“Shipwrecked” in Malta
Here we are in Malta…
Even though we were scheduled to fly out four days ago.
When we embarked on this journey, we were all expecting God to show up and do the unexpected, but an extended stay in Gozo, Malta was not what we had in mind! However, since the apostle Paul was also waylaid in Malta during his journey to Rome (Acts 27-28), we feel like we’re in pretty good company. Just as in Paul’s case, God has opened unexpected opportunities for ministry here, and we are excited to take advantage of those openings as we wait for what He has in store.
Those who read our last newsletter may remember that we were having trouble getting our applications for Mozambican visas processed. Our paperwork still has not come through, and we recently found out that the man who has to sign off on our work permits has been on the campaign trail for one of the contenders in the upcoming election. Our plans for flying into Mozambique and getting short-term tourist visas while we waited for our one-year work permits were changed when we learned that Mozambique has stopped issuing visas to almost all foreigners who apply. Even some of the long-term missionaries have gotten their applications for continued residence denied.
A look back at the history of Mozambique provides a clue to this sudden turn of events. During the Mozambican civil war, the rebel group (now turned political party), RENAMO, was primarily supported by foreign governments. Since a major presidential election is coming up in October, it is natural that the Mozambican government would be suspicious of outside interference.
Through much personal prayer and the prayers of many of our partners, we clearly felt God directing us to stay here in Gozo for the time being. So here we are! We are grateful for some time to get a few more Equip Mozambique-related projects finished before we enter Mozambique (an updated version of website should be coming soon!). It’s also nice to spend some extra time with Carla’s family and, of course, enjoy the beautiful scenery that Gozo has to offer.
Serving in Malta
While we were a little disappointed at our delayed entry into Mozambique, we have had no shortage of opportunities to serve here in Gozo. Jon and Carla have been teaching on communications and effective partnership with sending churches for some staff who are serving on the Youth With A Mission (YWAM) vessel, Next Wave.
Everyone enjoys learning from their wisdom and insight, and Jon’s technical support and computer maintenance skills are thoroughly appreciated by one and all! I (Janie) have gotten opportunities to participate in the vibrant worship and prayer happening aboard Next Wave, sit in on some of the training sessions for the YWAM staff, and become acquainted with people from the ship and from the local church. I’ve been blessed with various areas of service, from showing someone how to edit photos to washing dishes and cooking. We will all continue to look for ways to participate with the things God is doing here in Gozo, while also preparing for our eventual entry into Mozambique.
Bible Distribution for Mozambicans
While we’ve been here, we’ve been praying and reflecting about the purpose God has given us for returning to Mozambique, the foremost of which is to disciple people. We believe the first step toward effective discipleship is to put the Word of God into the hands of believers, but in a country where only 50% of the population is literate and the roads are some of the worst in the world, Bible distribution has always been a challenge.
Additionally, even if Bibles in the local languages are available, they are usually the only written communication in those languages so Mozambicans must go through a certain amount of education to even be able to read them. However, life wouldn’t be fun without some challenges! Using the facts that most Mozambicans have access to cell phones with internet connectivity and that the Mozambican culture is considerably more receptive to audio than to written communication, Jon got the idea of utilizing our time here to create a website from which Mozambicans may download free audio versions of the Bible in native languages.
It may come as a surprise that someone who lives in a mud hut, without electricity or running water, could actually own a cell phone, but internet-accessible phones may be purchased for $25 and it only costs $1 to download the full Bible (about 300 Megabytes). By providing audio resources that may be downloaded to cell phones, we will be utilizing an already-familiar and extensive platform to spread information in a culturally relevant way. We probably would not have gotten the time to work on this project if we’d flown into Mozambique in our own timing, so in many ways, our stopover here in Gozo is proving to be a major blessing.
Peace in the Midst of Uncertainty
Throughout the days of indecision, when we were uncertain of our options or whether or not we would be able to leave Gozo on the day we’d planned, God gave me a tremendous peace about the future. He kept directing me to scriptures like Psalm 34:8; ‘I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with My eye on you, I will give counsel.’ I kept remembering how He has brought each of us this far, and that, as long as we are walking each day in obedience to God, we can have complete trust that He will guide us exactly where we need to be. Though the path may take a few more twists and turns than we’d originally planned, we can rest in the assurance that He is always in control.
We’re not sure where this adventure will take us next, but we appreciate your prayers!
- The cease-fire agreement in Mozambique. We have been praying for peace there, and so this is a major answer to those prayers.
- That we have peace about our visa situation, even though it is still up in the air
- Ministry openings in Gozo, and that we’ve been able to do Kingdom work no matter where we are!
- Inspiration for the audio Bible website project
- That our visa paperwork would eventually come through!
- That God would help us make the most of the rest of our time here in Malta, and that we’d be able to accomplish all the projects He has given us to do
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