Here’s the sequel to our last newsletter, “HOW TO HAVE A CONFERENCE (for the poor)”:
“Nothing’s getting across the Zambezi,” Darryl announces over the phone. “The ferries aren’t running and I had to drive my Isuzu back down the Caia road. The truck got so damaged I barely made it home!” Our Morrumbala conference plans are already in pieces. Without our trucks, we’re going to have to fly all of us and our equipment across the river.
We get our team of pastors past the Zambezi to Quelimane by commercial plane, and I haul the generator and all the sound gear I can in our Cessna. We manage to hire a beat-up van to take most of the team to Morrumbala, and again I load my plane down. I touch down onto weeds and rocks just before sunset the night of our first meeting. The airstrip has hardly been used in years. We are in remote Africa, far from hotels and restaurants, surrounded by the silent suffering of poverty. Mozambique’s civil war was cruel to Morrumbala, a frequent battleground. Many died, leaving many more orphans. And now floods, hunger and disease bear down on the people with even more cruelty.
But today hundreds of children in their rags jump and shout all around us as we unload. The missionaries have come! This is a big night for our churches all across Zambezia Province. Pastors have traveled on foot and by local transport for days to join us here. They are so excited, so encouraged. Jesus has not forgotten them. They are part of His Body, linked together in spirit and love across huge distances. In Him they have found family! They have wanted this conference for so long.
We move into simple guest rooms at a World Vision compound, a huge help to us. Soon the van arrives after a long, rough trip and our team is together again. The sky darkens and the stars of the southern hemisphere enrich the heavens in their vast array. The town is dim. The air cools down. There is no arena or auditorium. We just move out onto a dirt field nearby and see what has been set up for us. Thousands have already arrived from the bush, and they have been cooking maize in big pots over wood fires. Tonight they will huddle on straw mats laid out on the dirt under trees or in a bombed-out building by the field with no roof. They have no changes of clothes. There is no running water. There are no bathrooms or showers. They don’t even have toothbrushes or towels. They live with sweat and dirt, decaying teeth, sickness and running sores. And tonight they will be cold. But they have come for the fire of the Holy Spirit…
Some crude planks have been nailed together for a speaking platform in the center of the field, covered by plastic sheeting for protection from the next day’s sun. Crowds surge toward us, trying to see what we’re doing. We set up our generator far off to one side and run a long cord to the platform. Everyone wants to see the Jesus film this first night, so somehow in the darkness and all the confusion we string up a king-size bed sheet for a screen and set up the projector and sound system. Thick, blowing dust is kicked up by tramping feet. Someone mislabeled the videotape and we have the wrong dialect. The people understand enough and want us to show it anyway. The video plug is intermittent and the screen keeps going blank. Everyone desperately wants to see. They press in and fall over each other. Children are under my feet and everywhere. Pastors are trying to keep the crowd under control. I’m trying to keep the video working. This event is unimaginably rare and special, and no one wants to miss out.
Just before the end, the projector quits completely. We turn on a floodlight and start preaching anyway. Everyone wants Jesus. Everyone is shouting, cheering, singing and praying. Out of disorder comes a huge cry for the King. We have come together for Him! He is the hope of Mozambique, the only salvation for these destitute people, so poor in spirit. In all the noise and tumult Jesus is finding lost sheep, and He will hold them safely in His heart forever…
Eventually there is quiet and we can tear down for the night. I walk back to our compound, exhausted. It’s impossible for so many people to see such a video. But hunger for God has broken out, and Zambezia will not be denied the Gospel. For the rest of our three days in Morrumbala our team preaches and teaches — in the hot sun, in the dark night, at every available moment. No one resists the Gospel. Children eagerly gather to hear Bible stories. The sick are brought to us for prayer. Passionately our speakers impart a pastor’s heart to our church leaders in the bush, who are thrilled. The Holy Spirit sweeps through the meetings, and with shaking, weeping and loud cries the hungry throw themselves before God. They need Him, they want Him, they love Him. And He loves them back. Hearts are filled. Energy and initiative rise up. Visions are granted. Healings are reported. A girl deaf and dumb from birth speaks for the first time, and her family and friends sing and dance all the way back to their village.
Now we have to move on to yet another conference to the south at Dondo. Again we will see revival. Intense hunger for God is sweeping this country. Our pastors do another careful count of our churches, and we find that we have more than three thousand, including those in Malawi and South Africa — a thousand more than we realized. We count as a church a group of more than fifty, and these churches usually include as many as can hear a preacher’s voice without a sound system — three hundred or more. We are approaching the point of having a church in every single village in large areas of central Mozambique and southern Malawi. Pastors are calling us from other countries — Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, wanting the same revival. Our leading evangelists cannot wait to get to Angola and Sudan. The harvest is ready! The wedding feast is prepared, and the poor must be called in!
We are asked how we can continue doing such tiring work. How do we put up with such poverty and stressful conditions? How can we deal with so many people and needs? How long can we do this? But we have nothing to gain by slowing down and trying to hold on to our lives. We give ourselves as a fragrant offering of love to Jesus, and in return He give us His supernatural life. We have to stand up and face some of the poorest people on earth, who suffer, starve and die as most of us cannot imagine. Yet we can confidently preach: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:35-39).
We have His love. We have Him! This is no time to be conservative. This is no time to let our hearts by captured by this world. We cannot improve on His will and His life. Let’s concentrate on what captures God’s attention, and spend ourselves as He spends Himself. He knows what is worthwhile to do, so let’s learn from Him and not waste our lives. We will never run dry. We always have His resources, because He died for us. Let’s run the race to win, and never stop bearing fruit.
Join us! Come preach, teach, serve and stay. Search for Him with all your heart. Set your heart on nothing less than revival. Support the work of the Lord, here and wherever He is glorified. Be useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Be filled with the Spirit!
We love and thank all of you who have supported us with great sensitivity and generosity. Many have written to encourage us, and your love has been a rich gift from Jesus. We, our staff and our children continue to be extremely thankful for all the parcels of clothes and other badly needed goods that you have mailed to us. It is such an exciting sight to see these boxes opened and distributed. And we thank all our visitors who have given time, effort and talents in His great love. The Body of Christ is beautiful! May He be with you richly in every way, and have His way perfectly with us all.
With much, much love in Him,
ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND AND INFO:
As required by law, our churches in Mozambique are formally organized and registered with the government as Comunhao na Colheita (“Community in Harvest” in Portuguese). In other countries we are also organizing as needed. We began our ministry with orphaned and abandoned children in the capital city of Maputo, but in time as pastors around us saw what God was doing they wanted ministry, teaching and oversight as well. This represents a general hunger for God spreading throughout the country that other mission groups are also reporting. We value unity in the Body of Christ, and welcome help and cooperation in every way possible. We are supported interdenominationally, and have many church affiliations. Doctrinally we are orthodox and charismatic, and work hard to present to pastors in our Bible school teaching that is simple, clear and necessary.
Although our facilities are limited and basic, and our concentration is on the needs of the poor, we welcome visitors and short-term mission help. Thousands have been coming to us each year, and many lives have been dramatically changed forever as a result. You can email me anytime at Rolland@irisglobal.org, and I and our staff will try to answer your questions as Jesus leads us. Specific questions about travel times, arrangements and needed preparations can be sent to Heidi Yost at firstname.lastname@example.org. Gordon Haggerty, a board member and close friend in Seattle who spends much time with us in Mozambique each year, can handle questions about how to ship goods to us, what is needed, container arrangements, etc. His email address is email@example.com. Be patient with us, as we are surrounded by intense demands every day. Often we are traveling or out in the bush, and communication links can be slow and intermittent. May Jesus supply us with all the administrative capability we need.