Mozambique is a former Portuguese colony located in the Southeast of Africa along the Indian Ocean. After a short war for independence in 1964, Mozambique was left with a very strong infrastructure and an abundance of natural resources. As a result, the country was poised to be one of the greatest nations in Africa. They made the mistake of adopting a communist government, a decision which was violently opposed by the surrounding countries and led to the country being ravished by 18 years of devastating civil war. During the war, some of the people who were most targeted and persecuted were the educated. Teachers and doctors were gunned down on sight. As the smoke cleared and they tried to regain their footing, Mozambicans found they knew very little about how to run a country, an economy, or even a company. As a result, many business people from all over the world flooded in to take advantage of the weak market, set up shop, and began siphoning the resources of this already impoverished nation into their own economies.
The religious history of Mozambique is very varied. From time immemorial the majority of the people have believed in witchcraft and ancestor worship, and this undercurrent still runs very deep in the culture to this day. Muslim traders brought Islam to the area as early as the 700s AD, and the Portuguese colonists established the Roman Catholic church when they took over in the 1500s. A few Protestant missionaries were able to come in the following centuries, but all religions faced some persecution under Communist rule from the 1970s to the 1990s. Today all these religions are still present, with Catholicism and Islam having the strongest followings. The Protestant church is steadily growing, but unfortunately so are many syncretistic cults that mix Christianity and witchcraft. No matter what their background, new believers desperately need strong guidance and discipleship to understand how to follow Christ, and unfortunately this discipleship has not been the focus of many mission efforts. The result is many churches and converts with shallow faith and untransformed lives--still following traditional witchcraft and living in habitual sin and demonic bondage even while consistently attending church on Sundays.
The people of Mozambique are very warm, friendly, and hospitable. They may not be wealthy, but they are generous. They spend hours sitting outside their homes, chatting with the neighbors, listening to music, and watching the seasons change. Life is simple, relationships are important, and change comes slowly. There is usually a much greater focus on the present than the future, which can make progress and development difficult at times. Many are willing to work hard, but struggle to put that effort toward long-term improvement. Some are happy with the way things are, but others are discontent and long to see change but don’t know how to achieve it. We believe that with time, God can change their hearts and education can change their futures, so we seek to bring both spiritual and practical help to empower the Mozambicans to bring their nation into a brighter tomorrow.
Over twenty years after the end of the war, Mozambique is still one of the poorest nations in the world--it sits in the bottom ten countries on the list on the Human Development Index (which combines GDP per capita, life expectancy, and literacy rates to determine how "developed" a country is). We see this statistic reflected in many sad realities around us. Economically, there are few jobs, and the ones that do exist often don't pay well or don't pay on time. Education is a major weakness, even the teachers in the public schools often don't show up to class and many children are equally apathetic, preferring to play today rather than study for their future. In the realm of health, superstitions, poor access to health care, and even corruption in the hospitals make it to where many needlessly die from treatable diseases and minor injuries. As a result, child mortality rates are through the roof and overall life expectancy is about 52.
Is it hard to live in a place with conditions like this? Yes. But is it worth it? Absolutely! As the South African evangelist, Angus Buchan said, “The condition for a miracle is difficulty, however the condition for a great miracle is not difficulty, but impossibility.” What may seem like an impossibly daunting situation is only an opportunity to see God break through in amazing ways.