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The three daughters of Alan and Rachel Howell walk behind a group of women in Mozambique.

After armed home invasion, missionaries overwhelmed by support from African community

A missionary and his family in the southern African nation of Mozambique are recovering after armed robbers invaded their home.

“Thankfully, everyone is okay, besides a few cuts and bruises,” said Alan Howell. He and his wife, Rachel, are part of the Mission Among the Makua-Metto in Montepuez, Mozambique. 

The robbers took money and computers from the Howells and their three daughters. 

“Rachel and I are still feeling a bit shaken,” Alan Howell writes in a recent blog post. “This past week we resumed a more normal schedule but we still are feeling the effects. We’ve both felt like it has been harder to hear and speak Makua. It’s like our brains are moving slow, I’ve felt like we’re swimming in molasses and been harder to make normal decisions as quickly.”

Despite the trauma,  “the outpouring of love from Mozambicans has been a real blessing,” he told The Christian Chronicle. He devotes most of the blog post to describing the outpouring of love from his African community:

We’ve been flooded with visitors. In the first few days after the incident we had at least a hundred Mozambicans come to visit and cry with us. They’ve called this kind of visit ‘okituwela’ which is the word to describe the visits you make when someone is mourning a death. They’ve come to grieve and encourage us. 

One of the Mozambican preachers was here within a few hours and cried with his hand on my shoulder as he prayed for us. At least 10 men came on Sunday from the Evangelical Assembly of God to pray for us and bring about 10 U.S. dollars to help with our losses. Others brought flour and peanuts and bajias (small balls made of fried bean paste) for the girls. A man that barely knows us sent over bread, jam and a jar of mayonnaise. 

Women sit and cry with Rachel. One man walked barefoot from a nearby town and started crying as soon as he saw me. Two other men rode their bikes from another town to check on us after hearing about it over the phone – “It wasn’t enough to just hear that you were okay, we had to see you with our eyes because the whole village is crying for you and we needed to be able to tell them that we saw you alive.” 

I have talked often with one of the Mozambican church members about the need to be ‘strong and courageous’ and I received that reminder in a text message from him as I drove to the police station Sunday morning. People have sat with us and told us their own stories of suffering and tales of God’s faithfulness in the midst of pain. One man who has been a follower of Jesus for just a couple years, rode his bike from another town to deliver a gigantic bag of flour and shared a testimony of Christ’s provision in hardship to me and the others present. 
All these visitors have reminded me that we are really doing ministry ‘among’ or ‘with’ the Makua people. It is not just us doing ministry ‘to’ them. They are ministering to us as well and that is how it should be.

Read the full post.

Alan Howell is a regular international news contributor for the Chronicle. Read his 2012 Views piece, “Christ and Islam: A view from Africa.”

Filed under: Breaking News News Extras

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