Monday, May 26, 2014

Jesus is Alive

May 2014

This month of May has been incredible, to say the least.  At the end of April, a new missionary family joined us full time from America - Tanya and Eric Weaver with their two little children, Haley and Lincoln.  Ready to serve in the areas of evangelism and discipleship, they jumped right in with two feet as a team of 17 YWAM students arrived May 1st!  After enjoying a few local outreaches and ministering to our local orphans, we all loaded up into a rented mini-bus that seats 17, and our hearty 4-wheel Mazda truck, to a district called Buzi for three days.  Prepared with tents and bottled water, we were ready for the deepest "bush bush" experience!  God more than met our hopes and expectations.  Packed to max capacity, we had no room to carry any food with us.  We figured we would buy food along the way and cook when we could.  The team willingly sought first the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33) and He provided in times and ways when we unexpectedly broke down, or were hindered by flooded waters, forcing us to take long detours down footpaths which our local guides called "roads" at night with grass growing on both sides 7' high!  Twice, poor local churches had prepared food for us upon arrival, which we didn't expect but were very grateful for.  Not yet to our final destinations, a long journey lay ahead of us both times with no opportunities along the way to buy food or cook (unbeknownst to us).   Our Heavenly Father knew this, however, and took care of His children perfectly. 

We work together with our district pastors and leadership, choosing new areas to preach the gospel with home visits and showing the "Jesus" film.  Buzi was no exception with our district pastor and his wife, Jacob and Cecelia.  Every week they ride their bikes for hours to new areas planting new churches.  On this trip, we brought reinforcements to two of these new areas.  One church had only been planted two months prior.  The few believers there were just baby Christians.  So we headed out in small groups with these new believers divided among us, visiting all the homes in the area to pray for their sick, share the Gospel, and invite them to the "Jesus" film that night.  As I walked the neighborhood with my little group, we came across an old lady sitting in front of her house barefoot, peeling peanuts.  We invited her to see the "Jesus" film that night, but she said she couldn't come because she was crippled.  "Can we pray for you?"  we asked. "Yes, if you want." she  responded, not expecting anything much.  So we simply asked Jesus to heal her.  Afterwards, we asked if she wouldn't mind testing out her legs and try to stand up.  She said, "If I stand up, I'll fall down!"  We said we'd help hold her up so she wouldn't fall.  So she complied, standing up gingerly.  "Try to take a few steps,"  we encouraged.  She did, very slowly with her back bent over.  Then she took another step, straightening her back a little.  Then another, straightening her back more and more, till she began walking upright and freely!  A huge expression of joy and surprise came over her as well as all of us!  She declared she had no more pain and began to laugh.  The next day I returned with Pastor Jacob, the local believer that was with me the day before, and a photographer from the team, ready to do a video interview.  But when we arrived at her house, we discovered she wasn't there!  So we interviewed the neighbors, a mother with 5 children.  "She has been crippled for three years.  But yesterday God healed her!  This morning she left early and is walking around the village!" the mother said.  See Video Testimony below.

This country is ripe for the Gospel.  Jesus heals the sick and crowds come out to see the film.  Usually many receive Christ when the invitation is given.  Then our district pastors organize follow up with the new belijevers.  In these last three weeks we've gone to 12 different places, some more unreached and deeper into the bush than others. 

After Buzi, we took the YWAM team home to our center where we did more local outreaches in our district of Dondo.  God moved mightily again, as we saw salvations just at our local bus stop and open markets while walking around in small groups, sharing Gospel tracts with individuals, praying for the sick, and praying for the Holy Spirit's guidance.  At one of the local showings of the "Jesus" film at the neighborhood elementary schoolyard, the team prayed for a little mute girl.  Jesus healed her and her first words were, "God loves me!"

Soon it was time to head out again in our rented mini-bus and loaded down truck of tents and equipment - this time to the district of Nhamatanda for three days.  This district pastor, Domingos, along with his district leadership, took us to two unreached but very populated areas.   They hoped to plant two new churches after our joint evangelism efforts there.  This is exactly what happened!  In both places, hundreds came to the film and received Christ.  Many were healed and some were delivered of demons.  Out of this, two new churches were born, now led by two pastors from other areas willing to take on another church temporarily until these new converts can continue on their own.  These new believers aren't concerned about first securing a church building.  They just sit on straw matts under a nice shady mango tree in the yard of willing community members.  Hungry to learn, they come eagerly with open hearts.

After we returned to our center, we went out one last time the following night with this team - to an unreached area just 1/2 an hour from our house.  (It doesn't take much to get into the "bush" with no electricity, running water, stores, etc.)  We did our typical thing - leaving a children's ministry team behind to teach and play with the local kids that gather to check out these strange visitors!  At the same time, our small set up crew gets the film projector equipment ready with the generator, speakers, and the portable screen of white sheets on two bamboo poles "securely" planted into little sandy holes we dig out.  Music begins, attracting people hidden from our eyes as their huts blend into the surrounding bushes and trees of this dense wilderness.   The rest of the team heads out in small groups, again dividing up with some Mozambican believers we've brought with us and some friendly local guides.  This particular village was very spread out.  Because of this, we were only able to visit a few homes.  I only expected a few people that night.  However, as the film began, the crowd grew and grew!   Seeing my shock at the swelling crowd, the pastor informed me, "Believers from another village came here last week to spread the word you were coming."  They must have walked from long distances that night!  The Holy Spirit showed up once again.  Almost everyone raised their hands to receive Christ and many were healed!  We saw children with burning fevers healed instantly beneath our hands as we prayed for them. Two boys, each with one blind eye, both received their sight!  Many with stomach pain (parasites), neck pain, headaches and body aches with fever (signs of malaria) were also healed.  Once again a new church is birthed!  Follow up with discipleship materials are on the way, along with audio solar Bibles for the majority who don't read in this new area.  What an amazing three weeks - such an honor to be here.  Jesus is alive and well!

Bless you,