Monday, December 7, 2015

Fruit in Lugela

Written by Lorena Wood

“It’s 5:00 a.m. – time to head out.”  The four adventurous missionaries, Stig, Stephan, Mandy, and Scott, pile into the car with their essentials – water bottles, tents, and toilet paper!  Four hours into the journey they come across the beautiful Pongwe River in Gorrongoza.  Many are washing their clothes and bathing, assured that the crocodiles were “down river”.  The four soak in the beauty, refresh themselves, and take their bathroom break the “natural” way - no bathrooms or convenient stores available on these road-trips.  Off again, slowly, precariously, through huge potholes - trying not to bottom out their little car.  Eight hours later they reach the guesthouse in Mocuba, Zambezia.  They were thankful no corrupt police stopped them to confiscate their documents for a bribe and no serious problems happened to the car, especially since good service stations don’t exist in these little villages along the way.  Enjoying their deserved night of rest in a comfortable bed, they prepared mentally for what the next few days would entail.  

“OK- I’m ready – I’ve made all the arrangements for the cornmeal and truck,” Zito proudly informs Stephan as they head to the store in Mocuba early the next morning.  Soon the vehicle is loaded with 150 sacks of cornmeal with Zito sitting on top, guiding the truck and leading the way for the missionaries following in their little car.  

Zito Leading the Way

They head to Lugela, where we showed the Jesus Film in the past - click on link to youtube video to see first outreach in this village: Zito and his wife, Josefina, have prepared the way for this distribution of food to their starving village.  Earlier this year floods destroyed their farms.  Now there was nothing to harvest and the people were desperate.  Each family in their village of Lugela would now receive one sack of cornmeal; enough to help hold them over till the beginning of the next harvest.  “Keep going!”  The dirt road turned into a narrow footpath with rows of newly planted corn on one side and tall grass on the other.  “No.  We must stop.  We can’t reach the village with this truck.  They will have to come to us.”  Walking the extra distance with no complaints, the women danced and sang their way to the missionaries, greeting them with exuberant African music.  Like a proud cheerleader, Josefina led the joyful crowd with a whistle and tennis shoes!   

Soon the entire village gathered under the large mango trees near the loaded down truck.  Having a perfect opportunity to share the gospel with so many that live by witchcraft and ancestral spirit worship (worshipping demons, basically), Stephan and Zito begin teaching the gospel message…. During this time, the Holy Spirit gives Stig a word of knowledge.  “There is a woman here that is crippled with severe pain in her legs.  God wants to heal you.”  An old lady gingerly stands up and with extreme difficulty, and comes to the front.  Stig prays for her and she is completely healed!  Most of these villagers have never seen God move in power.  Yet they’re well acquainted with the witch doctors’ methods. His demonic healings come with a costly price and sacrifice, however – often a shortened lifespan or sickness to a family member.  Excited, the villagers welcome the team’s invitation to return the next day for more teaching and ministry.  In time the distribution begins.  Each household in the village receives a large sack of cornmeal, expertly balancing the heavy cargo on their heads as they walk home to their mud huts with grass roofs.

Stephan and Scott placing a sack of corn meal on someone's head!

 After a full day in the extreme summer heat, the team refreshes themselves in the beautiful river.  Again the locals assured them that the crocodiles were down stream in the deeper parts!  They trustingly welcomed this information and enjoy swimming till the sun set.  A crowd of children inquisitively observes
these “unusual white foreigners” from the banks.  Slowly gaining courage, they jump in little by little, stripping to their underwear or nothing at all, till eventually about 40 joined in the fun.  Scott recounts, “It was the best river I’ve ever been in!”
Stig, Scott, and Stephan

Mandy and Scott
As the evening progressed, a bright full moon rose, reflecting over the river.  With no electricity in this village this moonlight and myriads of stars served well as Zito cooked dinner for the team over an open fire outside his house.  Eating African style with no utensils, the four enjoyed their rice, and chicken. But this was no ordinary chicken.  Five months earlier, Zito’s son, Arcenio, prayed for a 25 year-old man in this village who had been paralyzed from birth.  Jesus touched him and he was completely healed.  Now this same man brought his precious chicken to Zito during this time of drought and famine.  Out of sincere gratitude to Jesus for his healing, he insisted Zito cook this chicken for the missionaries.  Yet this was not their only incredible chicken meal.  

The next day began at sunrise, with a morning dip in the notorious river.  No sleeping in - tents basically become an oven in this scorching African summer heat.

Scott Pulliam

After a simple breakfast of bread and tea, all headed to the church.

Finding a shady spot!
Filled to the brim, the overflow sought shelter from the heat within earshot under a nearby mango tree.

God began to move.  Stephan and Zito taught the Word and Jesus began to heal the sick.  The blind saw – about 15 people received complete restoration of eyesight.  One was completely blind and healed. These were tested before and after being prayed for, by asking them to read from the Bible and look at things far away. To mention a few of the healings, a man with trembling uncontrollable hands was healed completely. (There are no proper doctors or hospitals to diagnose the disease, but Jesus knows and He healed the man!)  Before praying he could not hold a bottle of water.  After Jesus healed him, he could hold it perfectly fine, without any trembling.  Another woman had a paralyzed arm, with her arm bent so that her clenched fist was fixed next to her shoulder.  Jesus released her arm to full restoration.  She can now move her arm freely like everyone else! A completely mute lady was healed.  Three others who were partially mute were also healed.  Jesus healed a completely deaf man as well.  

Preaching at the Church

Ministry time continued for hours.  No one wanted to leave.  As the afternoon progressed, more and more sick people came to the church as the neighbors heard about the healings.  A little paralyzed girl received healing in her legs.  At the time she just began to move her legs while sitting down.  Terrified by these white faces looking at her, she refused to try standing up.  Today, however, we've received news that she is walking and her legs are gaining strength!  About 15 people got saved this day and 7 the day before.  As I write this story three weeks later, we’re receiving phone calls that more are coming to the church each week and getting saved.  Zito commented tonight, “These folks were stubborn and hard hearted.  They were never interested in going to church.  This is a real act of God.  They see now that He is real when their neighbors are getting healed and turning to Christ!”  

After hours of praying for the sick and seeing God heal the deaf, the blind, and the lame, Zito directed them away from the church, insisting that they rest.  It wasn’t till 4:00 before they ate lunch, but food wasn’t a top priority on a day like this!  The team eagerly took another refreshing swim at the river while Zito prepared yet another chicken with a story.  This one also began five months ago with Arcenio, Zito’s oldest son.  While visiting his village after his bible school concluded, he excitedly prayed for a lady with tuberculosis.  God completely healed her and consequently her husband became a believer.  Now this grateful husband sacrificially gave Zito a chicken to prepare for these visiting missionaries!

Stig and Zito visited the sight where we had arranged the digging of a well for the community so they’d have another water source when the waters rise in rainy season and the crocodiles come back (likely arriving within the month). All was going well.  Next they visited the sight where we had bought land for their widows and orphans.  Two houses had been constructed with a houseful of orphans in each, with widows taking care of them.  As evening approached, the team said their good-byes to Lugela and continued on to Mocuba where they would finish out their 5-day outreach – teaching a seminar to all the district pastors and their wives about marriage.  

God continues to move in this village and we’re confident it will be a catalyst for the whole province in the near future.  Zito and his family will be moving back to their village soon and make strategic plans to bring the gospel in Word and power to all the villages in Lugela.  It’s a very large province, but we will give him a motorcycle to help him get around.  There is no public transportation in these parts – just dirt footpaths where people walk or occasionally ride a bike.  Communication is difficult.  Most don’t have phones and there is no electricity.  We will help Zito set up a solar panel system with a marine battery so he and other pastors can charge their phones and communicate with each other and us.   Zito has been with us now for five years, first in Mocuba, and now in the Sofala province for four years.  It’s soon time for him to leave us and do the work of an evangelist and church planter in his province and others surrounding him.  He knows this is God’s calling on his life and these five years have prepared him well.  Ministering now in the power of the Holy Spirit and having a deep love for the Word of God, we know much more fruit is sure to come.  


SensibleMom said...

What a powerful God we have!

Jeanne said...

Wow! I love these testimonies!!!!!!!!!