Things in Africa are so much different than in the US… Theology doesn’t matter to the people we see – to the broken, the homeless, and the dying, they need more than just news about where they could go after they die. They need hope and life now. Preaching the good news to the poor has been great, but just like Jesus’s ministry, the best part has been providing for their needs, showing them God’s love, and see their lives completely turn around.
The base we’re at now has 330 kids, about 20 long term missionaries and 12 short term missionaries at a time. The scope is amazing – most days, there are multiple outreaches into the community and every day hundreds are fed. I think the most amazing thing is to see the kids here and their heart for outreach – these were the children off the street that had almost no hope of surviving unless they got taken in; they came in bitter, self-centered, and malnourished (among other things) but after they were shown God’s love through the Christians here, they have an incredible desire to go out and share that love with others. We go to the hospital and pray for the sick, have outreaches to the street kids who have no homes and beg for a living, reach out to the people in jail, and we have even gone to the village dump where people live trying to scavenge any trash they may be able to sell.
The hospital was the first place we went. It was overwhelming to say the least and I don’t think any of us could have stood to be there if we didn’t have the ability to do something about their situation. In America, when we pray for someone and they don’t get better, we just go ahead and get the surgery or take pain relievers – if the Mozambicans don’t get healed, they will usually die or be scarred for the rest of their life. We would walk into a room, tell everyone why we’re here, and ask if anyone would let us pray for them. Usually, most people would accept. Not everyone was healed, but everyone was touched in an important way. The AIDS victims were the worst to see – almost all of them were stick-thin, and some of them couldn’t talk anymore. They would cry out in pain almost constantly and none of them got healed this trip, but several had less pain. But there were much better stories as well. In one room with 3 women in it, every one of the patients got healed and walked out of the room – they were all in the lounge smiling when we left! 5 women ended up accepting Christ as their savior, and the atmosphere in that corner of the hospital had shifted from death and decay to one of joy and happiness. This happens almost every week, but the hospital is huge and we can only touch a couple people’s lives at a time.
The gospel here is just amazing – the kids have really taught me a lot about why Christ came. In the States, I think we too often focus on death and life after death. In Mozambique, there is a stark contrast to the death and pain all around us, and the joy and life in the ones who know Christ. I don’t think there is anywhere where we saw this more than in the Bocaria – the city dump. People without jobs would try to make a living by rummaging through the garbage and selling the metal back to companies and the food trash to pig or goat owners. The dump was enormous, and after walking in for 15 minutes, we had still only seen a corner of it. I’ll send pictures later, but we’re kind of having difficulty with our dial-up connection. We walked up the hill of trash in 3’s and 4’s and asked the people if we could pray for them, then told them about food we were handing out at the church at the bottom of the hill. Many of them were touched by the prayers, but no one we talked to last week went to the church to get food – they didn’t want to leave their pile of trash for fear that someone would take it. I thought that was so symbolic of many of our lives – afraid to give up our trash and step out and take real food. But I think the most encouraging thing that happened occurred deep in the dump – we approached one guy covered in flies expecting to see the lifeless, hopeless stare that characterized most of the people in the dump, but instead we were greeted with eyes full of hope and joy. When we told him what we were there for, he told us his story – he used to live in the dump, then found Christ several years ago. With help from some Christians, Zito was able to live outside of the dump and have a real life, but then he felt called back to the dump in order to reach others. He now lives there to bring hope to others. When Rolland and Heidi first got here (the missionaries whose organization we’re working with), the other missionaries and churches told them they were wasting their times with the dying and the homeless because those people would never make a difference in society. But Jesus reached out to the dregs of society, and it seems like he knew what he was doing – the formerly dying and homeless are now making incredible differences; the mission base’s school that sought to educate the kids who had never been able to afford school is now the number 1 school in the country, and many Mozambicans have been called to other countries to share the same good news that changed their life around.
We were also able to go to the police station and witness to the people that were in the temporary jail there. People would be kept there for about a week at a time, so each week we share the gospel to another round of delinquents. Many of them needed the gospel, but in a way that surprised us – they couldn’t stand living with themselves, and in jail for the first time, they had nothing to do to take their mind off that fact. We explained to them that that was because of the sin in their life and told them Jesus came to take away that guilt and give them a new life. One of the guys told us this was the happiest day of his life, and several others also gratefully accepted the message. Even more surprising, the guards came up to us, got down on their knees, and asked us to pray for them. Almost every one of the 15-20 stationed policemen came up and asked us to pray for them – the Mozambicans from the center had never seen anything like it!
Later, we hope to update you on some of the other happenings around the base. By sharing these things, we hope to show you just how powerful your prayers for us have been and how much difference your support has made in people’s lives. We also hope to challenge you a bit and to let you know that the gospel is above all powerful and more than able to change people’s lives (Rom 1:16, 1 Cor 4:20)! God bless, and we’ll write back soon!
– Jon and Carla Reinagel
P.S. I wasn’t really expecting this, but my allergy to peanuts got healed!
P.P.S. For those of you a little more connected to Iris: Pastor Surprise wasn’t tortured then martyred – it was his cousin. Surprise is alive and well and has a base in South Africa.