For the glory of God, we are one!
God always prepared a mission to His people through covenant, and Mozambique and Missouri is true model of this kind of relationship. Partners making friends in Christ for a purpose and more importantly to pray to one another and make the church grow through many ways of support. We see this happen in both directions!
There are two branches of this big tree that help connect these conferences that are thousands of miles apart: Carol Kreamer and Ezequiel Nhantumbo (Ezy). There is no doubt the demand on work needed to be accomplished, the extra efforts, and continuous presentations including church visits to make these linkages be tight and strengthened. One could question how this is done with just an insignificant number of people and limited time and not forgetting time differences and family matters, and most of all, the differences in cultures, environmental factors and road conditions and many risks including health. God is good indeed, and help us plan to win all the barriers that could otherwise hinder our work.
Once again as part of my working routine, I drove under the challenges above. This time to Inhambane West district and Morrumbene North. Roads that have not benefited any renovations for years; congregations that are hungry because of draught due to absence of rains and hence no harvests in their farms- congregations that solely depend on agriculture for their sustenance and support to pastor’s salaries and church activities; churcahes whose communities are confronted to compete with wildlife for resources and also endangered by these species- elephants, poisonous snakes, and crocodiles in Mucocane that destroy crops and kill people; lack of means of transportation; still many with no decent parsonages and improved chapels; and diseases that claim death of infants and elderly people, and mostly because of absence of clinics and medication. All these problems do not hinder the ongoing church activities. There is joy everywhere for the work of God, as if there aren’t problems at all.
In every church visited, members were there as always hospitable, welcoming guests and making me feel part of their community. Members of congregations that usually have devoted most of their time during the week to agricultural practices, but had to interrupt to welcome the Representative. They demonstrated true love to the Initiative for sure.
It is a huge district with churches that always exercise evangelization campaigns as means to acquire more membership and because of that new churches emerge- such as example of Bispo Almeida Penicela UMC born out of Malonguela UMC. I could see life and ministry through internal covenant relationship between churches of Cambane, Mauaela, Mafuiane, Almeida Penicela, Malonguela, Marange, Marange, Matsimbe, Mucocane, Pembe and Quengue-Guija. Pastors of these churches convened at Cambane UMC along with some members of this church for a partnership workshop. Participants stressed out the need to practice good stewardship, prayer to one another, project development, evangelization, church leadership and financial transparence and accountability, and recognize the need to share resources and recognize that we are one in the body of Christ. My visit coincided with this meeting and I took the opportunity to make a presentation about the Initiative. There were additional prayers, songs of praise and joy and dancing around the fire in the previous night till following morning.
Joy, joy, joy was witnessed in Morrumbene North when I met the child with physical disabilities, daughter of the one who served as Pastor at Chiruala in Vilanculos district. Ana Jordão is how she is called and her husband Fenias Julião now resides in Panga area and had to request sabbatical leave because of the sickness of their child Celeste Fenias. Little Celeste, 9 years old, was born with this physical disability. She can neither feed herself, nor walk and talk. I had shared this sad story to their covenant partners in Missouri and they responded with provision of funds for the purchase of a wheelchair. Three pastors witnessed the presentation of this gift: Rev Quiteria Muhota, DS Arlando Vilanculos and Pastor Rodolfo Carlos Valoi. They prayed for the child, for the family and for the covenant partners who through God’s love and power provided partial healing for the child. She will need more health assistance and the family can not provide due to lack of funds. The mother shed tears of happiness, because at least the child will be able to run on the wheelchair. She thanked all those who gathered these funds to help Celeste. You will not imagine how many hearts were touched in Mozambique. In previous occasions we had same sign of healing to another young man in N’kadine UMC, supported by the Manchester UMC in Missouri. God’s blessings through signs of faith, love, hope and compassion as we partner together.
I then visited the children at the Orphanage in Cambine. I was glad to realize their good health. The women who care for then had just arrived from their farm with corn and were removing husks to boil to feed the children. I was welcomed by the director Amelia Titos and some children and I delivered the gift of school supplies that came from a Missouri partner. They were thankful and prayed for this church and blessings for the gift of life.
Driving back south, I am always asked to pass through churches, especially those located along the main road to take and deliver covenant letters and I take this as a chance to once again explain congregations about the Initiative. I met up with the DS of Inhambane South and pastor of Guilundo, Revs Vasconcelhos Zitha and Felisberto Banze, on issues related to our covenant ministry.
Halleluia by arriving back home late in the night, the children and my wife Celia had waited for a week to see me join the family. The little ones, as usual with funny questions, instead of welcoming me: “Dad, when are you leaving us again”!
Ezequiel Marcos Nhantumbo