We have reached the final straight of our time here. A lot has happened during the weeks that have passed since our arrival, and there is still more to do right up until the 17th of September. Here is a some of our recent news...
Visit to Buzi...
The district of Buzi was one of the area’s most affect by Cyclone Idai and the floods that followed. According to statistics around 154,332 people (30,867 families) were affected, with 108 deaths, 13 600 homes flooded, and 58 337 hectares of land affected. Some areas were isolated and the people needed urgent help. There was a large intervention on the part of both national and international humanitarian organizations who proceeded to evacuate people and provided the aid needed for a situation of this scale.
More than five months have now passed, and the people of the district of Buzi have returned to their homes to attempt to restart their lives with what has remained. The fields have been sown again and the houses are being rebuilt. Roadworks, that were interrupted by the cyclone, have restarted. The schools too have again recommenced, with some lessons given in tents that substitute classrooms that were destroyed. A new village has sprung up as a result of the relocation of people to a more secure place – where the people have decided to completely start all over again on new land which now has the name “Dois Mil e Dezanove” (Two Thousand and Nineteen).
Some time ago we received a request to provide Sunday school material for churches in Buzi. Now that people have returned to a more or less normal life, the churches have undertaken a survey of what they lost. Some church buildings were badly damaged and are being rebuilt bit by bit. But the need for material for Sunday Schools has been the priority for many churches in the whole area. Since March, the children’s Sunday school classes have been stopped due to the lack of material, much to the great sadness of both the teachers and children.
We therefore took the initiative to take the Sunday school activity books to Buzi ourselves. So, on Saturday the 31st of August, we left home at six in the morning, picking up Maria, Joaquim and Inácio on the way, to do the four-hour journey to the town of Buzi.
When we arrived at the church, where we were going to undertake the distribution of material, we were received by a very joyful congregation of more than 100 children and around 20 Sunday School teachers. During our time there Inácio shared a message based on the story of the tax collector Zacchaeus which was of great encouragement to the teachers. Camica then used the same story and shared it with the children. Maria spoke of the importance of the material that Project Mozambique produces, not just for the children but for adults with the material for evangelization. Joaquim, as a Sunday school teacher, had a word of encouragement for his fellow teachers, with a special emphasis on the necessity of preparation and prayer so that the work with children can continue to be fruitful. Chris presented the parable of the two men who built their houses on the sand and rock respectively. With his background in drama, Chris captivated his audience with a funny presentation which had a great impact, as much for the children as for the teachers.
We were touched by the way that the wife of the pastor at the church emphasized the importance of working with children. The fact that there are always babies being born (even during the actual cyclone babies were born) certainly means that the work with children has great importance for the future. The district of Buzi has a very young population. According to UNICEF’s most recent statistics for the district of Buzi, there are 47 000 girls and 41 750 boys under the age of 18 (about 50% of the total population) of which 16 000 girls and 14 500 boys are under the age of 5 (around 17.3% of the population).
We were overjoyed to see the enthusiasm and dedication of the teachers (some of whom have classes with around 60 children), and the joy of the children at the prospect of restarting their Sunday Schools. Our visit to the town of Buzi will always remain in our hearts.
Jesus is returning soon...
We have had a lot of people looking for leaflets and other material with an emphasis on the second coming of Jesus. The experience that people went through during the cyclone has caused the church to recognize the importance of being prepared for when Jesus returns. It is this message that they want to share with everyone. For this reason, we have recently printed a great deal of material on this subject, all of which will be distributed by some pastors to the many churches they are in contact with.
One of our objectives during this trip has been to undertake a revision of the activities that we have already established.
The Sunday School project has a very wide scope, with various churches that have been coordinated for the training of teachers and the distribution of material to other churches in their areas. Church leaders like Cassi in Mutua, and Alfredo in Lamego, have had a key role in reaching vast areas. Buzi is undergoing a revival with the churches wanting to reach more children. We have received a request from a town called Marromeu where a Sunday school teacher called Mateus (who is one of the many fruits from Domingos’ work) now wants to reorganise the structure of the Sunday School work in the whole district of Marromeu. So, he has asked us to send more material. And in Beira we have seen a renewed interest in the work with children.
The work in the schools, with the teaching of Christian morals, has had a good impact in the lives of children. This year we introduced a new book which has been well received, and some pastors want to use this to teach moral principles to the children in their churches. Our plan is to introduce a new programme for the next academic year which starts in February/March 2020.
During our time here, Chris and Inácio have done a survey of the MP3s and the Bible studies. They have also planned trips for Inácio to replace further material that was destroyed in the cyclone, as well as introducing the MP3 programme into new areas.
Work in the office...
With all these activities, our printing machine hasn’t had much rest! With renewed interest for written material, we have had to make alterations and increase the shelves in our office to accommodate all that we are printing. Chris has prepared a new leaflet which is already going out in large numbers, as well as other leaflets we already have.
Rebuilding the houses...
This has been a long-term work. After the urgent reconstruction phase: of walls, roofs, doors, and windows, we are approaching the finishing phase of the houses we have been working on until now. In some cases, we have been confronted with problems that weren’t in the original quotes, such as electrical installations that were damaged by the heavy rains and that need to be urgently repaired. There are still more houses that need attention, especially in the rural areas.
A grand finale...
During these past two months, Chris has preached nearly every Sunday, bringing encouragement to the churches here. We have seen how the Lord has strengthened His Church. Despite all the challenges the many people and their churches have faced, they continue to advance, renewed and strengthened in their faith and hope in the “Lord Jesus who looks after our lives” – quoting a song that the children in Buzi sing.
We are very grateful for all your prayers and for all the support we have received, conscious that, together with you, we all are part of this great work that the Lord is doing in Mozambique.
Together in the work of the Master,
Chris & M. do Carmo
Cámica is speaking at the church in Buzi with some of the children who use our material, sitting to the side. Beside her is a man called Sr. Pereira who helps with the Sunday schools in Buzi
Children who are singing.
Sr. Pereira shows us the very high level which the river Buzi reached. The river itself can be seen in photo number 4.
Update from Cámica
Dear Friends and Supporters
Greengs from Beira, Mozambique
This past week has been a busy one where I’ve understood even more the reality many people are sll living in. I see how important it is for people here to share what they’ve have gone through with others. Only now have many people in Beira begun to see videos of the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai. Many hadn’t even realised that such a large area was affected – without television, radio, or any other form of communicaon, while there was no electricity, it wasn’t possible for them to have all the information that we, from the outside, had. There is a lot of solidarity with the people of northern Mozambique who were affected by Cyclone Kenneth. And a great desire to start again.
I have visited four of our team members’ houses. Visiting the neighbourhoods where they live, I can see people are trying to resume their lives in a more or less normal way. The children play whilst their mothers look a7er their families. Many houses have been le7 without roofs. Others have been completely destroyed. People collect rubble that might sll be useful for rebuilding. Some people have been able to obtain tarpaulin or plastic to use as covers. Other people have managed to take advantage of zinc roof sheets which, although damaged, are be9er than sleeping in the open. Many trees were uprooted and they now serve as logs, or even wood to rebuild houses. The trees that weren’t uprooted, a7er being pruned, are already being covered with green leaves once more.
Now we have plans in place for the repairs that need to be done on our team members’ houses, and so we are able to start the building works.
At the end of last week, I travelled with Maria and Joaquim to Lamego. During the two hour journey, I could see a lot of how people outside the city of Beira have suffered. Part of the main road has been completely destroyed, and seeing it close up was even more impressive – to imagine the force of the water needed to destroy it!
In Lamego, Alfredo, who we have worked with for more than twenty years, has been a driving force in the development of the children’s work in the area. He has motivated many churches to create Sunday Schools and to train the Sunday School teachers to work with children. Nineteen churches with around twenty-five teachers took part in the seminar we held there. Maria taught our practical course for Sunday School teachers directly in the Sena language. Following this, I spoke with Maria translating. During this session I focussed on the fact that the Church is made up of the believers, it is not the building. Even if the building has fallen, the Church of the Lord remains. I also spoke on the responsibility we have as a church, and the impact that we should have in our communities, both in the way we live and in taking the Gospel to the lost.
We had a break where we gave juice and biscuits to a large group of children that had gathered there. We also distributed teaching manuals and more than 600 activity books. A7er lunch, which Alfredo had organised, we had a second session. This me Joaquim translated into Sena. I presented one of the Sunday School lessons where God chose David to be King of Israel. All this helps the children, and their communities, as they recover from the shock
of what they went through following Cyclone Idai.
Once again I could see in those believers, many of them sll young, the desire to take the Word of God to those who sll don’t know Him.
Please continue to pray for Mozambique. Pray that the people of God here can rebuild their lives, firm in the Rock that is Jesus.
Together in the work of the Lord,
Maria with Sunday school teachers
Joaquim, Cámica, Afredo, and Maria in Lamego.
Distributing activity books for the Sunday schools
Handing out food and drinks.
Handing out food and drinks.
After meeting for church teaching.
Cámiaca with Joaquim who was transla#ng Cámica into the Sena language.
The sowing project that Alfredo has set up in his area for local women.
Samples of food that have been supplied to support our team and their families. We have also been able to help a small number of others who we work with.
Send Message of Hope
More than a month has passed since Cyclone Idai struck central Mozambique. Whilst news from Mozambique has died down in the media, communications have been restored with some of the affected area and this has allowed us to receive news directly from our team. Maria da Graça has been our spokeswoman and is faithfully updating us with the reality being lived by many affected by the storm, particularly in the city of Beira. She also shared her own and her family’s experience of the night the storm made landfall in Beira:
“That night – it was terrible. The wind was so strong that when it blew down the wall and took away the roof of the house, we thought that we would also be carried away by it. Then came the torrential rain and we were afraid of being carried away by the floods. I honestly thought that it was my time to go to glory! But the Lord closed the door, because there is still much work to do!”
One thing we have found in the wake of the destruction of the Cyclone is the profound impact this has had on church leaders. They have seen the destruction of their homes, the homes of their fellow believers, and their churches. These churches have been built from the fruit of many years of sacrifice and hard work in order to have a place of worship. The lack of news about their congregations in rural areas also led to discouragement. How do they support their congregation in the wake of such devastation, especially as people ask why God would let something like this happened? And how do we support them? Maria, along with the rest of the team, has a suggestion: “The Pastors need to be encouraged so that they can encourage their congregations! And we have to bring them words of hope and faith.”
It is not just rebuilding people’s houses that is important. Rebuilding people’s lives is just as important, and the Word of God can have a great effect on this. Our church family in Mozambique, the team of Project Mozambique – Plus, are very grateful because the Lord protected them. They are grateful that our office did not suffer any damage and now, with the restoration of electricity, they have begun printing material again to meet the great need of the local churches.
They are also grateful that people in Portugal and the UK have not forgotten them, providing the funds to attend to their most urgent practical needs, such as the purification of water, the provision of medicines, food, the purchase of mosquito nets, and then for the reconstruction of their houses.
But there is something more that Christians in other countries can do, and that is to write messages of encouragement for people in Mozambique. This is the request we would like to make. We ask that if anyone has a Bible verse of encouragement, or a message, to send this to our email address:
Then we can take the messages and make them into leaflets to be distributed. We have the equipment to do this and a team of enthusiastic people who, despite suffering greatly themselves, want to make an impact on the lives of those around them.
Cámica has this to say: “I have a trip scheduled for April 24th. I’m staying in Beira until June 2nd, and my colleague from Project Mozambique – Plus are already filling up my diary. In addition to helping them rebuild their homes and seeing where we can support other pastors, with whom we have a strong connection, we must spread the message of hope, trust and faith in the God who never abandons us. This is their desire, and it is certainly mine as well.”
With grateful thanks for your support and prayers,
Our prayers are with the people of the centre of Mozambique, and the neighboring countries of Zimbabwe e Malawi, who are still suffering from the effects of Cyclone Idai. We pray as they rebuild their lives, and we also pray that the Lord protects them from sicknesses that arise in situations such as these, such as cholera and malaria.
We will be presenting more prayer points shortly in regards to the current difficulties…
News from the Mission Centre in Portugal - And beyond
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