As I visited with the people of Mozambique, I realized that ministering in a place like Nampula can be overwhelming. The needs are so great, the perils so many, the challenges so daunting, and the opportunities so abundant, that one scarcely knows where to begin.
How can we pray for our brothers and fellow soldiers of the Lord? Here are just a few of the issues in the Mozambican church:
1. Animism. It’s everywhere: in the mosque, in the church. Back country farmers and principled leaders in the government resort to the witch doctors for manipulation of the spirits believed to control everything. If a child gets sick, if the garden doesn’t produce, if one is fired from his job, he seeks out the witch doctor to find out who has cursed him or what spirit is displeased with him.
Animism runs rampant in the church, despite all the preaching against it. Members of the church are pressured by family members to participate in ceremonies honoring the dead. If a believer or one of his family members falls ill, the extended family “guilts” him into going to the witch doctor, accusing him of not caring for the well-being of his family. Worst of all is the pastor who preaches against witchcraft but whose words hold no more weight than the amulet he wears, given him by the witchdoctor to protect him from illness.
2. Crisis in the family. The African family is in shambles. (Americans have no cause to boast here either.) Men are not responsible for their own offspring but for their sisters’ children. City life has eroded traditional African morality. Immorality in the city is rampant. The church needs strong male leaders who exercise loving leadership. African wives frequently complain that their husbands abuse their authority over them. I am told that there are few, if any, sermons on a husband’s Christ-like love and care for the wife as the Savior cherishes the church.
3. The need for Christian wives. A Christian wife is hard to find here in northern Mozambique. Women are the guardians of tradition in the matriarchal Makua society. The older generation is very conservative of their African ways while the younger generation of “liberated” women doesn’t have time for Christ as they pursue the things of this world. The church needs biblical-grounded women who can read and understand the Word for themselves and can thus better support their husbands in their ministries.
4. The content of public worship. The beauty of African worship is its joy and celebration. But how much of it is directed to the Lord and how much is merely celebration for the sake of forgetting the hardships of life? The church service is comprised of session after session of congregational song and choral performances. Reading of Scripture, preaching of the Word, and instruction in the faith are neglected.
Moreover, the preaching of the gospel was suppressed for centuries under the Roman Catholic Portuguese colonial government then actively persecuted by decades of communist rule. The result is a weakened evangelical church that sometimes preaches a works-oriented salvation in keeping with Roman Catholic and Muslim influences that dominated the country for so long.
5. The supremacy of the Word as the rule of faith and life. Ignorance of Bible doctrine, and in particular, the requirements of God’s law, leaves many in darkness. Many profess to have turned to God but have not as yet turned away from idols. The church needs to promote faithful adherence to the standards of faith and holiness set forth in the scriptures without compromise. But, as with the rest of Christendom, African Christianity is often beset with compromise. Example: It is wrong to lie, but some lies are actually socially expected because it is not polite to contradict another person.
Pray for Mozambique! And hope that they are praying for us.