With the arrival at Sarnia of the tired team members and battered mission vehicles at 21:30 on Thursday April 5, one might be tempted to conclude that the latest mission trip to the Central African assemblies to be complete. The truth is, the mission continues: our hearts are buried in those fields of harvest, where our thoughts are continually turned to those Fellowships vulnerable to the merciless onslaught of the enemy who through famine, poverty, disease and corruption tries to keep these gentle folk under heel. This was a mission where, again our risen Saviour was victorious, and we were but active spectators of Him building His church. What a good work that will be when the Bride is completed: Hallelujah!
Every home contribution towards this mission; be it a popcorn prayer on the way to work to remember the team, or a potato act of faith to intercede for a specific border crossing, or a monetary contribution to the expenses, or a sweetie to the ‘goodie rat-pack’, all were sincerely appreciated. Every SMS for encouragement, every call, and every prayer to the Lord for His intervention in impossible situations was real to us and we were carried as the whole body, co-ordinated by the Master to stride to His victory. Praise God!
The thankful hearts of sisters and brothers, receiving donated literature; elders receiving much needed clothing for distribution to relieved widows and orphans, and children accepting a long-dreamed-for sweetie all testify that there is desperate need there in every situation calls for us as a complete body to continue to outpour His love.
As a team, again, we were overflowed by an unrestrained response in the form of true love, care, hospitality, and preparation from our beloved sister and brothers. Meals made of simple rice and boiled egg, maybe a bit of tomatoes and onion. A bit of boiled pumpkin leaves for breakfast, a cup of sweet boiled water to wash them down. It is all that they have; but a king’s feast to us. There were gifts carried from one fellowship to another; a melon here, or four cups of rice there all sent with love and lovingly received.
Our brothers and sisters in the three countries we visited are praying for us in RSA that the Word might prosper in our hearts as it abundantly is in theirs, extending their hands of greetings and well wishes to us all. Expressing their love to those team members who having gone there before, some even naming those of previous team’s names to be specifically reminded of the hope that Jesus offers and to hearken to His call. Is this not the Book of Acts continued?
The count of hardships is not worth the ink, for we count it but a joy—although it was tough on all, where some days hit 45°C and others became single digit rain-bogged days. The squalor of the slums in Chimoio, Lusaka and Blantyre is appalling, it always is. The details of incessant flies and mosquitoes, fuel shortages, water contamination and mud will only distract us from the real story of this mission: that the Word was truthfully preached, faith in the faltering restored, signs and wonders ensuing, men and women coming to know Christ as their personal saviour, old friendships renewed and the bond of brotherhood extended. Indeed the Church in Central Africa is alive and arising by the power of Christ and souls are snatched from the awful slipway to hell.
While fatigued bodies and battered vehicles can only be a small evidence of the real extent to which Christ was victorious on this trip, one can almost open any new testament book, especially Acts, or Heb 11, or 2 Cor 5 and reread the March 2012 events, only remixed where names and places have been changed to fit our African context.
This was the mission where the whole body, in RSA, and Central Africa were in unison in prayer, provision and effort to extend that which we have—the Name of Jesus to assist our beloved brother Elias who was in a terrible car accident. The suffering that he has endured, to forward the gospel is already know to us from previous occasions. However in this accident he had lost 20% blood through a head injury (a gash from forehead 25cm to the back of the head), dislocation of his shoulder and the fracturing of lumbar vertebra all are added to the reality of the grimy corrupt state hospital in central Mozambique.
His dire situation was real to us as a team and earnestly prayed seeking our God’s direction and assistance to help Elias here. The full extent of Jesus’ mercy and our Father’s might remain a mystery—but miracles abounded. The recovery of Elias, is miraculous, his airlift by Mercy Air another miraculous intervention, the discovery of the accident scene by another missionary—miraculous! The preservation of Rupert and vehicle on his return visit Elias in Quellemane (a 1,200km round trip)—this was miraculous.
While the list of brothers in our fellowships in Natal, Cape and Gauteng who responded and are still assisting Elias through prayer, contributions in free professional advice and other help is too long to mention and for fear of omitting even the smallest of mites. Suffice to say, that as the body of Christ was co-ordinated to this care for Elias is something that leaves even seasoned mission campaigners’ astounded. Not to mention to the confounding of the sceptical world outside the Body.
One particular event that stirs our heart is the response from the local fellowships in Gorangoza and MVonde—who despite having had late rains and a disaster of a harvest, collected bags of rice and maize to sustain Elias’s family while he is recovering in the Chimoio hospital. Please continue to pray for Elias and his family, for fortitude and patience through the long recovery period. The prognosis is that with enough rest (how can a disciple of his zeal rest?) he should have a full bill of health with-in 5–8 weeks. Then, as now, he will be a walking miracle.
The Mission Zambia team of Mike and Peter had departed for a couple of days before the Mission Moz and Malawi team. Their report is one of Christ pushing back the darkness laden boundaries, and that with each significant step hearts continue to be converted, factions resolved and brothers coming together in unity to be renewed. Mike and Peter held various men’s seminars where again, proud and puffed up hearts were deflated at the simplicity of the Gospel preached as sufficient to raid the gates of hell and bring souls to the freedom of salvation in Christ.
The teams in southern Malawi visited East Bank, Palombe and Blantyre areas. Here again the glory of God is revealed in the economic situation that we found upon arrival. The country had in the last six months shed 50% of the currency value and was in the middle of a fuel shortage—in fact by the Tuesday—Blantyre was dry of fuel and power outages imminent. Only the intervention of God who answered a flash prayer, helped us to scrape enough fuel to get to the fellowships.
By all accounts from the teams the depressed economic situation had a reverse effect on the spiritual affairs in the villages and fellowships. Men and women striving for Christ, making an unpopular stand against the disorder and drunkenness that had enveloped the rural population, soaking up every Word preached, and diligently rehearsing song items that glorify His name.
What we also found, was a fresh softness to worship, where many fellowships now have homemade guitars, self constructed drum kits and bass boxes. Now there are gentle, skilled and passionate expressions to our Saviour—a remarkable change in the traditional drum thrash and foot stomp. Night meetings continuing for 3–4 hours where worship to His glory are followed by hymns of praise and the preaching of Truth and Righteousness. Where, at Namangale Fellowship, the ‘Israel band’ composed impromptu choruses to support the Word ministered. A remarkable turnaround for the Palombe district which for long has been distracted by false teaching and ‘brethren politics’.
Now, from the sincere appreciation for the salvation won, these beloved fellowships praise and worship in love and truth. Please pray for the continued unity in Christ and also that the early sparks of revival catch onto more than the kindling sticks for the entire valley to be convicted of sin and the mercy of Salvation become evident. Please pray for souls to be added and leaders to hold fast to sound doctrine.
While the work in East Bank continues to grow—not only in the numbers of children, but more so, especially in the depth of the revelation among established believers there—much prayer is still needed though. This area is very prone to drought and is always on the imminent famine list. While it is hard to understand since one of Africa’s largest rivers flows past this area and the ground water table is only 2–15 away. Please pray for water efficient agricultural practices, wisdom in the elders to comfort those robbed of loved one’s by the scourge of Malaria. This debilitating disease is especially prevalent in the area.
The fellowships around Blantyre recently suffered much loss of property due to unseasonal rains and flooding, both personal houses and their fellowship hall was damaged. Here the sundried clay bricks and foundations became water logged and roofing material was all lost. Much of the money for these projects came from the Malawi brother’s contribution, and these will need to be regenerated—in the city, costs escalate in Zimbabwean like inflation rates. Please pray that these brothers don’t lose heart and hold onto the promise.
The great news here is that through the literature delivered every mission trip, many new hearts are reached and young and old are coming in touch with our Saviour. Please keep the Blantyre fellowships’ in prayer, not only for the rebuilding of their fellowship halls but also for moral fortitude and health—Blantyre has a staggering 50% HIV infection rate! Coupled with the Malarial infection—the very young are especially vulnerable.
The area in Central Malawi where Peter and Rupert visited and held day seminars, like Zomba have a good report, but still need to be remembered since this area is an Islam stronghold. The Lake Malawi area of Ntcheu is a story of sadness and is in need of a touch of Holy fire to pick-up where the enemy has laid waste, we believe that there are still brothers and sisters there, but they are leaderless.
If the Malawi leg of this mission was toned down, at rest and gentle; the vibrant Mozambique leg was a blast and flew into the face of opposition, who only know ‘on or off’ no half measures exist here. We entered Mozambique praising the Lord for the provision of fuel, but carefully considering the situation in our hearts for the arrangements there without Elias and Rupert.
The Lord strengthened us with brilliant accommodation arranged by Johann and Ann Celliers in Chimoio. All the arrangements went well which is sometimes a bit confusing, as one has to exchange money, fuel-up, meet interpreters and make departure and camping arrangements.
The Gorangoza district is 120km away from Chimoio city to the south and east, while the MVonde is in the highlands on the Zimbabwean border 80km away to the west. Our days here were immensely blessed as the Word was confirmed in hearts, believers questions answered, and what was especially gladdening is, two new Fellowships were welcomed into the Body. The events of Elias’ accident certainly overshadowed the thinking, but we are always astounded by their love for us, but more so, their diligence to continue to seek Godly direction and their giving of their best to support Elias.
Mention needs to be made of the Lord’s undertaking in the crash where one vehicles’ radiator was punctured and repaired in the bush. We can only praise God for His mercy here. The mission in Mozambique could have been a disaster, had He not been with us. Fortunately, there were no injuries and the minor damage easily repaired, not only for us to complete the visiting of the Gorangoza fellowships but also to return home.
Visiting Mozambique fellowships, is often described as seeing the lame rise under the strength of Jesus and leaping and jumping into the temple. Please continue to pray for the leaders in these fellowships who are striding forward, to keep their freshness and not get puffed up by pride or robbed by fear of the unknown.
These fellowships have been victorious over animism, tribal ancestor beliefs and witchcraft, that still keeps most of the population in bondage. In particular, please remember to pray for the fellowship in Mucodza, where the leader, bro. Carlito has lost two children to Malaria and associated infections in the last six months. His third child is struggling to recover from a snake bite, yet when he praises God and sings at full blast, even the clouds part, what a joy he has in being in Christ.
Brothers and sisters: it is impossible to express our team’s thanks to you for even reading this report, and keeping these believers in Central Africa in your prayers. After twice annually reading of the 7,500km trek into Central Africa and the ardors represented, it might be easy to consign the March 2012 Mission to the ‘been there done that’ folder. Please repent, if that is your attitude. In Central Africa there are souls of brothers and sisters on the verge—some the verge of bursting in to bloom and bearing much fruit, others on the verge of hopelessness and defeat; for either case we need to keep these folk in prayer.
Upon reflection, the March 2012 mission was not about us as a team enduring the distances and hardships or of just seeing God at work there—but it was about prayer answered. It is about the home front, those who sewed clothes, baked biscuits, prepped vehicles, about those who awoke to cell phone calls pleading for advice—and that generously given. It is not about the nine team members but rather those home fellowships who diligently prayed their way through the unknown depending on Christ, and Christ alone to see us through. We, as a team cannot express our gratitude to be part of a Body that responds to His love and nor should we withhold our joy with you, of being used to His service and His Glory.
Praise the Name of Jesus, Sean