting edge, the point at which we meet salvation and life. No one in the universe is more controversial.
We trust and love Him because He died for us, and rose again on our behalf. He is the one who suffered for us. He paid the penalty for our sins. He purchased our lives with His blood. He showed us what love is. And so we are loyal to Him alone. We belong to Him, and not ourselves. We make it our ambition to please Him. If necessary, like Paul, we will suffer the loss of all things in order to have Him. We forsake every temptation in this life that takes us away from Him, even slightly. He is our greatest pleasure, our ultimate companion. We no longer love the world or anything in it, because He is the supreme object of our desire. Worthy is the Lamb!
We rejoice that we participate in His sufferings, so that we may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. To the end of this age we will endure evil opposition and glorify God by overcoming with faith proven to be genuine. In all our troubles, our joy knows no bounds. As aliens and strangers in this world, we look forward to our perfect inheritance, kept in heaven for us.
In heaven Jesus will be exalted for His obedient suffering, and in the same way we will share in His reward. We conquer by taking the low road. We gain life by losing it, for His sake. We humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt us at the proper time. We learn to love by laying down our lives for others, and in so doing, minister to God Himself.
It is impossible to be devoted to Jesus and not share Him, pure and simple. We cannot see Him now, but God has ordained that we love Him by loving each other, whom we can see. He is love, and so we cannot separate the first commandment from the second. There are many callings, but none higher than to give water to the thirsty and food to the hungry. The intercessors at home and the troops in the trenches are equals in the Kingdom. We learn to love just as we are gifted and called by God.
Missions is our joy, the simple, logical outcome of knowing Jesus. We have life and hope; others don’t. We have reason to rejoice; others don’t. We have love in our hearts; others don’t. We have food and clothes; others don’t. We have health; others don’t. We have family; others don’t. We have no reason to be anxious; others are weighed down with cares. It is obvious that the calling of every believer in Jesus is to have a part in correcting these imbalances.
That may take us across the street or around the world. It is also obvious that we should be utterly available to God to go anywhere and do anything, at any time. He can and will make a way as He leads us. That is the testimony of Iris Ministries, for thirty years.
We begin each day by immediately exercising our faith in Jesus to attack every problem and pressure we have. We throw all our anxiety on Him because He cares for us. This sets us free to rejoice in Him always, and take a positive view of everything. Then we pray for the greatest, most miraculous, victorious day ever! And on we go through the rest of the day, loving and worshiping Him as we use our gifts, natural and supernatural, to bless everyone we can, as deeply as we can.
To us missions is the natural outworking of our faith. It is the way we return the love God has for us. There is no other option. Revival without missions is deficient. To turn away from the lost, poor and needy is to turn away from God. Our intimacy with Jesus extends to one another; such is the excellence and perfection of His Kingdom!
A LANDMARK BUSH CONFERENCE AT MIEZE
Dust hangs thick in the air, a shining cloud in the bright light pouring in from outside. I can hardly believe we’re breathing it all. Rhythmic, pounding feet are kicking up every loose particle on the cement floor. Fire is in the atmosphere. Perspiration is pouring down every face. Life is in the building! Our Mozambican bush believers are dancing their hearts out, celebrating with all their might the dedication of our new church building in Mieze.
Nine years ago we came to this northern province of Cabo Delgado and started a base in Pemba, a small coastal town of some 50,000 people. The predominant Makua people group here was considered virtually unreached and unreachable. But the Holy Spirit backed us up with power, and kindled great hunger for God among the poorest of the poor, as we have seen Him do over and over all these years. Our second church plant was this one right here, just twenty minutes by road south of Pemba.
Since then our pioneering Mieze body of believers have developed into a forerunner for the rest of our churches across the province, which now number more than 1,700. Hundreds have been added since our last newsletter because so many national teams are planting and discipling. We can hardly keep up… But the Mieze church has become more than a simple mud hut with meetings on Sunday. It has become a modest prototype of community development and transformation that continues to progress every week. Here we learn what is possible in God for the poor of this nation, how the Kingdom can impact every aspect of life in a village.
The Holy Spirit came to Mieze years ago, and its fire is blazing brighter than ever. The holy Presence of God is manifested here in a beautiful kaleidoscope of ways, including healings that the people have come to expect and receive regularly. Right now it looks like dancing before the Lord with all our strength. But in today’s meetings it also looks like deepest conviction; tears of desperation, repentance, longing and relief; quiet, glorious, weighty worship; and also the most energetic joy of the Lord…
The Presence in the bush of Africa also looks like homes, schools, farms, food, water wells, family, adoption of many children, fellowship, miracles, fun — the full spectrum of life in God! Today we also celebrate a brand-new building, the precious fruit of a lot of hard work and patience flowing from the vision of our Pastor Juma and director Dr. Don Kantel. It is simple and basic to the extreme, but large and exciting, a community center of faith and hope in a sea of poverty.
We have very special visiting speakers, a working sound system (sometimes!), a worship team from Pemba, and the Presence of Jesus Himself! Outside we have pitched our new evangelistic tent, covering more gatherings for children and special groups. Crowds have converged on us from all directions out of the bush, filling the church already, and with both solemnity and exuberance we are dedicating this physical building for the use of the Master, just as He chooses.
Out of isolation, paganism and witchcraft have risen a people given over to Jesus, and today we are thrilled. May Mieze show the way for the rural poor throughout our Iris family. Transformation is coming, in Jesus’ Name!
THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL IN A WILD BANDIT TOWN
It’s cold inside my tent. I have a cot, which keeps me off the lumpy floor, but a crossbar is still jabbing me in the back, and it’s hard to relax. I’m zipped up in a sleeping bag, with a tiny pillow, and I try to get comfortable somehow. I pray for a long time, just going over with Jesus what has happened tonight.
The dirt courtyard outside is covered with tents, all colors and shapes. We have a contingent from our Bible school and missions school camping for an overnight outreach here in Namanhumbiri, which has been called the most dangerous place in the province, maybe the country. All is just mud huts in this small, infamous town, but its reputation is known far and wide. Our unsaved Mozambican friends in Pemba are horrified that we are here. This place has a long history of out-of-control violence as the haunt of ruby smugglers who come from as far away as Somalia and Thailand to seek their fortune in gemstones however they can. Only recently has the government begun to tame its wildness, illegal trade and banditry. Children are sold for less than ten dollars. Sex slaves are pregnant at eleven years of age. Murders are frequent. Rich ruby deposits in the area have produced a den of evil in the otherwise beautiful and peaceful bush of central Cabo Delgado.
We already have a church and pastor in Namanhumbiri, but our leading Iris pastors in nearby towns have long prayed for a spiritual breakthrough here, and that we would bring teams to challenge the dark forces of the region. Tonight we had our second outreach in the town, after bringing in a big truckload of students on a long trip from Pemba. We showed the Jesus Film, as always, which had the complete attention of over a thousand viewers, including many children in the typical rags of Mozambican poverty. We preached our hearts out, and the response to the Gospel was enthusiastic, yet again.
We always pray for the sick at these outreaches, and usually significant miracles rivet everyone’s attention. We did see physical healings, but tonight was unusual because the greatest need among the crowd was for deliverance from evil spirits and alcoholism. It is common here for demons to choke people by the throat in the night. Our team laid hands on everyone within reach. Relief and joy spread through the throng as the power of the Holy Spirit set one oppressed soul after another free. Jesus is the answer, always, for everything!
Our little camp, so conspicuous among mud huts, has settled down. Most of our budding missionaries and local pastors are asleep now. I ask Jesus to post angels all around us for protection. Many hearts have opened to Him tonight, the bound and oppressed are tasting the thrill of freedom in the Spirit, pastors are happy, and we have taken a significant step toward transformation of this community. Heidi and I are shocked ourselves by how fast revival is spreading in northern Mozambique. We have added hundreds of churches in recent months, and now total around 1,700 churches in this one province. We live to bear fruit, and thanking Jesus for such a privilege, I join Heidi and fall asleep too.
At first light in the crisp morning we wake to quiet chatter as our visitors emerge from their strange-looking tents before curious, laughing village children standing all around. Breakfast is coffee, bread and jam, such a luxury here. Nobody is in a hurry as we relax and discuss our outreach and the unique challenges of this place.
But more happened last night than we realized. Interest is building around Heidi, who is seated over in a corner under a grass roof interviewing a young man who has a testimony. He the nephew of the village chief, and he will never be the same. Since he was a small boy of around eight he has never heard a sound. He was at our meeting watching everything, but couldn’t hear a thing. Heidi prayed for him, and then as he slept he had a vision in which a man in white came to him and put drops in his ear. This morning he woke up hearing perfectly, and able to talk again (see photo gallery)! Of course Heidi explained that the man was Jesus, and now we have another fervent believer among us!
Heidi and I have to leave by bush plane to other meetings, but we don’t leave the team alone here, and arrange for them to be taken to a safer town for tonight. We encourage our pastor in the area and decide to meet with his people away from threats at his church building. So we all hike down a long dirt path past many ruby smugglers to a large, beautiful pond out of town, worship the Lord freely in the wild, open beauty, and baptize new believers among the flowers and lily pads in the cool water. Even those hardened men we met along the way softened as we stopped for them too. We cannot have enough of revival in Africa!
Back in Pemba, our Mozambican friends outside our church are beginning to understand why we deliberately go to dark, dangerous places where there is so much suffering. We are not afraid. God’s love is not powerless, and we bring His Presence with us! Every day we apply our faith and look forward to even greater demonstrations of what He alone can do. So pray with us as we appoint a strong team to return to Namanhumbiri and bring more of His Kingdom!
Our faith has grown stronger over the years, and so Jesus is allowing us to face even greater challenges. We thank and bless each of you who have grown with us, and continue to stand firm with us as friends, counselors, intercessors, supporters and helpers of all kinds. We love you for making your lives and resources available for the Master’s use. We are especially encouraged by the high percentage of our missions school graduates who are actively serving the Lord all over the world. Our national missions graduates are changing Mozambique through the fire of God’s love. We are so grateful for those of you who are specifically shouldering with us the increasing burdens of our work right here in Pemba. You are each such a miracle from Jesus!
Our Iris family is now ministering in dozens of countries around the world, and our highlight this past week was our Global Team meetings here in Pemba. In our next newsletter we will share something of what we have learned and received as we met together with our amazing family of leaders. We are determined to stay broken and low, hungry for Jesus and absolutely everything that comes with His Presence!
We pray you will share our excitement at what the Holy Spirit will do next among us, continuing to overturn the worst Satan can do in the earth. Our labor and steadfastness are not in vain. Let’s run the race to win and press forward together to the best yet!
Learning to love more than ever,
Rolland and Heidi