Our previous report updated supporters on our ministry to the Mozambique church through the bookshop, pastors’ conferences, and training seminars. In the future we will be relying more on e-mail communications and updates through the web-site.
South Africa Visitation:
As reported last time, we need missionary associates to help develop the ministry opportunities God has granted here in Nampula. Praying that God would lead us to these people, we spent two months visiting South African churches in March and April. We had 22 meetings in 12 churches in the Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Durban areas. God did indeed lead us to a number of potential colleagues, some of them well qualified. One experienced church planter had served a term in Mozambique and still carries a burden of love for the people he was forced to leave because of circumstances which no longer prevent his return to the country. Another couple who would fit in well with us is already on their way to Nampula. They expect to begin work in December with a fine mission board, though it is not as likeminded in its doctrinal position as we are. A third mature, like-minded couple is attending Bible school part-time in preparation for missionary service while the husband continues his job as a chemical engineer. We thank the Lord for establishing these relationships and pray that in time they may lead to the help we need. In South Africa we also visited the Malawi brothers, Kwacha and Kondwani, who worked with us a year in Nampula. They are finishing their fourth year of seminary and are praying to know the Lord’s will for future work. I have only a few messages on missions, but one is especially well received, so I use it often on visitation. A church in Pretoria helped us by copying the message onto one thousand CD’s and mailing them throughout southern Africa. The first ten minutes is a brief report of our work and the associates we need. We have had several responses as a result of their effort and are thankful for the exposure that church has given us.
In July I also attended a nationwide family conference supported by Reformed Evangelical churches throughout South Africa. Besides preaching the opening message, the organizers gave me an hour one afternoon to present a missionary report. The leaders made a special effort to give the ministry good exposure, for which I am most grateful. During the conference I got to visit with Christians from many parts of the country and from many professions, including health care providers and church workers. Pray that God will in time use these contacts to provide the partners we need in the Nampula ministry.
U.S. Visitation: The end of October we will be starting our oft-delayed States-side visitation. We are scheduled to visit 27 churches in 27 Sundays, beginning in Southern California and traveling east and north the length and breadth of the U.S., finishing up in Ontario in May. Our route and schedule is posted on our website, so if you see we are in your vicinity and you or your church would like a visit, please contact us.
Visitors from Home:
The guest house is not fully furnished yet, but it is getting there and looking nicer all the time. Since we were unable to crank up long-term construction on the hospital because of visitation programs and the need to maintain various ministries single-handedly, there was time to supervise some small landscaping projects to combat erosion ‚Äì putting in roads, curbs, grass, and drains. The cosmetic results surprised us. The residential section of the property not only functions better but looks much nicer.
We were glad for the improvements when hosting a succession of 22 guests in July and August. Constantia Park Baptist Church in Pretoria sent Bev Rowland during the Pastors’ Conference to organize and run the bookshop. Her husband Rod is a professional handyman, and he helped with setting up the conference and doing several jobs at home I could not have found time for myself. Community Bible Church from Nashville sent college student Ashley Myers to catch up on all the recordkeeping and number crunching for the bookshop. While they were here, we also hosted the five leaders and speakers for the Pastors’s Conference. As soon as the conference ended, the Nashville church sent a further delegation of 14 people, including the two pilots who ferried them the last 1500 miles. The team was coming to help during the pastors’ conference, but a strike by the airline company delayed their arrival by a week.
The family reveled in all the attention. Julie was busy as hostess, which is the thing that makes her happiest. The kids enjoyed all the activities and served as translators for many of them. For several days we had 23 people staying in the guest house, sleeping in beds and eating at tables; and the residence seemed to accommodate them all without strain. And our cabinet-maker has seven more beds yet to complete! Having so many visitors was fun, and we are keen to have even more.
Besides all the cargo the team transported free of charge cartons of Bibles and hymnals; all the equipment for showing evangelistic films; conference supplies; and a whole pantry-full of chocolate chips, snacks, seasonings, flavorings, and other treats that don’t exist in Nampula ‚ we also benefited from the expertise of some of the members.
Byron Yawn preaching at missionary fellowship.
Pastor Byron Yawn preached at the English-speaking expatriate worship service. We appreciated the talents of the music minister, Jamin Dunn, who was a special encouragement to the aspiring musicians in our family.
Susan Barrett from CBC with children from orphanage Susan Barrett and Sharon Blaze stayed on several days to computerize our bookshop records and all the finances for Grace Missions in Mozambique, probably the single greatest advance we have made in many years and one which would never have happened left to my own abilities. Emily VanDam, one of the single girls, offered to return as our secretary for six months, and the church has since undertaken to send her. So we have ample reason to hope for more visits from church teams wanting to find out what they can do to help on the mission field!
Jamin Dunn concert at the orphanage
Despite the confusion caused by the airline strike, the trip apparently succeeded from CBC’s perspective as well since they are scheduling a repeat visit next year.
If you want to organize a similar experience, here are some opportunities that were scheduled, though many were cancelled when the team arrived a week late:
1) Making evangelistic presentations in various neighborhoods during the day, using our troop carrier as a mobile stage.
2) Conducting outdoor evangelistic film showings in the evenings.
3) Taking an overnight trek into the bush to visit a rural African church.
4) Painting classrooms and dormitories at two evangelical orphanages.
5) Doing construction work at the Baptist Bible school.
6) Serving on kitchen, nursery, bookshop, and clean-up crews at the Pastors’
7) Attending our worship services, Bible classes, and youth meetings.
8) Leading worship and preaching at the Nampula English-speaking expatriate worship service.
9) Attending African worship services.
10) Traveling into the mud hut neighborhoods to visit the homes of our church leaders.
11) Shopping in the central market.
12) Visiting the bookshop, observing our various ministries, and touring Nampula from the troop carrier.
Troop carrier with cargo and passengers
13) Visiting local orphanages and health clinics.
14) Taking a scenic tour through rural Africa atop our troop carrier.
Presentation of traditional African dance and song
15) Enjoying evening campfires, group devotions, and stories of God’s grace in missions.
Some of the aviation enthusiasts were scheduled to accompany the MAF pilot on a long, low altitude cross-country flight.
Local pastors arranged special performances of African church choirs, traditional men’s and women’s dance teams, and musicians playing traditional African instruments. The last day we sponsored a crafts fair on the mission property where the team bought curios made by local artisans, and that night they enjoyed a farewell dinner at a tropical outdoor restaurant.
We thank God for granting us the friends, facilities, and equipment necessary to offer this experience. We often wonder at all the Lord has provided, but this visit from our first church team caused us to understand better His purposes in so richly supplying Grace Missions with these resources. We are hoping to host more mission groups; and as happened in this case, we imagine those visits will redound to our benefit!
In closing this report, we again thank our many supporters for your prayers and help. Your interest and faithfulness undergird these ministries and make them fruitful. Besides the various ministries to Mozambicans, we can now offer a service to those who have supported us so long. Community Bible Church has been one of our strongest supporters from the beginning. They helped send me to Angola as a medical student in 1977 and have been supplying our needs ever since. We were glad to host them; but as the ministries associated with Grace Missions multiply, pray that God would provide the colleagues and resources needed to sustain them.
By His grace,
Charles and Julie Woodrow