Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Unspeakable Bible JOY!

VIDEO CLIP:  Handing out boxes of Bibles to Believers and Leaders in the church.  The service was a festive one as you can imagine. 

 OH the JOY of having your own Bible!  It's something we as Westerners hardly comprehend in the 21st century. It is a given for any western family to own not just one Bible .... but several.  The truth of the matter is .... we don't value the Word of God as in the past.  So many of my friends admits that .... "well ... the last thing I actually read as I go to bed .... is the NEWS APP on my ipad or iphone."  

Walking through village after village ... the same cry awaits me behind every tree.  A family ... a church .... a community crying for the privileged of owning a Bible.  I know of pastors after studying at a seminary just to return without a Bible as the seminary has to use the Bible for other students the following year.  That meant a lot of memorization but that still meant pastors and church members are robbed of God's Word.

You can only truly understand the joy of seeing someone receiving a Bible for the first time.  It is awesome and very humbling.  I have been called many names trying to get Bibles to men and women in Africa and most say that is simply impractical to help everyone with a Bible.  The truth is:  We don't need to help everyone!  That is never the mandate.  It is rather:  DO TO ONE THAT YOU WISH YOU COULD DO FOR EVERYONE.  Then it matters!  Then we make a difference.

SUPER SUPER SUPER thank you's to everyone who contributed and helped us to share the WORD of GOD to those hungry leaders and communities who have been praying for soooo long.  It left a legacy in the hearts of so many men, women and children.

Here is a few moments in color: 

Pastors getting ready to receive their very special gift from the most amazing donors in the world!
After receiving their own Bibles ..... reading and studying was first priority.
During a special Bible service in Mozambique we are praying for the safe transport and distribution of Bibles with the Church leaders and pastors.
Happy leaders .....!
JOY AND BRUTAL THANKFULNESS ... with Mathew Hurekure!
The Children too were blessed .... receiving their own Children Bible with Bible stories.
African Happiness!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

When music and ministry connects in Africa!

I'm in central Mozambique .... it's hot outside ... as usual this time of the year.  The Church of God has invited us to be part of their annual conference .... and it was pure African greatness.  What still amazes me after so many years on the field is the total authenticity, gladness and openness of the African church. I have experienced the presence of God over and over again in these meetings when men, woman and children come in total dependence and open their hearts to a loving and caring God.

One of the many great secrets of the African church is the gracefulness and sacrifices people make here in the bush.  Pastors and members serving the church will think nothing of it as they literally carry out all their furniture into the church just to make 'church' happen on any given day.

What is interesting about the African church is that according to the World Book Encyclopedia it is estimated that in 2002 Christians formed 40 % of the continent's populations, with Muslims forming 45 %.  Africa only had 9 million Christians in 1900, but by the year 2000, there were an estimated 380 million Christians.  According to a 2006 Pew Forum on Religion, 147 million Christians were "renewalists" (Pentecostals and Charismatics).  Much of the recent Christian growth in Africa is now due to African evangelism rather than European or Northern-American missionaries.

With all of this in mind .... I have seen great men and woman of God serving the church ..... and exactly why our heart is to train leaders, plant local African sustainable churches and serve Africa through them.  Please pray:
  • For the more than 200 million Christians in Africa who do NOT have a Bible;
  • Who urgently need training;
  • The other 380 million who has not heard that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the World;
  • and the influence of Islam on church growth.
Saying all of that .... every Sunday the church all over Africa gathers .... here are just a few memories:

Worship service ......!

This always amazes me .... when elderly gentlemen and pastors are never too old to learn ......!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The power of an interpreter!

What makes a person a successful interpreter?  Who is a successful interpreter?  What qualities must they have?  Is it enough to just speak two (or more) languages fluently?  To answer these questions is not very difficult .... that is if you have worked with a few interpreters in your lifetime.  In fact I have worked with 3 at the same time to get the Message across in 2 or 3 languages.  I have worked with a few brilliant interpreters in my life too .... Mathew Hurekure, Prosper Fernando, Joao Benjamim ..... and well a few others who didn't really work out at all and left me red in the face.

And without a doubt .... an interpreter makes you or breaks you.  Literally!  And when sharing theology or other important information these men and woman are crucial in getting the Message across.  They become more important than you at that moment. They are actually the keynote speaker.  I want to honor these men and woman today .... every single one of them the last 18 years who made it possible for the audience to receive the Message in their mother tongue ...... correctly.  It must be the most difficult job ever if you consider:
  1.   There is very little time to think about vocabulary;
  2.   You have to catch the joke before anyone else .... and make others l           too and have a perfect impersonation of the voice of the speaker;
  3.  Bring over profound truths within ..... less than 2 seconds .....;
  4.  Beware if you have an over exited speaker ....... you have to think double  the speed;
  5.   If it is a foreigner ..... more grace is needed due to "strange pronunciations!"
  6.  And even worse than the previous point ... is the speaker who runs aroun   while talking .......
  7.  Praise the Lord if you find a speaker that is short and powerful .... grace if he is long and powerful;
  8.  You have to be gifted ....
  9.  You have to be gifted ....
  10.  You have to be gifted ....

Here is a few examples on how a good interpreter works:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Winning the Mosque over .... with love!

The pastor came running over as I pulled into a town church.  "Francisco you must sit down .... I have news!"  I still tried to stretch my hand out to him to greet the African way.  Hand-thumb-hand greeting .... the African way.  There is a lot in a handshake when you are in rural Africa.  Affection and touch goes a long way here.  But today there is no time it seems.  My mind wonders on what could be so huge that I can't greet.  

A few pastors join as they run to get a chair and make me comfortable under the big old mango tree.  There is excitement all around .... its tangible.  The men joining me under the tree are dressed neatly.  They are all busy undergoing training in Church planting through the Harvesters Church Planting model.  The model redefines on how we look at church and how we plant sustainable churches the Acts way where structure and buildings become less important and caring and love rather becomes the foundation.  Qualified leaders were challenged to geographically assess the need for churches in their villages and communities .... but not plant any churches more than a day by foot or bicycle.  After training it was time to put these skills into action.

The pastor that anxiously asked me to sit down .... hastily quiet down everyone with a wave of his hand.  "Francisco ... this is what happened.  We have a mosque in our village planted some months ago.  I spoke to the builders and they said their Imam is starting a project here.  I have planted 11 churches as Harvesters taught us.  I have chosen strong leaders in all 11 churches and I have trained them well.  When the Imam arrived to start his program he was astonished to find there are no villagers left to be descipled as they have been harvested into our newly planted churches all around the mosque."  I was astonished to say the least as we challenge our hub leaders to plant only 10 churches where after these 10 churches plant 3 of their own.  "The Imam asked us our model and how we did it but we told him the Holy Spirit was guiding us where to plant churches and that we serve the head of the church, Jesus Christ." He chuckles ........ "He didn't understand everything we said but we invited him to attend one of our churches under the trees."  He stares ..... before he answers.  "We have not seen him yet ...."

Some other stories of pastors planting churches deep in areas where previously it was impossible to plant churches started surfacing.  I had to stop them as we were ready to continue training these amazing men.  

30 Men and women gathered from central Mozambique to continue their training.  In the process they have planted in the last 5 months more than 172 churches with 26 hubs (which will eventually amount to 1040 churches).  The aim is to plant 200 000 churches throughout  Africa by 2020.  Malawi alone planted 18 000 churches in the last few years.  I just arrived back from Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Malawi ... and the stories are just amazing on what God is doing through amazing men.  

Here is a few photos so long on the training in Mozambique.

Bishop Lazaro from the Church of God gathered his pastors from all over Mozambique for the training.
Hard studies as pastors started training on what true discipleship is and how to activate that teaching in a rural setting.
Serious concentration!
With a lot of questions and group discussions a lot was learnt by us and the students.
Women Church planters was not rare during our time of teaching.  Here a lady pastor teaches on her strategy in the city.

A time of re-dedication for the big task ahead.
We introduced the "Firewall project" in Mozambique and Bishop Lazero from Maputo shares the vision as he sees it to his leadership.

And throughout the training ... it was election time too!  Found this boy advertising a political party.
All the above students finished phase A training and were licensed by Harvesters to teach their "in-training pastors" who planted new churches.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I'm an early morning - traveling man!

"I'm an early morning traveling man", I say to the frowning look of a Zimbabwean police official after  - I stopped counting - police blockade. We are usually on the road by 04:00 AM - fresh air, rising sun ..... feeling good until an early roadblock and flashing lights brings the early day to a standstill.  I had a moment of hesitation as I wondered how I would answer the non-smiling officer.  I could pick any of the following -

  • I am on my way to Mozambique to train pastors on how to plant a church in 3 days - no blocks or bricks or expensive roofing;
  • I am training pastors who knows nothing about 'church';
  • We are transforming mosque's;
  • We are building a firewall ..... in difficult areas;
  • We are on a MISSION.
The police official was content with my answer that I actually just build bridges in communities.  The back of my Nissan (now re-baptized as officially "Biebab") was filled with Bibles and training materials but he seemed to not notice the precious cargo.  As we have done for the last 18 years we continue east to Mozambique through some unique landscape .....

Huge Baobab trees in the southern Matabelaland of Zimbabwe.
IF you have traveled to the east in Zimbabwe you will find the Birchendough Bridge .... and crossing it would have probably cost you and arm and a leg together with toll fees, road tax, carbon tax, car insurance tax ... and yes bridge tax!
Scenes like these will greet you all over Zimbabwe ... another busy normal day at an African household.  You will find it scattered along the roadside as you stop to stretch your legs.
And yes .... trying to get to the border will acquire patience.
Our first stop is at a local village where some church planters are waiting anxiously for an early Christmas gift.  After visiting Cape Town and raising funds for various groups where very little or no Bibles are available.

It's all worth it when we drop Bibles - in this case Shona and Portuguese - in a village in Mozambique.
Training material being loaded for church planters in central Mozambique.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Joining a FLASH MOB! Part 4

Our Co-workers not only do amazing things with us through their support, care and prayers, but they INSPIRE those around them to act as well.  I was amazed during my last trip to attend some mission conferences in Cape Town to see this in action.

I was enjoying a very hospitable evening with friends when I saw from the corner of my eye how a young girl (about 12) was on the edge of her seat the whole evening.  She looked at me continuously throughout the evening .... and I sense that she really wanted to tell me something.  She had a bright sparkle in her eye as she could take it no longer .... ran from the table and handed me two handfuls of her saving money.  "This has to go for Children Bibles .... please" she nearly begged.  I immediately acknowledged.  She reminded me of a "flash mob".  You might ask what on earth a flash mob is!  A flash mob is a group of people who care about one particular cause and show it in a way that grabs someones attention. 

During a flash mob, you witness commitment, hard work, passion, fun, creativity, and the celebration of something wonderful.  And often times, if you're not part of it, you want to be!

This little girl inspired me immediately to do something worthwhile!  And that is what I love about every single individual spread all over the world - those who do random acts of goodness ..... just because they are in love with Jesus.  So this is a thank you to all our flash mobs out there who make it possible for us to continually run with the great command that Jesus gave us all!  You are the true heroes in bringing God's Kingdom .... on earth!  Your special actions inspire myself and others to take notice and hopefully, take action as well.


Meeting 'old' friends after 20 years!

TRAVELING BACK TO MOZAMBIQUE AT THE SPEED OF SOUND!  Be sure not to miss our next article and the great miracles God did in Mozambique: 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

All in a day's work: Missions - Part 3

On our way to a mission conference at church .... one lovely Sunday morning ... this is what we got!  Needless to say anything else:

A Mission breakfast at Bellville AFM church and meeting up with friends I have known my entire life!
Pastors Gerrie and Monica - garden dining for the day!  Monica is also Friend of God family church's Missional Co-ordinator.
In the garden of Eden!

After finding a photographer who could at last get us all in ..... more refreshments.
Even the donkeys here love the place .... relaxing as we did.