March 03, 2017

By Craig Stevenson


2016 proved to be a wonderful year.

Thanks to the generosity of our congregations and people within Missouri, the Mozambique Initiative provided $670,271.56 in ministry support last year. We drilled 44 wells, a record; have been more actively supporting health initiatives than ever before, and saw significant increases in interactions between sister churches here and in Mozambique. 2017 has arrived, and MI has hit the ground running. 
    
Since December 1, I’ve spent nearly a month in Mozambique on two trips. Most recently, my trip focused on ways the church is partnering with educational institutions at the primary and secondary levels. Mozambique faces challenges that our country has overcome. These challenges include: Teacher attendance on a daily basis is 45 percent countrywide; Student attendance is typically 60 percent. Only 50 percent of students complete a primary education (7th grade); Due to a large number of local languages, a majority of the children are not exposed to their national language of Portuguese until primary school.
    
Lack of permanent infrastructures mean countless students are taught under a tree, teacher/student ratios are more than 45:1, children learn on the ground and not in a desk, and students lack school supplies.
    
While it may seem hopeless, God is present in the lives of these children and with church leaders tasked with improving educational circumstances. The UMC in Mozambique uses its passion for education to partner with these schools by teaching life skills, working to empower girls while educating the men that girls are deserving of the education, among other things.
    
The connection and ownership between schools and the church is great in Mozambique. The church sees education as an avenue to evangelize and move the country forward. Spending a month this winter in Mozambique has confirmed three things: 1) Church leaders in Mozambique constantly seek ways to grow the Kingdom 2) Partnering in education is a way that Missouri can work to empower all people in Mozambique 3) The face of God can be seen in all of the school children in Mozambique. 
    
At MI, we’ll keep working together to provide hope, share the love of Christ, and encourage the Church in Mozambique in 2017. I’m prayerful for a great year.