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‘What if it were me?’

Churches of humble means in southern Africa experience the power of generosity as they serve the displaced.

MONTEPUEZ, Mozambique — A Church of Christ in this southern African nation recently made a gift of 50 meticals — that’s about 78 cents in U.S. currency — so that a displaced person could take their sick child to a hospital.

A deacon of the church, André Álvaro, encountered another refugee family, hungry and without possessions, so he offered them 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of corn.
“The sadness doesn’t end,” Álvaro said, “but after helping, the situation becomes a little better.”

Montepuez, Mozambique

Across Mozambique, small Churches of Christ with humble means are encountering waves of severe need. Hundreds of thousands of their countrymen have fled from violence in the northern Cabo Delgado province — many leaving family farms behind.

The conflict zone, where Islamic militants began an insurgency in 2017, has become a focal point for the Mozambican government due to its proximity to rich, offshore deposits of natural gas, the BBC reported.

Church members are serving the displaced, missionary Chad Westerholm wrote in A Lâmpada, a Portuguese-language publication produced by LAMP International.

Álvaro’s congregation, the Menheuene Church of Christ, began planning regular visits to the displaced. “When we come to their houses, we don’t complain because they don’t give us chairs to sit on,” he told Westerholm, “but we sit with them on the floor, for they have no chairs to offer!”

Churches in the U.S. have sent funds to help, and Mozambican church members have distributed food, school uniforms, clothes, pots, mats and other necessities. Church members also have provided tools to help the displaced people develop livelihoods — hoes, machetes, bicycles, saws, hammers and chisels.

Missionaries in Montepuez organized a seminar to train Christians to minister to those who have suffered trauma. One church member, Goncalves Ignatius, talked about an unforgettable encounter with a displaced man.

Members of a Church of Christ in Balma, Mozambique, bundle clothes to share with refugees who arrived in the town with nothing.

Members of a Church of Christ in Balma, Mozambique, bundle clothes to share with refugees who arrived in the town with nothing.

“His daughter and son-in-law were beheaded in his presence,” Ignatius said, “and he was forbidden to cry.”

The church member added, “God puts in the hearts of members and leaders the spirit to serve, love and encourage. So they lead many to Jesus.”

Most of the refugees speak languages different from those of the churches they encounter. Napoleon David, an evangelist in the village of Namuno, said his Macua-speaking congregation has adapted to serve the displaced.

“Previously, we used only one language in the services,” David said. Now the church uses its common tongue, Portuguese.

Baptisms have resulted from the outreach. But the relief efforts also have transformed the churches as they have served those in need.

At first “there was not much willingness to help,” David said, “but now we are seeing the church being generous. … I look at them and think, ‘What if it were me?’ Anything I have deserves to be shared.”

Read the full story at alampada.org.

Filed under: Andre Alvaro Cabo Delgado Chad Westerholm Goncalves Ignatius International Lamp International missionaries Mozambique News

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