On Monday morning, we flew early to Nampula. The conference, which began on Monday evening and concluded on Thursday, had as its theme: “Growing in Grace: The Doctrine and Practice of Genuine Sanctification.”
The meetings took place under a large tent, where mosquitoes that produce malaria are not uncommon, so we speakers were advised to take malaria-fighting medication for twenty days—from two days before we came to Mozambique until a week or so after we return home. This is no idle threat as five million cases of malaria are contracted each year in Mozambique, and significant numbers die from it; moreover, visitors are especially prone to be infected, as our bodies have not built up any immunity against it. This does make one feel quite dependent on God, as it is hard not to wonder when a mosquito buzzes around your head: Is this one of the bad ones? You are also advised to give your body a good spray of insect repellant each morning.
Jaime Marcelino gave four addresses and I gave five to a group of 300 people, most of whom were pastors. Three of his addresses focused on the struggle for Christian virtues between brothers (Phil. 1:2–11) and one address was on the necessity of experiencing genuine holiness as a preparation for eternity (Phil. 1:9–11). Four of my addresses focused on various aspects of sanctification, and I was also asked to give one historical address on lessons we can learn today from John Calvin’s life. We both felt helped and the men were a joy to preach to and quite responsive.
A group of dedicated young people, who sat in the first rows just before the pulpit dressed in beautiful African garb, sang heartily for us periodically throughout the conference. All of these young people listened intensely and were great note-takers.
Unlike the conference in Maputo which was a first, this is the 13th year for this conference. The Protestant and evangelical church in Mozambique is still quite young in many parts, especially in the north part of the country where this conference is being held. In many places the church is only in its second generation. This is due in part to Mozambican Christians being severely persecuted for many years at the hands of a Marxist government.