July 2006 Newsletter

Dear Friends:

Grace Missions Newsletter – July 2006 – by Charles Woodrow

Hello from Nampula, Mozambique. We have interrupted our visitation time in the States so I could return to Nampula to host the seventh annual FIEL conference in Mozambique. These are nationwide conferences sponsored by Editora Fiel (“Faithful Publishers” in Portuguese), a Brazilian-based publishing house that translates excellent Banner of Truth style books into Portuguese, publishes them, and then distributes them throughout the Portuguese-speaking world, which includes Mozambique.

In addition to the publishing ministry, Editora Fiel distributes these books free of charge to select pastors. If a pastor can show that he reads, understands, and benefits from the literature through correspondence with the publishers, he will receive one free book a month for 36 months, at the end of which time he has the nucleus of an excellent theological library. This is a real boon to the pastors here, where until a few years ago there were no Christian bookstores at all and Christian literature was almost impossible to obtain. Even today, we know of only two Christian bookstores in the entire country, one of which is ours in downtown Nampula. The next nearest one is 1500 miles away.

Editora Fiel has had at times over 400 pastors from around the world on their free book program, and presently there are 55 pastors from Mozambique benefiting from this ministry. We can never express the extent of our gratitude to Richard and Pearl Denham, Reformed Baptist missionaries to Brazil for over 50 years and the founders of this exceptional faith ministry.

Besides the book ministry, Editora Fiel also hosts annual pastors’ conferences in Brazil, Mozambique, Portugal, and Angola. Karl Peterson organizes the Mozambique conference from South Africa. I have the privilege of being the host missionary as the conferences are held here in Nampula where I have been promoting this literature since the beginning of our ministry 16 years ago.
The purpose of the four day conference is to refresh the spirits of God’s servants, to better equip them for ministry, and especially to acquaint them with the doctrines of grace and the rich legacy left us by the Reformation fathers. Our speakers this year are Conrad Mbewe, gifted African pastor from Zambia, and Adauto Lourenço, creation scientist and Bible scholar from Brazil.

Please pray for these meetings which will get underway on 25 July. Pray that God will grant unction to the speakers as they preach and that He will open the eyes and hearts of the listeners to behold the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

Usually we have 150-160 pastors, church workers, and wives at the conference. They come from 30-40 different denominations and from eight of Mozambique’s ten provinces. Last year we had over 180 participants register for the conference. Registrations this year are running ahead of last year, with 155 received already.

What draws these men from such diverse church and geographical backgrounds is the opportunity to buy excellent Christian literature. We bring in thousands of dollars worth of books sold to us by Editora Fiel at only 20-50% of their usual cost, which we then put on sale at one third of our cost. This year we spent $10,000 on our book order, which means it will cost us nearly $7000 by the time all are sold. The conference is provided free by Editora Fiel to the 55 pastors on the reading program, the rest pay $10.00 each, though total cost for the conference historically has been about $100 per pastor.

Editora Fiel, Karl Peterson, and myself rejoice to bear this cost; we see it as a rich opportunity. Because there is no money to be made selling books to impoverished Mozambicans, we have a corner on Christian literature here. If Mozambicans want Christian books, they must get them from us! Therefore they have no opportunity to acquire a taste for froth, man-centered teaching, watered-down doctrine, Christian psychology, or other emanations from western pop Christian culture. We thank God for this opportunity to influence the church in Mozambique for good and to have the ear of all serious-minded pastors seeking to study their Bibles, to consult Christian literature, and to teach His truth to others.

To sponsor a pastor in the free literature distribution program, you can contact the Denhams at Christian Literature Advance, PO Box 4645, Greenville SC 29608. To help me with our expenses in this ministry, which come to $22,000 per year for the FIEL conference and seminar, the bookstore, and book subsidies, please designate your contributions to Grace Missions for “FIEL ministries.”

As I write we are nine days away from the conference and much remains to be done. I am thankful Devin Smith from our home church is here with me. He is helping with many of the details and will be running the book room during the conference. My conference work is complicated by the fact that immediately afterward I will be leading a 60 hour, one week seminar on systematic theology for 20 select pastors from the program. That material had to be organized before turning attention to the conference work.

In addition, Adauto Lorenço, our creation scientist, has agreed to come five days early to lead four city-wide meetings open to believers and unbelievers on science and the Bible. Even in underdeveloped Mozambique, evolution, life arising from non-life, and the self- creation of the universe are taught in all the schools as scientific dogma not to be questioned, even though each of these things are contradicted by science. Church-going students are assured that the Bible is merely a collection of myths not to be taken seriously. It is doubtful that any of the students have ever heard a scientist challenge these unfounded assertions, or have any idea this can be done on scientific grounds. Please pray for these meetings, the preparations for which are proving much more time consuming than I anticipated.

We are further hindered by the fact that we are running nearly two weeks behind schedule. I returned to Mozambique alone, leaving the family in California. To keep our separation as brief as possible I planned my timetable to allow the minimum number of days necessary to get all the work done. However, Devin and I were held up five days in South Africa as preparations there took twice as long as expected. We had our own supplies to get back to Nampula as well as a truckload of personal belongings from a fellow missionary who had just recently moved from Johannesburg to Nampula and needed the use of our truck. It had been waiting in Johannesburg since last October when we used it to haul our wrecked Land Rover and baggage the 1700 miles we had to travel to catch our flight out of Africa.

This trip we lost an additional four days from delays en route related to breakdowns in the bush and the inevitable customs gauntlet at the border. Those trials are almost to be expected, but being the eternal optimist I had not planned for them. The result is that we have been nearly two weeks behind schedule from the time we got started here in Nampula.

For those interested in African travelogues, the report of our trip and the status of our 17 year old Land Rover are attached at the end of this narrative.
We were grateful to find everything and everyone well on our arrival home in Nampula and are looking forward to the conferences and seminars coming up during the next few weeks.

Eventually I must give an update on our States-side visitation since my last letter written in April. Our hearts are filled with praise to God for the work He is doing in the many sound church ministries we have been exposed to, and we thank Him for the privilege we have of knowing so many choice saints, some of whom were familiar, even legendary names to us before, but now have become personal friends. What a blessing our visitation time has been!

After visitation ended and we had given up nearly all hope, we had some breakthroughs toward meeting two of our financial needs which I must share as well in a future letter. Only a few hours after those developments I was contacted by an officer in an organization that provides funds for hospitals and orphanages in Africa. He heard of us through a friend who attended one of our presentations last November. Our literature was forwarded to him and he contacted me in May. After interviewing me over the phone he said he would like his organization to help us get well along on our construction program. The entire board will meet in another month or two at which time they will consider our project. Please join us in praying that this might be the financial breakthrough we have been praying for.  It is time to get this hospital built!
More news will come in a later letter. In closing, I ask you to pray for God’s blessing upon the upcoming city-wide evangelistic meetings on science, creation, and the Bible; for His undertaking in the pastors’ conference; for His enabling in the follow-on seminar in systematic theology; for His provision of finances for the many expenses associated with these ministries; and especially for those board members who will soon be considering a contribution toward construction of the hospital.

By His grace: Charles Woodrow
Land Rover Update: I was amazed at the good job Dirk Van den Brink, our mechanic and Christian brother in South Africa did getting our aging Land Rover rebuilt. It made the trip back to Nampula ok, though we had two breakdowns with seized up wheel bearings that cost us two days of travel time. Both cases may have been caused by tightening the wheel bearings too much in an effort to reduce wobble in the wheels which I presume resulted from damage in its crash landing when the suspension broke last October and we went out of control, sailing over an embankment on a curve in the road. However, the Land Rover runs fine around town and we are glad we can still count on it for local service.

We trust the 17 year old vehicle will get us by until we have raised all the funds needed for a new Land Rover. We now have $15,000 toward the $35,000 a new one will cost.

African Travelogue: We left Johannesburg about 10:00 p.m. Monday night, expecting to drive all night and reach the Mozambique border at 5:00 a.m. This was necessary as we knew it would take all the next day to cross the border due to customs hassles getting the rebuilt Land Rover back into Mozambique together with the truckload of household goods we were carrying in the Bedford for our missionary friend.

However, about midnight one of the Land Rover’s front wheels seized up suddenly, destroying the tire and causing the vehicle to swerve out of control. Devin, who was driving at the time, was able to avoid an accident in part due to the fact that the heavy trailer the Land Rover was pulling kept the car from going broadside and flipping over. We had to get towed back to Johannesburg, finally arriving at 4:30 in the morning. We were just thankful to God everything was still relatively intact and we were alive to fight another day!

We slept for about six hours while the Land Rover was being repaired and then started out again at 10:00 p.m. that night, Tuesday. As planned, we got to the Mozambique border at 4:00 a.m. Wednesday and took 12 hours just crossing it because of all our goods and equipment. We got to the capital, Maputo, that night, where we were delayed 24 hours while the load in the Bedford truck was processed through customs.

We finally departed for Nampula, still 1500 miles away, at 5:00 pm on Thursday. At about 2:00 a.m., a rear wheel bearing on the Land Rover packed up and we were stranded again, this time in the wilderness. At 5:00 a.m. I drove the truck into the nearest town, about two hours away, and got a new set of bearings which our mechanic/motorist put on there beside the road. Around 1:00 pm Friday afternoon we were underway again.

At 11:00 pm the truck trailer tire went flat and our truck driver didn’t know it. We knew it because we were driving behind him in the Land Rover, but the single lane, one-way dirt road we were traveling on at the time was so narrow for six miles that we could not move over far enough to even flash him with our lights and he could not hear our horn over the din of the truck engine. By the time we were able to alert our motorist the tire was smoking, completely destroyed, and he was driving on the rim. We spent three hours in the darkness getting the tire changed – it is a big job changing a truck tire in the middle of the night on a dirt track in the wilderness. Our truck driver/mechanic was no use to us at this point, having succumbed to malaria. African immune systems are continuously fighting off malaria, but when fatigue or secondary illness sets in, the malaria gains the upper hand. We started treatment and put him to bed for the rest of the trip.

We were finally underway again at 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning. Then another one of the truck tires began flying apart. At this point we had no spares and were only half way to Nampula, so we had to detour to a town 55 miles off our course where we spent an unplanned $750 buying two new tires for the truck and trailer. We had to scour all our pockets and bank books to come up with that much cash. Then we had to mount the tires ourselves as they don’t do that for you here, though precisely because of that fact we had our own mechanic with us and all the tools for mounting a truck tire on the rim. However, that was another delay of seven hours, so by the time we got to the Zambezi River it was evening and the ferry was not running. We had to spend the night there, then crossed about noon on Sunday. The rest of the trip was uneventful though arduous. We covered the remaining 400 miles in about 15 hours and got home to Nampula at 3:30 a.m. on Monday, one week after leaving Johannesburg.
When all goes well, the 1700 mile journey takes 48 hours of non-stop driving, with the motorist and me taking shifts behind the wheel. We much prefer that to prolonging the experience finding places to bed down every night! There are no Holiday Inns, no roadside restaurants, no bathrooms, and for one 500 mile stretch there are not even fuel stations.

This time the trip took an entire week, stopping only for breakdowns, customs hassles, and the ferry crossing. The record for us is two weeks. That time we had three vehicles and two trailers, every one of which had a major breakdown in the wilderness, and we spent a week just crossing the border and clearing our goods through customs.

It is a standing joke in our family that the longest part of our trip home each furlough is the ride to the airport! We could fly directly from Nampula, but the cost of getting the whole family from Nampula to Johannesburg almost doubles the air fare we would have to pay for getting to the States. On the other hand, that might be cheaper than the repairs we have had to make to our aging Land Rover the past two trips!

June 2006 Update from Charles Woodrow

Dear Friends:

Quick update from Charles Woodrow – June 20, 2006

The family has finished visitation, at least for a while, and I am en route to Nampula to host this year’s annual FIEL conference for pastors and church workers. You should receive a report soon written about two months ago updating you on our visitation experiences up to that point.

At present, Julie and the kids are in Nevada with her parents, then they will spend about five weeks with our home church, Faith Community Church in Oxnard, California. We will join up again in mid August to resume church visitation which will end for good 17 October.

I am in Johannesburg buying supplies for the Nampula conference and then will be traveling on to Mozambique later this week. Please pray for an uneventful journey this time! We have to get both our truck and Land Rover across the border, the former loaded with some household belongings of a fellow missionary in Nampula. Please pray that we get across the border without undue trouble. We will be pleased if we can successfully step from South Africa into Mozambique consuming only 8 hours in the process!
The wrecked Land Rover and trailer have been made operational again, though they are not the hardy specimens they were before the accident. All three axels were either replaced or straightened and rebuilt. The frame was cut in many places, straightened, and then welded together again, along with corresponding work to make the crumpled body fit the corrected skeleton. Please pray that the weakened vehicles will stand up to the 1700 mile trek through Mozambique’s wilderness.

We are still hoping to buy a new Land Rover to replace our 17 year old model. The last two trips to South Africa have each cost over $3000 in repairs due to breakdowns from fatigue that then resulted in major damage, the first time to the engine, the second time to the frame and body when the car went out of control and crashed. So far we have received $10,000 toward the $37,000 a new Land Rover will cost. Please pray that we may soon be able to get a reliable replacement for our present car.

The main reason for this notice, however, is to solicit your prayers for the upcoming conference. Karl Peterson has been working for some time arranging a good program for the participants, and now I must get all the local preparations done by 19 July. The conference runs 25-28 July, with a follow-on training seminar from 31 July to 5 August.

Please pray for:

  1. The border crossing later this week (23 June) to be accomplished smoothly.
  2. The vehicles to make it safely to Nampula.
  3. Funds to be provided to obtain a new Land Rover.
  4. God to draw the right pastors and chuch leaders to the conference.
  5. Messages to stir hearts, strengthen hands, and sharpen minds for increasingly effective church work in Mozambique.
  6. My preparations to make the conference a welcome period of spiritual enjoyment and physical refreshment rather than a time to “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

By His grace: Charles Woodrow

January 2006 The Woodrows’ Transportation Needs

From: Henry J. Heijermans, Interim Director Grace Missions Ministries
Date: January 15, 2006

Life in Mozambique presents enormous challenges the likes of which most of us only read about. In fact, that’s exactly what we all did a few weeks ago when we received Kent Woodrow’s splendid account of the family’s hair-raising experiences as they drove from Nampula to South Africa to catch a flight to the States. What a story!

Although all the Woodrows remained unhurt and all is well, we can’t say this for their means of transportation.

A new Landrover is a must. This sturdy vehicle has served its purpose since 1989, probably even beyond expectations. But now it must be replaced.
We have investigated the various options before us in this respect. It appears that once again the best arrangement is to order a new Landrover in Great Britain and have it shipped to Mozambique. Currently the basic cost of this automobile is about $37,000 plus shipping.

On behalf of our Grace Missions team, I request that you prayerfully consider what part you may be able to play in meeting this vital need. We shall be most thankful for your participation in this project. Please designate the respective contribution accordingly: Mozambique Landrover Project and as usual send it to Grace Missions, PO Box 34531 San Antonio, TX 78265.

Thank you very much for your gracious generosity. Gratefully yours in Christ, Henry J. Heijermans, Interim Director

December 2005 Mozambique Evangel (Vol. 21 – No. 3)

(Because of Charles’ busy visitation schedule, Kent has been asked to prepare this month’s newsletter.)

Dear friends,

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

“But You, O Lord, are a shield about me…I lay down and slept; I awoke for the Lord sustains me. I will not be afraid…” (Psalm 3: 3, 5-6a)

These verses captured my attention during personal devotions this morning, and there are none better to describe our predicament the dawn of October 11.

It was 4:30 am on yet another jaunt across Mozambique in our trusted Landrover. We were only on the first leg, about eight hours from Nampula, driving across a stretch of the Mozambican “highway” infamous for innumerable and sometimes gargantuan potholes. As one native pastor put it, on this stretch it was no longer a matter of how to avoid potholes but rather of choosing the ones you preferred to crash into. However, as we were accustomed to the constant jolts, everyone was asleep except for Marques, our driver, until suddenly with a deafening bang the Landrover’s entire frame began to violently buck and heave. Several heads met the vehicle’s roof, and everyone was thrown into alarmed wakefulness as the vehicle shuddered to a stop. After the initial confusion of ensuring in the darkness that no one was hurt, it finally dawned on us that we had survived a serious accident!

We stepped outside to survey the damage, and our fears were confirmed. Our trusty Landrover was clearly down for the count. At a curve in the road it had careened straight ahead, sailing over a six foot drop off the built-up shoulder, crashing into the bush, and finally coming to rest in a freshly tilled field. As the front end hit the earth, the chasse folded into a flattened V shape, the front axle broke, and the front differential cracked open. In flight our one-ton trailer struck a termite hill and spun one and half times about its rotary tongue. When the car suddenly decelerated on impact, the trailer pitched upward and forward against the back of the truck, puncturing a hole in the accessory fuel tank mounted on the roof, drenching everything in diesel fuel. The trailer axle also had broken.

After questioning the driver as to the cause of the accident, we learned that the car had struck a pothole, probably the billionth our sixteen-year-old Landrover had acquainted over the years, and thereafter could not be steered. The crater was strategically located at a bend in the road such that the forward momentum of the car propelled us straight ahead, off the road and into the bush.

So we were stranded thirty minutes to an hour from the nearest town, and yet the faithful, protecting hand of God was clearly evident in all that took place.
Just a few weeks prior to our leaving, my dad devised and had our welder construct a new seating arrangement which included six upholstered back seats with seatbelts. Previously on trips we traveled with the six passengers in the cargo area lying or sitting on a cushioned board the size of a double bed. For sixteen years, despite the numerous dangers of the African roads, the Lord preserved us from any major collisions and now, before our first large-scale accident, He in His sovereign grace ordained that for the first time ever we should each be fully protected with seatbelts, shoulder harnesses, and proper seats which no doubt kept us from serious injury. Instead of crashing into dense trees, God appointed that we should depart the road at one of the rare stretches of tilled farmland. Also, the car had not rolled, which the driver informed me might well have occurred had he forced the damaged vehicle to follow the curve in the road. Looking back at the wake of destruct
ion caused by the car as we hurtled through the bush, I marveled that we had not received or inflicted even more damage. Much could have happened to make the situation far worse, and we cannot help but see the Lord’s shielding hand. The Lord is good; a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him. Nahum 1:7. How comforting this promise is to His children in distress.

When things go wrong in the bush of Africa, there are no AAA clubs, no cell phone networks, no tow services, no auto dealerships, and no ambulances or hospitals. You are on your own to provide all those services as best you can, and how much you need God’s help! Since we were only thirty minutes from a small town, Dad was able to hail a passing bus to Nampula, hoping to return with our Bedford truck and load the wrecked vehicles onto its bed, then continue the trip to South Africa. The rest of us stayed with the Landrover and trailer. As usual, within minutes of the accident, a crowd of Mozambicans gathered; and even as the sun rose to high noon and the summer heat was at its highest, they did not lose interest in us. They were very hospitable offering their manioc root as food and lending us bamboo mats to sit on under the shade of a tree.

Meanwhile, once Dad reached Nampula, word of our misfortune began spreading through the missionary community. Our friends bought tickets for the entire family to complete the journey using the local MAF plane, and a missionary with Wycliffe translators drove sixteen hours to bring us passengers back to Nampula. After 24 hours without sleep, my dad finally reached the accident scene again, this time in the Bedford. With hired help from the natives, he was able to load the Landrover and trailer onto the truck. The road was six feet above the surrounding land, and the bed of the truck was five feet high; so the motorist was able to back the truck almost flush against the roadbed taking advantage of a concrete culvert strategically carved out right at the accident site. Wounded as it was with bent frame, broken axle, cracked differential, and splayed front wheels, the Landrover still climbed the steep incline onto the road, wheels and axle groaning and squealing the whole way, and then descended onto the bed of the truck. The trailer was emptied and ten strong Africans hoisted it onto the truck. The fully loaded four-wheel-drive military troop carrier then lumbered up the bank, and after 36 hours all our equipment was back on the road.

Rather than return home, Dad opted to continue the trip with our driver despite the foreboding specter of hassles at the border. Taking the damaged Landrover with us was the only way we could reasonably hope to get the it repaired. In answer to fervent prayer, the customs officials on both sides of the border allowed the equipment to pass without the usual formalities that would have required a week to accomplish and which would have forced us to miss our flight to the States. After five arduous days driving over land, Dad was reunited with the rest of the family in Johannesburg, South Africa, one day before our scheduled flight to the States.

Oh, what a blessing it is to have brothers and sisters in Christ in a place so far removed as Mozambique! Yet greater by far is the Blessing that makes those from every tribe and nation one, binding us together in Him.

We are now in our second month of visitation and have been richly blessed by the people and fellowship of the many churches God has led us to. Our only regret is that we haven’t more time to spend with all the believers we have come to know and appreciate in each church. Many have shown an interest in Mozambique and the Lord’s work there. Please pray that in these eight months of travel the Lord will raise up the personnel needed to further His kingdom in Africa and especially that His name would be glorified through the proclamation of what He has already done in Nampula.

The Landrover that has served so faithfully the past decade and a half is now useless for making the strenuous trips down to Johannesburg. We will need another vehicle before visitation is over, so please remember this need in prayer as well.

Thank you for your continual prayers and support.

In His name,
Kent Woodrow

September 2005 Mozambique Evangel (Volume XX, No. 1)

Dear Friends:

For some of you it has been a long while since you last heard from us. In the future we will be relying more on e-mail communications and updates through our website. Click Media, Newsletters to access the most recent newsletters and articles.

Hospital Construction: Construction has not resumed since we completed the two sanitation blocks and built the foundation walls for the main building before furlough. The next stage is erecting the walls and putting on the roof; but before undertaking that, we must recruit additional helpers to assist with other ministries that also demand our attention.

Bookshop: The downtown bookshop has been in operation for two years now. It is the only Christian bookstore I know of in northern Mozambique, and it is a vital ministry. We keep over 500 titles in stock which the publishers graciously supply at huge discounts (up to 80% off the list price) because of the extreme poverty of most Mozambicans. I reduce that price even further, selling the books at less than our cost. Even then, few Mozambicans can buy them without making a sacrifice in other essential areas, so we also maintain a library where they may read the books for free. Throughout the week I offer Bible classes in the reading room of the bookshop. Several pastors who participated in the last FIEL conference are now attending the Thursday doctrine classes and are doing well on the homework assignments and tests.

Our shop is strategically located on the main street in the center of town, and we have a large sign advertising its existence; yet few local Christians realize there is a place in Mozambique, let alone their own city, where they can buy Bibles, hymnals, and Reformed evangelical literature written by men like Martin Lloyd-Jones, J.C. Ryle, J.I. Packer, A.W. Pink, Charles Spurgeon, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, and the Puritan fathers.

We are seeking a missionary associate to oversee this ministry, to publicize it among the Christian community, to expand its usefulness, and to handle the administrative work involved. The bookshop costs $500 a month for salaries and overhead, none of which is recovered from sales. Since January we have spent an additional $6,000 subsidizing the books that are bought, lifting our total outlay above $10,000 during eight months. Now you know why Christian bookshops do not exist in Mozambique! However, we believe this is a ministry the Mozambican church much needs, and as God enables we are committed to maintaining and even expanding the work. You are warmly invited to be a part of it!

FIEL Conferences: Since the last report, we have hosted two nation-wide pastors’ conferences for church leaders and their wives. Karl Peterson and I began these conferences six years ago because of the great lack among church leaders of instruction in the doctrines of salvation by grace through faith.
This ministry is carried out in conjunction with Editora FIEL (“Faithful Publishers”), a Brazilian publishing house that translates Evangelical Reformed literature into Portuguese and distributes it throughout the world. Karl handles publicity, organizes the program, and brings in the speakers who come from Africa, Europe, and North and South America. I handle the details involved in hosting the conference locally. We each cover the portion of expenses incurred by our respective responsibilities. Our speakers this year were Martin Holdt, international conference speaker from South Africa, and Josefá Vasconcelos, once a famous crusade evangelist known throughout Brazil. The conference was well-attended, with 180 men and wives registering and 75 out-of-town participants signing up for lodging at the conference grounds. Generally our participants come from 30-40 different denominations and 8 of Mozambique’s 10 provinces.

We have not yet analyzed the statistics from this year’s conference, but we expect they will show we continue to reach a diverse audience with the doctrines of grace. The need for these conferences is underscored by excerpts from the following testimonial offered by Matt Zook, a missionary with New Tribes Missions which has been extensively surveying the church in northern Mozambique for the past year. “The church in Mozambique is a mile wide and an inch deep, if we dare say even that.

On our survey we talked with many pastors. The two main shortages we found were: 1) the pastors themselves did not understand grace teaching, and 2) the pastors have very little written material to study. To illustrate the first point, I will show several of the responses that were characteristic of the church leaders to our doctrinal questionnaire to one of the most telling questions of all. After asking what the penalty for sin was and normally hearing death and hell, we asked if there was any way for man to avoid this punishment. Here are some answers: “One man, well churched and in charge of church relations for the translation of the Bible in his language, told us that to be saved, ‘a person must follow the commandments in the Bible.’ When asked which ones, he said, ‘the Ten Commandments.’ One elder (similar to what is called a pastor in the western setting) overseeing a large church told us that to be saved one must ‘stop being problematic, love others, help the poor, keep the Ten Commandments.’ These were given as examples, he said, as to be saved you have to obey everything in the Bible. Another elder of a church told us that to be saved people must ‘conform to the commands of Scripture, leave the evil ways, and follow the straight paths of God. It is also necessary to repent, keep the Ten Commandments, and love one another.’ He was the leader of a church with 95 members. “These are examples of the Christ-less and grace-less salvation message that is common everywhere here. Beyond that, these were not the answers of common people but of respected Christian leaders.
Every church leader with whom we talked mentioned the need for Bibles and Christian materials, an interesting request when it would be hard to concede that some of them were even believers. When we asked the church leader mentioned above with 95 members how many people in the church had Bibles he said ‘somos três’ – ‘We are three.’

“In contrast to these encounters stands one Mozambican pastor we met on the trip. He was very clear that salvation is possible only through the work of Christ on the cross. He was the first of two pastors or religious people that we met on the trip that said salvation came through faith in Jesus Christ instead of works of righteousness. No one else even mentioned the name of Jesus in regards to salvation. He was a pastor (pastor here usually means leader over many churches, as in his case). He said he was responsible for 60 churches and 1,600 people. There are 36 elders and 26 deacons working under him. ”Unlike other pastors who only have one translation and very few materials, he has several Portuguese Bible translations including the Geneva Study Bible. When I asked him how he got all his books and Bibles he said that some he got at Hephzibah, a Dutch Reformed Seminary in Mozambique, and others he obtained at the FIEL Pastors Conference in Nampula hosted by Dr. Woodrow. When I told him this year’s conference was happening the very week we were visiting together, he said he knew and wanted to go but did not have enough money. Registration costs $8.00, with meals and lodging provided free by the sponsors.” I hope this is an encouragement to those of you are praying for and supporting the ministry of Dr. Woodrow.

The need is great here and the impact of grace teaching and written materials, be they books or Bibles, have greatly blessed our lives. It is through ministries like Dr. Woodrow’s and that of FIEL publishers who send pastors a book free each month for 36 months and conduct an annual pastors’ conference in Nampula for church leaders from all over Mozambique that this message and these materials are continuing to bless people all over the world, even a pastor working in a place that to us seems to be close to the middle of nowhere in the Zambezi Province in Mozambique. “The cost of hosting the four day conference is significant – about $100 for each participant. I pay for the meeting facilities, transportation, food, and lodging which usually comes to $5000, though this year it was $4000. I have already reserved the facilities for next year’s conference. This time we plan to run for the leaders’ wives parallel, simultaneous meetings geared to their special needs and level of understanding. As we have reached the maximum seating capacity of our meeting hall, for the conferences to continue growing I hope to purchase a tent large enough to seat 300-350 people.

Pray that God would continue to provide the resources for this ministry and that He would lead us to someone qualified to work alongside Karl and me not only in organizing the conferences but also in assuming the responsibilities of the bookshop and some of Karl’s monthly workload in the book distribution program.

Post-conference Seminar: This year for the first time I offered a post-conference seminar for pastors who wished to stay on and take an intensive 6 day course in systematic theology. It ended up being the most satisfying event I have participated in during 15 years of ministry here. The annual conferences have been thrilling because of the good attendance and excellent speakers, but at the seminar it was gratifying to see men actually come to grips with salvation by grace through faith and all the ramifications the true gospel has in Christian doctrine and practice. The men studied 60 hours in six days, spending 25 hours in lecture, 15 hours in discussion, 15 hours doing homework, and 5 hours taking 13 tests. I limited enrollment to 20 men because of all the grading involved. I was up late each night checking about 100 homework papers and tests from the day, but the time spent grading was more than compensated for by the progress being made. There were some clear thinkers and spiritually mature men in the group, and in their case it was evident the conferences and books had plowed up the ground ahead of time. Others were just beginning to think Biblically. In every case it was rewarding, though two did not pass the course, and the men enthusiastically asked for a follow-on seminar.

I have kept the contact information for each of them and believe if I offered another seminar next month they would fill it several times over with their associates. For those who participate, the seminar is even more important than the conference. It is the conference, with its excellent speakers, good fellowship, and affordable (i.e., almost free) literature, that draws men from their respective districts and gives the seminar credibility and exposure. But in the seminar, they are compelled to interact with Scripture and to learn to think and preach Biblically. During the week the men looked at 500 Bible texts covering 24 doctrinal issues in 80 pages of handouts. Several mentioned the benefit they expected to derive just from having so many scripture portions to consult in upcoming sermon preparations. The seven highest scorers were awarded concordances or Geneva Study Bibles.

Total cost of feeding and lodging the men, providing the curriculum, and renting the facilities was $900 or $45 per participant. If we were not leaving the country to recruit the missionary help we need, I would soon offer a repeat seminar. However, under the circumstances, I will have to wait until the next conference to repeat the course.

Pray that God would continue to provide ways of maximizing the opportunities provided through the FIEL ministries here in Mozambique and that He would provide the human and material resources they require.

Conclusion: There is much more I need to report – family news; church work; testimonies and conversions; efforts to find eight missionary associates; field visits from supporters; changes made in Grace Missions; upcoming States-side church visitation; and a follow-up on the story about Faustino, our church member and beloved associate who was murdered while working in our bookroom. These things are covered in brief updates already prepared and available now on our website which others will receive month by month so they may have time to “read all about it.”

For the present, let me express our gratitude to those who have remembered us despite the dearth of news. I did prepare four reports in the past eight months, but for various reasons they could not be sent out. Your prayers and support are important to us, for without them we would not have these many ministries to tell about!

By His grace, Charles and Julie Woodrow

Correspondence excerpts from Charles Woodrow

The family is well, recovering from an exciting month with a house full of visitors the entire time. First, Constantia Park Baptist Church in Pretoria sent a couple to run the bookshop during the Fiel Bible conference. They were here for three weeks. Community Bible Church from Nashville sent one member of their team two weeks ahead of time to update all the administrative work for the book shop. Just before the conference we had all the speakers and leaders come (five people, including Martin Holdt, the pastor at Constantia Baptist Church in Pretoria), who stayed with us as well. As soon as the conference was over, the full Community Bible Church team arrived, 12 more people plus the two pilots who flew them from Johannesburg. That made 23 people living in the house. It was quite comfortable, and the CBC people said there were no inconveniences. We seated all 23 people at two very large dining room tables with room to spare, everyone slept in beds, and the four bathrooms seemed to be adequate. We still have seven beds to make, so our sleeping capacity could increase even further. The team got to all their appointments riding in the Bedford (the large transport truck) which we configured as a troop carrier, putting the frame and canvas over the bed. It was ideal for the job as they could see Nampula as if from a tour bus.

The CBC team arrived a full week late as their flights were cancelled due to a strike by South African Airlines that began two days before their expected departure from the States. So they were with us only four days. However, they had a good time, and the facilities were so suitable and the opportunities to minister and experience Africa so plentiful that they have determined to bring another team next year to take full advantage. It was the first time for us to host a large group since moving into the house, and it worked wonderfully. We are expecting to have many such experiences as word spreads about the good possibilities here.

For us, the great benefit was all the expertise these people brought with them, as well as the keen interest the visit has generated in their respective churches. The book shop ran well at the conference; and after the main CBC team left, two women stayed on to teach me to use Quicken and Excel for our finances and the bookshop respectively. They bought and installed the software, only a couple of the many “goodies” the team brought with them. So we are now fully computerized in both areas. That is a great leap forward, especially with the finances. The team also brought all our JESUS film equipment with them with no customs charged, as well as the hymnals, and there was no shipping cost involved.

The kids were thrilled to have so many friends on hand and joined in all the activities going on during the visits. They were the interpreters for most of them. The visitors toured two orphanages, visited our worship services, led the Missionary Fellowship service on Sunday evening, visited the museum of African culture, traveled into the barrios to visit the homes of some of our church leaders, went to the local scenic sights, hiked in the bush, bought African curios at the flea market, toured Nampula and local environs from the troop carrier, and had their last dinner at a nice outdoor restaurant. They were scheduled to run the kitchen at the conference and do two work projects at the orphanages, but those had to be canceled when their flight was delayed and the trip shortened. The people who arrived before the conference helped with the nursery, kitchen, and book shop. The group from CBC had planned to do a short concert at various locations around town with the pastor preaching an evangelistic message and other team members giving testimonies, but that also had to be canceled from lack of time. We had the generator and sound system for all that, as well as the truck, but we’ll have to try out that ministry the next time.

The Fiel conference continues to improve every year. We now have four local missionary families running it as well as the team from Editora Fiel in Brazil and a missionary from South Africa. We have already planned and scheduled the next conference, and it should be even better. Among other things, we plan to host a parallel conference for pastors’ wives which will be entirely planned for their benefit.

This year we had 190 people signed up to attend, though not all of them made it. Seventy- four out-of-town leaders signed up to live at the conference site the entire time, with the others staying with friends in town or in their own homes. People from all over are now calling the conference the most significant ministry going on to the church at large in Mozambique. We have had that conviction from the beginning, and I think we are only beginning to see the potential it has. The New Tribes missionaries, who have entered Mozambique in the past year, have traveled the length and breadth of northern Mozambique doing surveys. They say everywhere they go the evangelical leaders are virtually unanimous in telling them salvation comes through keeping the law. However, one New Tribes missionary returned last week quite excited. In the middle of the bush in the province to the south of us they came across a pastor serving a mudhut congregation who vigorously denied salvation by works, insisting rather that it was a miraculous work of grace accomplished by God in the hearts of His elect. He also had a respectable little library and a Geneva study Bible. When they asked him where he got his books, he said he got them from attending the Fiel Conferences. The missionaries were so encouraged to find that little oasis of truth in the midst of such spiritual darkness amongst professing evangelical leaders they looked me up on their return to Nampula to let me know.

The post-conference systematic theology seminar I led was perhaps the most satisfying event I have participated in during my entire time in Mozambique, though the conferences are thrilling because of the good attendance and excellent speakers. I limited enrollment in the seminar to 20 men and filled every space, turning others away. They studied 11 hours a day for five days and a half day on Saturday, 25 hours of classroom lecture, 15 hours of discussion, 15 hours of homework and five hours of test-taking (13 tests). I was up late every night grading about 100 homework or test papers each day. But it was a rich experience seeing the men come to grips with salvation by grace through faith and all the ramifications of the true gospel. There were some good thinkers and spiritual men in the group, and for those men it was clear the conferences and books had plowed up the field ahead of time. Others were just beginning to think Biblically. But in every case it was a rewarding experience, and the men enthusiastically called for a follow-on seminar. I have kept the contact information for each of them, and I believe if I offered another seminar next month they would sign up two or three times the number of men we had this time, though I limit the conference to 20 because of all the grading I have to do. I believe this ministry is even more crucial than the conferences because here the men are compelled to interact with scripture and learn to think and preach Biblically. We looked at many hundreds of Bible texts, all of which were part of their handouts. Several mentioned the benefit they expected to derive from having so many scripture portions to refer to in their sermon preparations.

Before the FIEL conference I attended the Skogheim conference. I much appreciated the messages of the other men whom I was grateful to get to know personally. Besides preaching the opening message, the organizers gave me an hour to present a missionary report on Sunday afternoon. I got to make good friends from churches all over South Africa and visited with some good missionary prospects. The leaders seemed to go out of their way to give the Nampula ministry plenty of exposure. I trust we will be able to capitalize on that in future visitation times, though so far it has been easy already to get into South African churches, far easier than in the States. South Africa may be a better place for recruiting missionaries for Mozambique anyway.

As for the kids, they are staying active in the church youth ministry and in the missionary youth ministry. Kent and Sarah are progressing well with both piano and guitar. I bought Kent the software to put his music on the computer and he is getting proficient with that. He has a number of compositions. They really enjoyed having the music minister from CBC here, who is an excellent performer and solid Christian.

Julie was busy being hostess this past month. That is what makes her happiest, though she says in the future we need to hire a cook. We can easily do that as we have several working already during the conferences and seminars. Her pantry is well stocked with salad dressings, chocolate chips, snacks, flavorings, and all the other “loot” the visitors bring with them.
The guest house isn’t fully furnished yet, but it is getting there and looking nicer and nicer all the time. The grounds are also in nice shape. We often wonder at all the Lord has given us to enjoy, but the past month has caused us to understand better why God has so richly provided all the resources that have come through Grace Missions. We are hoping to host many more mission groups and expect that will redound to our benefit.
On a side note, Faustino’s murderer was convicted and sentenced to 22 years in jail, 24 years being the maximum penalty.

Charles Woodrow