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Tim and Beth Wood work at the Sofala Bible Institute in Beira, Mozambique, and have a passion for encouraging both strong churches and godly families. They tell us why there is such a big need for biblical teaching on marriage and how friendships have been an important foundation for this teaching and discipleship.
“I am tired of burying young people,” said Pastor Samuel to Tim as they walked through a cemetery. Aids continues to cast a long shadow over our ministries. Two weeks ago at a funeral we heard a eulogy which spoke of a lady and her surviving grandchildren. A whole generation was missing.
Back when we lived in Machanga, a woman came to the pastor’s house where Tim was learning Cindau. She said that the ancestors had appeared to her twice in dreams to tell her that her granddaughter, Rosita, had to go to the city of Beira. Rosita had been sent to live with her grandmother after losing her parents to Aids. Rosita returned to live with relatives in Beira and ended up with her half-brother. After high school, she wanted to become a nurse, but she didn’t make it into the government nursing school and had to wait. This was her opportunity to enrol in the two year evening course at Sofala Bible Institute. She really grew spiritually during this time. Today she travels every Sunday for an hour to teach children in a church plant outside of Beira. During the week she is a third-year student in the nursing degree at the Catholic University of Mozambique. Praise the Lord for Rosita!
Sexual immorality is a major problem, which then gives rise to Aids and abortion. Beth recently discipled a young woman whose first instinct when she found out that she was pregnant was to have an abortion. Showing young people how to honour God in their relationships and to value life is so urgent. Biblical teaching on marriage and family is included in all of the programmes at the Sofala Bible Institute, and health and hygiene is taught in most. The goal is that this teaching will strengthen families, promote faithfulness in marriage and reduce the impact of HIV/Aids.
As well as through formal teaching, it’s amazing to see how God has provided opportunities for us to encourage this through relationships too. Back in 2008, Manuel, a youth we knew from our church in Beira, taught our children Cindau (one of the local Mozambican languages). He wanted to be a doctor. After he passed high school he was sponsored to begin medical studies through AIM’s Advanced Studies Scholarship project. He is now a doctor in Machanga, where we first lived when we moved to Mozambique. A year before graduation Manuel met Gilda, a nurse on the ward, whom he had first met many years ago at a retreat for Child Evangelism Fellowship. Early in 2015 they asked us to be ‘sponsors’ for their wedding, which is a role that includes spiritual, financial, and practical support. They are now like members of our family and we meet regularly with them to encourage them in their marriage.
They continue to live Christ-centred lives; Manuel has taken the Sunday school teachers’ course at Sofala Bible Institute, and one of the teenagers that Manuel led to Christ as a Sunday school teacher is now a graduate of Sofala Bible Institute in her own right.
God is faithful
For us, ministry is often long term and low key. Sometimes it seems no progress is being made and the days seem filled with setbacks, but in all we can see how God is faithful. It is a joy to be part of a web of friendships spanning 21 years in Beira and Machanga.