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A lot has happened since AIM first started working in Mozambique in 1985. Peace was made in the civil war, land mines were dug up and roads opened. Infrastructure has improved, businesses have been started, and large deposits of gas have been found. Mobile phones and social media are everywhere. Aids medication is now available. But what about the church? Claudia Middendorf gives us an insight.
The church has profited a lot from these changes. There is freedom to proclaim the gospel and churches are growing. Many previously unreached parts of the country now have churches. Bible schools have been founded and leaders are being trained. Bibles and Christian books are more readily available, though still nowhere near the level needed.
Claudia Middendorf shares a story of day to day discipleship in Mozambique.
A while ago I gave Manuela, who works in my home, a CD with 170 Bible story recordings for her children. The children loved the stories and listened faithfully. Then came the shock for Luisa (10): “Mum, these stories say that I am not a Christian. That can’t be true.” Manuela was not sure how to help Luisa and asked me when she came to work the next day. We talked about putting our trust in Jesus and making a conscious decision to follow him.
Manuela returned home determined to help Luisa understand how to be a follower of Jesus. And she kept thinking about her children and their faith. “You know,” she told me one day, “I think that we are sinning against our children when we keep them home on Sundays in order to save on bus fees. Our children have spiritual needs too that we as parents are responsible to meet. And going to church is part of that.” Discipling a mother to disciple her daughter is a real privilege.
But some things don’t seem to have changed. Corruption and crime are increasing and widespread poverty continues. Because of the still high rate of illiteracy, many church members and leaders can’t read the Bible for themselves or understand what they read. Combine this with the general poverty and large distances in the country and it is easy to understand why most church leaders still have no or very little training. Their teaching and preaching is wide open to unbiblical influences and syncretism (the blending of other beliefs and ideas into Christianity).
Sadly, fear of the spirit world is still an important part of many Christians’ lives. In times of crisis many still seek help from witch doctors. Trust and open communication are still rare in marriages where polygamy and a general lack of faithfulness is common. But, we are delighted to see individuals stand firmly grounded in Jesus and the Bible, teaching others the truth of God’s word. But again and again we are also saddened to see trusted believers lacking integrity and still following occult practices.
Theological education and pastoral training, a large part of our ministry, would just fill heads with knowledge if they were not accompanied by discipleship. To walk alongside our Christian brothers and help them to faithfully follow Jesus in all matters of life is essential. But it is also time consuming. The workers are few and many of our Mozambican brothers and sisters have never been discipled themselves and thus have little understanding of how to disciple others or even understand the need of it. We long to see many strong and humble Christians catch a vision for discipleship and to be willing to invest the time to walk alongside younger believers to help them to become faithful followers of Jesus Christ.