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Léonie Dieleman shares with us some of the challenges facing the Mozambican church, the hope that she has for the future.
Leaving a bad taste
When Mozambicans grate a coconut, they squeeze the grated coconut twice with some water to get the coconut milk which they use for cooking. If you squeeze it more than twice, there’s no more taste left. The majority of our church leaders almost always ‘squeeze’ the same Sunday topic: money. It has become ‘tasteless’.
There’s nobody like you!
As well as working with youth in churches, Léonie also does some work in local schools.
“One of my main ministries in Beira is teaching a one-year teenage and youth programme at public schools. The programme is called ‘There’s nobody like you’ and it consists of life lessons. We address issues such as self worth, how to make choices, peer group pressure, character, friendships, relationships, sexuality, corruption, the environment, Aids and sexual diseases, pregnancy and abortion, how to deal with money, circumcision, alcohol, poverty and even the love languages. This year I have 28 groups and about 1800 students. Classrooms with 90 students are challenging, especially in a culture where students obey teachers they fear, and where the majority of the students cannot read or write properly. But I feel privileged with the teaching I have done for 10 years now. I mainly ride my bike to school with a smile on my face, but sometimes I wish there was a shop where I could buy some patience!
Church leaders blame us for lack of love if we don’t give enough money, and when they give, they almost demand a huge applause. The purpose of some leaders seems to be climbing up the church hierarchy and they even marry for that reason. I was recently asked what I was willing to give to the church so that they would have a concrete memorial for me, just in case I was about to leave.
The youth leader thinks that the youth have to collect money at least once in a while to offer a crate of Coca-Cola to the pastor, his father-in-law. Many of these youth see through the leaders’ show to their empty and loveless words and attitudes. Some even leave the church, searching for a place where the spiritual food has more protein. It’s with pain and frustration that I see them leaving.
Providing a different option
“Through the Bible studies I learn how to live honestly…”
I try to invest in the youth through Bible studies using the five questions of the storying method. After having shared a certain Bible passage, we discuss: What did you like? What did you not like or not understand? What does this section teach us about God? About people? What is the message of this part of the Bible for our lives? When I started the studies, I was so amazed that the youth, usually so quiet, didn’t stop talking and answering questions. Once I asked, “Why?” One of them said, “It’s not being dictated now from the pulpit how we should think, but we are allowed through these questions to think for ourselves.” Jeremias, who is in his early twenties, left our church and visits another one, but he still comes to the Bible studies. He once said, “My soul is like firewood. When it’s dry, it burns easily, but when it’s wet, it doesn’t kindle. Through the Bible studies I learn how to live honestly and they heat and warm me up.” These comments set my heart on fire to continue…