News from the front…
Since Carla updated you on our daily routines and what we’re learning, I get to tell you the more exciting things – what we’ve been doing. And what God’s been doing. And why we need your prayers constantly. I know it is a bit long, but it’s an amazing story – if you don’t have time to read it now, please save it and read it sometime soon.
You may wonder how two missionaries focused on saving dying orphans ended up with 9000 churches… We have been wondering that too, but our latest outreach has given us a lot of insight. The former street kids and AIDS orphans play a huge role. They were taken from the streets where they would have certainly died and they were given a home, food, love, and a hope and a future. Even though they know they don’t have to risk their lives for Jesus, they do so out of absolute love for Him. After all, who would know of God’s love more?
Our two leaders for the 3 day outreach were Dilio and Netto – Heidi picked up Dilio off the streets even before she had any land for a center. They have been working together for years. Netto was a killer and a thief – one of the two most feared outlaws in the entire region. He had been killing people since he was 6 just to have their t-shirts. Now he’s a worship leader and a mighty man of God.
Even before the outreach started, we had major problems. Our house flooded the night before, and we had to mop up the water every couple hours. In addition, our water filter was dropped and broken before we could fill all of our water for the outreach. Once we were all packed into the back of our flat-bed truck, the driver refused to walk across the base to drive us. After waiting for almost an hour, one of the kids jumped in the truck and tried to drive it to the driver. He didn’t know how to stop the truck and we all crashed into the church, ruining the truck and cracking the foundation of the church. One pastor was seriously injured and had to go to the hospital, and the kid that crashed the truck ran away. We got another truck and headed on our way 2 hours late.
Two hours later, we arrived at our destination, only to find out that our only translator didn’t come with us because his brother was the one who crashed the truck into the church and he went looking for his brother. Luckily, God knew this would happen months in advance and gave us an outreach team with Carla and I (who have a decent hold of the language now) and two people fluent in both Spanish and French (which are similar to Portuguese). We chatted with the local pastor, set up our tents in back of his house, and went looking for a latrine. The local latrines were just fenced off areas with a rock in the middle – we still have no idea how they are supposed to work, so for the weekend, we either went in the tall grass outside of the village or made the 10-15 minute trek to the one latrine with a hole near the church. This was totally ok for most of the missionaries in training, but we had an additional 21 visitors from Canada who really struggled with it.
We then went to the local school and attached soccer field to set up for the evangelism outreach that night. This night, we were showing the Jesus film, and then Heidi was going to drive in later and preach. We always draw a huge crowd because we are foreigners, and because the Jesus film is the only film ever translated into Macua, the local dialect. We set up the movie and began playing it to a curious audience of about 800, but about 30 minutes in to the movie, it began to rain and people started leaving. We all started praying, and the rain stopped less than a minute later.
The crowd kept growing until there were about 2000 people. At the last possible second before the movie ended, Heidi and a couple of our speakers from the school drove up. Heidi gave a quick salvation message and then asked us to go out into the crowd and pray for the sick. Heidi had asked for all the people with stomach problems to raise their hands, but on my way to a person with stomach problems, another guy grabbed me and pointed to his other arm. He couldn’t move his elbow, and after feeling his arm, we realized that he didn’t have a tricep – there was just a bit of flab where the muscle should have been. Fortunately, he was one of the few people in the village that understood Portuguese and I started praying for him with one other guy on my team. After a couple minutes, we felt his tricep again, and the muscle had totally grown back! He got really excited, and ran off to get someone else. It turns out the other man had the same problem, and after 40 minutes of praying, his muscle grew back, too. The first man was so excited that he kept bringing us people to pray for, and a week later at the conference Carla spoke about, we got to see him baptized!
Other people praying that night got to see a deaf person healed and a little deaf-mute girl hear her mommy’s voice for the first time and start to speak. However, not everyone had a great time. About half of the people praying just got mocked the entire time, most of the women were harassed physically and verbally, and half a dozen people had cameras or bags stolen. However, the worst debacle was Heidi’s car was broken into during the meeting and her stuff and all the speaker’s stuff was stolen. Passports, visas, clothes, several thousand dollars, phones, and even wedding rings were stolen. We got together as a team after the outreach, and Heidi spoke to us about what we had just seen / been through. Even though all of her stuff was stolen, she chose to focus on the people that received Christ for the first time and the amazing miracles we saw God do. We caught a small glimpse at the price others have had to pay to bring the gospel to this area as the pastors that came with us told us stories of times they had been stoned or had their houses burned. It amazed us that every person counted it joy (Jas 1:2) at the trials they faced for the gospel. And we in turn counted it joy for the small price we had to pay to see most of a village completely transformed. However, due to the large amount of spiritual warfare we were experiencing, we felt like we needed to have people awake all night praying. Two of the pastors stayed up all night praying while us foreigners took shifts.
Heidi and the speakers spoke at a seminar at the church the next day, then headed out for another outreach. However, they left Dilio behind to translate for us. After 4-5 hours of sharing at the church, we went back to camp for lunch while the pastors jumped in one of the vehicles and headed after some of the thieves from the night before. They were able to buy back the passports, clothes, and rings but couldn’t find the other things. We originally planned to do another outreach in the same village because it was the safest village in the area, but when the pastors found out, they had a fit. They couldn’t stand to preach the gospel in the same village when there were others around who had never heard the good news. So we changed the plan and headed to another village against the judgment of Netto – our most street-savvy pastor.
As you can imagine, we were praying pretty hard. We knew we were being risky to go to a different village, but really felt like God would protect us. At 4:30 pm, we drove out to the next village, taking 40-50 older youth from the first village with us. We didn’t find out till later that we took the youth so they could protect the visitors in case something went wrong – the pastors didn’t really care what happened to themselves. However, the night went amazingly well. We showed the Jesus film to about 1000 people and many people received Christ. We then asked for people who needed healing. Well, Dilio our preacher told us to go into the audience to pray for people and then he started yelling at the audience to bring him a 100% deaf person. The lady that the crowd brought forward was completely deaf and had been so for over 30 years. She got healed on stage, and the entire atmosphere of the village changed – instead of being a little skeptical anymore, they quickly brought out all the sick people and begged us for prayer. I got to pray for several babies that had malaria – their heads went from being really hot to normal temperature and the moms left quite grateful to God. Carla spent the time translating because Dilio left the stage to pray for someone. We stayed for about two hours praying for the sick, and almost all were healed, including a completely blind man and 5 or 6 deaf or mostly deaf people.
We felt like we should pray through the night that second night as well, but we were all too tired to actually carry that out. The next day, one of our leaders was violently sick, we had no bread left for breakfast so we had to improvise, and all of the pastors left to chase after the thieves again. The plan was to eat breakfast, then pack, then preach at 8 o’ clock, then leave at 10. Our Mozambican hosts made us boiled plantains and mayonnaise (not as bad tasting as it sounds), but we didn’t finish breakfast until 9:30. Since Carla was the only one that could really give a sermon in Portuguese, she went to the church to start speaking while the rest of us packed up. The pastors returned around noon, and we left at 1:30 to make a “quick detour” to the prison, or so the pastors told us. At the prison, a couple policemen with automatic weapons jumped in one of our trucks and we headed to the police station, which was, of course, in a completely different village.
We got to the police station, and the pastors and policemen went in while the rest of us went to grab a cold drink. A little while later, the pastors came out, threw all the gear out of one of the trucks, and drove off without telling us much. The Canadians freaked out, but the rest of us were excited because we were right next to the beach. Everyone went to hang out at the beach while I went with the other truck and driver to find phone credit to call our base and let them know what happened to us.
Random aside about how hard even small things are in Africa: we went to every shop in town, and only one had phone credit for sale, but it was closed. It was fairly important, so we went into the village to look for the owner. After we found the owner, we waited for her to go to a different house and get the key. We drove back to the shop, only to find out the lock had busted and the key wouldn’t work. I left one of our younger Mozambicans there with instructions to buy credit if the store ever got opened, and the truck went to the next village to look for credit. We never found any.
Night fell, and our pastors still hadn’t arrived with the other truck. We decided to go take communion together and talk about the experience at one of the local shops. During that time, we found out that some people got to pray for a sick little girl and see about 5 people saved through that encounter. It struck me that God sidetracked 50 people for 4.5 hours just because He cared so much for that one family. The pastors came back at 7:30, still unable to recover the belongings, and then we realized that one of the trucks didn’t have working headlights. We spend 30 minutes fixing the headlights, then we were on our way on dirt roads that were never meant to be travelled in the dark. Nevertheless, God protected us and we got back safely around 9.
Our team learned so much through the experience. We learned about God’s love and power, His love for even one or two people, the absolute need for intercession, and the price third-world pastors pay daily for the sake of the gospel. I hope this has given you a glimpse into our lives recently and let you know how important every one of your prayers are. God bless!
– Jon and Carla Reinagel