By John Heskett
The Mozambique Initiative advanced another step in November. A Mission Team from Manchester United Methodist Church led by Rev. Beth Elders, Director of Missions and Outreach participated in the dedication of a new primary school in Mabumbuza. Other team members from Manchester UMC included Rene’ Feldkamp and John Heskett. The team was facilitated by Sarah Bollinger, Associate Director of the Mozambique Initiative for the Missouri Conference of the Methodist Denomination, and Ezequiel Nhantumbo and Naftal Oliverra Massela Naftal with the Mozambican Conference.
Manchester UMC has been in relationship with the UMC church in Mabumbza for over 10 years. The membership has supported the church in Mabumbuza through prayers and by way of a Parsonage for the pastor, partial support for the pastor’s salary, a well that provides fresh water; and, now, a two room primary school to provide facilities for up to 150 children in the area to attend school. Before the Mabumbuza school, children in the village and surrounding area had to walk up to 15 kilometers (that’s almost 10 miles) to attend school.
The school is a partnership between Mabumbuza, the Methodist Church of Mozambique and the provincial/federal education department of Mozambique. The government agreed to provide two teachers for the school and agreed to provide the ongoing operational costs of running the school if the school building was provided by outside funding. The Mozambique Initiative engaged in discussions with Bishop Nhanala, education officials for the Provincial Educational Officials of the Massinga Province, and the pastor and other leaders from the Mabumbuza area to identify the needs and obtain commitments necessary to move forward with a $28,000 commitment from Manchester UMC for the construction of the two room school.
In addition to education facilities, the construction of the school contributed to the local economy. Funding from Manchester UMC purchased local design services, materials, and labor for the construction of the school and the necessary furniture for the teachers and the students.
The broader purpose of the mission trip was to engage in conversations with Bishop Nhanala and her cabinet, and Mozambique education and health officials to investigate the need for additional education and health care opportunities throughout the country. The conversations with Bishop Nhanala and her staff provided an enthusiastic affirmation of both the need and the willingness to expand the partnership. Equally supportive were the Provincial Education Officials of Massinga. Senior education officials identified 119 villages in which there were no school facilities, or inadequate facilities, and offered these villages as prime locations for further partnerships with churches in Missouri for the construction of school facilities. Senior staff with the Mozambique Initiative are currently identifying which of those communities have Methodist Churches that have prioritized education as a critical need for their village. When completed, these needs will be communicated to churches in the Missouri Conference to facilitate coordination of identified needs and available resources.
The Mozambique Initiative is a dynamic partnership between the Missouri Conference and the Mozambique Conference. The relationships it has engendered have proven to be strong and committed to serving as Christ’s hands and feet in this important country. The partnership continues to grow and offers other churches in Missouri the opportunity to be of service to our brothers and sisters in Christ. If your church has an interest in this opportunity, please contact: Sarah E. Bollinger at 314-623-0401 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.