Building a Chapel from Jesus Christ's Foundation - Bispo Escrivao Zunguze UMC Chapel Dedication

The sun rose and emitted its first rays very early on Sunday 28th November. Around 7.00 am people were already burning and immediately it showed that it would be an extremely hot day. Hundreds of people started showing up at the Bispo Escrivão Zunguze United Methodist Church (BEZ), a church located at about 50minutes from the Maputo city center. God had once again revealed its miracles- from tree cover chapel, through a semi-permanent chapel and to what today is a wonderful concrete infrastructure- a magnificent house of the Lord, green and yellow, that rose from its foundation, making a call to whoever hears or passes through the area, and making a wish: to become a church member!.


Tears came out from Rev. Jeff Brinkman’s (Woods Chapel UMC, Lee’s Summit, MO - WCC) face as soon as he and the team came out from the airport baggage claim towards the waiting room- a crowd from the Bispo Escrivão Zunguze UMC was there singing songs of praise and short welcoming songs: “wuyani wapfumba vahina, hamilossa; Jesu I number one” (welcome to our guests we are greeting you; Jesus is the number one). “Ezy, are all these people coming to welcome us?- Jeff asked overwhelmed, hugging me so strongly while crying of joy, and the Rev. Adelina Chilundo responded that this was just a sample and there would still be more to see in the following day. Heavy rains fell while Jeff, Charles Fleenor and Tim Cannon were being accommodated in the new MI Toyota and in other BEZ church members vehicles, heading to the guest house. Jeff had brought long needed rains! The congregation continued with prayers and songs until it was realized the team needed to rest.


The new MI Toyota had its inaugural long trip with the WCC team up northern Mozambique to the church missions in Chicuque and Cambine. The team was impressed with the developments, challenges, plans and dreams of the United Methodist Chicuque and Cambine Missions - the hospital, the center of hope, the orphanage, the school of theology, and the vocational school. The team visited the retired Bishop João Machado who expressed joy over the matured ministry relationships, and encouraged partners in Missouri to reinforce mutual covenant ties - as we are one in the same body of Christ!                                                               


What more we could be said about this building? “Come to the House of the Lord; hear the word of God in peace and spirit, for Christ, in Christ and to Christ!”- this was the call from the hearts of BEZ congregation to the entire people that met for the event.


The worship service started with a procession from outside church premises towards the main entrance for the chapel. Clergy and lay people from districts around Maputo area convened at same place and shared the joy to open the chapel.


Baptized in the name of our beloved Bishop Escrivão A Zunguze (the first African UMC Bishop), the church has about 680 members living within 6 local churches and 14 class meetings. The rapid growth of the former local church of Malhazine UMC to an Evangelization Extension and to the category of Charge in the year 2000 was due to intensive work in seeking new converts and the commitment in spreading the word of God. The history tells that worship services were held under tree cover in the beginning and then they built a semi-permanent structure which was small to the high growth of our membership- most of which did not get the gist of messages delivered in the worship services as they remained outside the chapel.


The morning meeting in the meeting hall witnessed the realization of the first administrative board gathering of the two churches where the builder Raul Bombate made a data show presentation on chapel construction. A variety of gospel and traditional music were presented on the busy and hot Saturday afternoon, with groups from BEZ, districts of Maputo and from the neighborhood. 


Inspired in Zachariah 6:12 they began to dream high. On October 04, 2008, the Peace Day was celebrated, dedicating a permanent parsonage built through local contributions and from covenant partners’ support. Bishop Joaquina Nhanala cut the ribbon and opened the doors of the parsonage where the Pastor lives in comfort.  On October 04, 2008, Bishop Nhanala laid the first concrete block for the chapel construction. “Would this be another unfinished chapel?” many people asked.


There was some doubt if Bishop Zunguze UMC would complete the project. Everyone responded the call “Atxiya Txinakhukha!!!” – (We will build it); announced every Sunday worship as people collected contributions for construction. There was a massive physical member’s participation in the construction activities. From the beginning and with high level of organization and faith it was believed that all would be possible.


BEZ felt the pride to say that its members and covenant partners went beyond the doubt and today here is, the biggest chapel with special building characteristics in Maputo North District, and the biggest chapel built in time record in the more than 100 years of history of the United Methodist Church in Mozambique (April 2009-November 2010). Joy to the Bishop Escrivão Zunguze UMC!


The chapel comprises of a worshiping area with a capacity to hold 800 seated people and a stairway to the upper sitting space for children, a very beautiful altar and a magnificent meeting room with restroom, the Pastor’s office with a private restroom and changing room. With the construction progress, the chapel turned into an evangelization instrument and through this it is now possible to recover lost souls, bringing new converts most of which came from other denominations. A long list of people for weddings, baptisms and other special celebrations is now available.


The message referred to the future challenges and opportunities in evangelization, in project development, and in furnishing the chapel, and congratulated the Woods Chapel UMC for donating financial resources and praying for what today is an icon for Maputo North district and for sharing ministry activities, exchange of letters, prayers, an important means that united the two conferences and to God the provider of life, and savior. Furthermore, it was guaranteed that there would still be more to celebrate in near future. Christian education in local churches through various church groups, developing leadership seminars and Bible studies, retreats at all levels are the tasks for the future.


Bishop Nhanala opened the encrypted stone with songs of praise: “BEZ chapel, dedicated by Bishop Joaquina Nhanala, through WCC funding…” and then she cut the ribbon, opening the doors, the hearts and minds of hundreds of Christians that mingled for the dedication: “I declare the doors opened and ready to receive all those who thirst for the word of God”- commanded Bishop Nhanala, while in joyful songs the congregation processed inwards. The Bishop and her delegation visited the entire facility and were thrilled on what she had seen.


The dream had now become a reality with the dedication of the chapel! “Yes, we can and we will continue erecting more buildings and will continue serve the Lord and the community”- said Rev. Adelina Chilundo, encouraging members to actively be involved in project design and management. “The dream is to become a model parish in as far as sustainability through project development. The legacy is being transmitted to children who usually meet on Sundays and are fed with moral and Christian education. They are the seed for the future of our church”- it was said in the church message.


Both BEZ and WCC exchanged wonderful gifts that added the meaning of being one in His ministry. Rev. Jeff Brinkman expressed deep appreciation for the love and hope from the people of BEZ and presented a parament of the dove flying in peace inside the new chapel roof for searching for food, as true representation of God’s will to nurturing people with His word. 


Bishop Joaquina Nhanala preached and provided an overview on a number of church meetings at the Episcopal level, emphasizing on the transformation process in the Missouri-Mozambique covenant relationship towards a self-sustainable church. “We are ready for the challenges and pray that God will continue guiding us for a sustainable spiritual church”- Bishop said and quickly read the scriptures from the book of Cor 1: 9-13 and 16-18  “…You are the house He is building…we are in a process of being molded as Christians, if one falls, we need to help him/her out; we are in a process of transformation and towards perfection; There is nobody else who can place another foundation than the existing Jesus Christ’s foundation. The outer wall and roof come after the foundation. On this foundation each one of us is free to build a house using gold, or iron or silver or local material. This chapel represents the true house of the Lord because it is from Jesus Christ’s foundation, and slowly we walk together for success”. She finally thanked the people of the Bispo Escrivão Zunguze and the Woods Chapel Church for uniting hearts and resources to build the house of the Lord, and praying to each other, making Disciples of Christ and strengthening this covenant relationship. Go out in peace and spread the good news!” Bishop Nhanala shared blessings with the congregation as all gathered in the shade for fellowship around the table and feasting from the beautiful and tasty chapel - like cake that was made by God’s hands.                                                                                                       


Maputo, November 28, 2010

Prepared by:

Ezequiel Marcos Nhantumbo- The Mozambique Initiative Representative

Chapel Building Projects