Many of the areas worst affected by climate change are in the world’s poorest countries. A recent report by Christian Aid states, ‘People in the, as-yet, more sheltered corners of the global North are now starting to experience the force of the climate crisis, but across the global South it is something they have already been feeling the effects of for years.’ Some of our missionaries based in Mozambique discuss the effects of Cyclone Idai and how in every situation Christ’s love can be shown.
Karis Koehn shares, “In our home culture, rain is often seen as something that dampens an otherwise happy event. As children we would sing, “Rain, rain, go away, Come again another day…” We obviously weren’t farmers. Only after living in a semi-arid region in central Mozambique did I learn to appreciate how invaluable rain is. Each year we wait with much anticipation for those heavy rains that penetrate our clay soil to signal that it is time for everyone to plant their crops. With the rains comes hope.
Since 2019 though, the arrival of the heavy rains has also brought fear and uncertainty. Will these rains bring life or death? The devastation that hit our area on March 15 and 16, 2019 will not easily be forgotten as Cyclone Idai and the resulting flooding killed 38 from our village and many more in the surrounding areas. The winds flattened homes and trees, but even greater terror came the following day when our river flooded to a never before seen level. The southern half of the village was inundated. The raised highway that splits the village in two held the water at bay from flooding our half until the force of the water broke through the highway to the east and west of us. Our home and surrounding community became an island.
People stranded by the flood waters were in trees and on roofs. Many hoped to reach the highway, but the racing waters were impassable. God gave Robert the idea and the courage, along with a couple of other young men, to fight the current and create a rope pathway buoyed by plastic jugs across the deepest, swiftest waters. Onlookers stood along the highway, paralysed by their fear of death. When completed, a stream of people pulled themselves to safety over the next 48 hours. Our home sheltered hundreds of people, and as the waters receded, people began slowly returning to their properties to start over.
Weeks later television reporters arrived to interview Robert. He was busy teaching a Bible class and encouraged them to interview Moises, a young man who had helped Robert with the ropes. The reporters, incredulous that one of their own would risk his life to help others, kept asking Moises if he hadn’t considered that he could have died. His answer was always the same: he trusted in God.
Daily we had opportunities to share the gospel with others as they processed the trauma. Providing shelter, food, clothing, building materials, tools, seed, and new homes in a timely fashion encouraged many and were made possible by gifts from believers in far-away places.
A year after Idai, severe flooding in peoples’ fields swept away their harvest. The following year crops were again destroyed by more flooding, and two other cyclones took glancing hits on our village. Currently the population is once again in their fields preparing for the coming rains, but there is trepidation. What will happen this next year?
“From where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1