News from Beira
Greetings from Beira, Mozambique
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