Our team’s main goal is to help facilitate a church planting movement among the Makua-Metto people. Since the majority of this people group are Muslim and less than 1% of the population would claim to be Protestant Christians, our main task after learning language and culture was to plant churches alongside Mozambicans in this area. As the network of churches has grown, our work has shifted towards the training and equipping of leaders.
As the church has matured, we continue mentoring leaders individually and in small groups to encourage and empower them. Further, in 2014 we began teaching about deacons and facilitating the process for each church to select their own deacons for specific responsibilities. From those deacons that were chosen, each church cluster then selected specific deacons to help with the coordination and collaboration of the churches in the whole province. We have worked extensively with these deacons - guiding them as they work together to make goals and visions for the church; ultimately, we hope to see these churches select elders.
In 2016 our team started a Bible School to provide more advanced training for churches in the area. It has been exciting to see how hungry they are to learn as we offer classes in Portuguese and Makua-Metto. During the first year of the program we received almost 50 students from six different denominations. Please pray for us that the school will be a catalyst for further church growth.
Our team has participated in ministry with women since our early years here, including small group Bible studies, large conferences, small retreat-style efforts for leaders, overnight seminars, and countless hours visiting in homes. Very few women speak the national language of Portuguese, and illiteracy among women is near 100%, so our ministry with women is almost entirely in Makua and often involves an oral form of study that involves a lot of repetition. Women are the main singers in this culture, and although change is slow, it is beautiful to see Makua women, surrounded by their children, singing new songs.
Since 2011, our team has been involved with ladies in a group called Urerihana; this word has two meanings: "to make one another beautiful" or "to bless one another." Martha has worked extensively with this group, teaching them how to make jewelry and sew products. Healing Hands International in Nashville, TN has partnered with these women to purchase their products in bulk, and our team also carries back their products to sell each furlough. All of the proceeds go directly back to these women to help them support their families, becoming a reliable source of income and greatly blessing their families.
Most Makua-Metto people are subsistence farmers with no access to employment, so one of the projects we lead is a sustainable agriculture program where we teach about crop placement, timing and rotation, mulching (to reduce erosion), composting, not burning fields, and planting at the right time. We’ve worked with associations of farmers who are using these principles in local, communal plots with the ultimate objective of the project being Mozambican families implementing these practices in their own personal farms.
For the past several years, our team has been working closely with a local SIL/Wycliffe Team that is currently translating the New Testament into Makua-Metto. We are involved in the revision process by giving feedback and helping to improve the drafts of the New Testament, and our team also regularly helps in distributing new publications and encouraging the use of the Makua-Metto scriptures in the church. We have benefitted greatly from the translation team’s work; as soon as we have a copy of a book of the Bible in Makua-Metto, we immediately begin teaching from it.
In 2014, our team partnered with Peace Corps to build a pedestrian bridge across the Montepuez River near the village of Bandari. During past rainy seasons, Mozambicans risked crocodiles and swift currents to get across. But now this bridge provides better access for thousands of people north of the river to the local hospital and eases transportation of crops.
Because of the low levels of literacy in this area, over the years we’ve experimented with a variety of methods to share audio files on a large scale with church members (from MP3 players to iPod shuffles to solar powered players to hand-crank radios – all with your generous help). Since cell phones are everywhere now, even in the most remote villages, our most recent project involved formatting 120 mini-SD cards with recordings of songs, scriptures, dialogues and sermons in the Makua-Metto language. The audio files also include recordings of scripture-based conversations from the Niviriyane Project, completed in partnership with The Leprosy Mission.
According to census data, illiteracy is around 70% in our province; many church members have no access to the scriptures outside of hearing it from someone else. We are in the early stages of working to help local church leaders be able to teach people in their churches how to read the Bible and other literature in their own language. Thanks to Wycliffe Bible Translators’ efforts, we have a literacy book that we are using to teach people how to read.
Because poverty remains high here in Mozambique, there are several different ways that our team participates in relief efforts. In 2015-2016, we distributed over $140,000 worth of rice (given by many of you!) because that year’s crops had done so poorly; the rice benefited people in 7 different provinces. Also, on Friday afternoons a group of between 60-100 Mozambicans with disabilities comes to our homes to ask for help; most of them are unable to earn income of any kind or cultivate a farm. We also regularly receive people who come by our homes requesting help for specific needs. Part of being Christ to these people and showing them love is helping out where we feel it is appropriate.
Children are everywhere around us, and they are precious to God! They are the future leaders of the church, and we feel a deep need to teach and train them up in God's will. We have hosted several seminars for training Mozambicans to teach and work with children; these men and women have then gone and implemented what they've learned in their own churches. An important part of reaching children is also training parents to teach their children at home; we intentionally include this emphasis as we teach and mentor others.