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Claudia Middendorf works in Beira, central Mozambique. She shares about her passion for the local church and her desire to see the church responding to God’s call.
During my second year in Bible school back in 1981 we all went on a short mission trip to Kenya. What struck me then was that there was so much potential in the local churches that was not being used. What seemed to be lacking was encouragement, discipleship, training and mobilisation into mission. God used this experience to define his task for me in Africa. This is what I have been doing in Mozambique since 1987. I have encouraged, discipled and done a lot of training.
The fresh focus of AIM on mobilising the local churches towards mission has awakened me to the fact that the fourth part of my early vision has not been a significant part of my ministry. Today I am the Unit Leader for AIM in central Mozambique, seeking God for his guidance about what AIM and I as an individual should be doing.
Set up to leave
In 1975, our first attempts to begin ministry in Mozambique were thwarted. All entry was forbidden by a regime claiming to be ‘the first truly Marxist government in Africa.’ In 1985 we eventually entered Mozambique to find that through the war and communist years the gospel had been quietly spread by Mozambican evangelists. Our work therefore supported their efforts, with missionaries seeking to support the local church and to share Bible training with local pastors.
Peace came to Mozambique in 1992. But since then undercurrents of discontent have occasionally spilled over into violence and fears remain that the wounds of the civil war may yet reopen. It’s in this context that we have ministered. Circumstances have led us to act in such a way that if forced to leave, missionaries can be sure that the local church is in good hands. Please continue to pray for stability and good governance in Mozambique. And pray too for the local church, that it would grow in maturity and depth of insight.
Mobilising local churches
Central Mozambique has a number of different people groups. Most are considered reached with the gospel. They should be able to reach the rest of their own people groups and also reach beyond those groups to those who have yet to see a church established in their midst. We find that many churches have a twisted understanding of the gospel and how it is spread. Salvation by works often outranks salvation by grace. There are pastors who live in sin, others who are not sure of their own salvation and again others who still follow their traditional animistic practices. Churches are being planted without proper planning or to enhance one’s own denomination. Concern for the lost and strategic decisions on how to best reach them rarely play a role. Mission is what foreigners come to do, not something the local church gets involved in. And most churches consider themselves too poor and lacking in training to send out missionaries.
Listening to God’s call
This context defines our role today: How do we challenge, encourage and prepare our local churches to fulfil their role in God’s plan to reach those who have not yet heard. Both the missionary community and the local churches have focused a lot – and not without reason – on what the churches didn’t and often still don’t have. But we also need to focus on what they do have: a call from God and people to follow it. Join us in prayer for workers from this harvest.