We left our friends in Maputo and have come to Johannesburg, South Africa, where we are staying with my former student, Charlotte Moore. Charlotte heads up a ministry called “Turn the Tide for Children.” More about that later.
Our ten days in Maputo went by far too quickly, and leaving dear friends is never easy. Some final reflections about our experience in this very complex and challenging mission environment will hopefully help you get a picture of what the Church here faces. Mozambique’s history, like every country’s past, powerfully shapes its present. Mozambique has been described as post-colonial and post-communist. After generations of Portuguese colonial rule Mozambican rebels waged a successful war of liberation from their Portuguese masters. The Portuguese, like many colonial powers, seemed to have little concern for what they would leave behind as they drained Mozambique’s resources for their own benefit.
Unfortunately those who overthrew the Portuguese had drunk deeply from the well of military aid from communist countries like Cuba and the former U.S.S.R. Talk about jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Vestiges of communistic rhetoric and disarray are everywhere. Mozambique’s communist rulers proved to be just as inept and greedy as those of their communist friends. (Having lived in a communist country I can tell you first hand that the system creates little more than fiery rhetoric, a self-serving power structure, and moral bankruptcy.) Mozambique bears the scars of colonialism and communism. Actually, Mozambique still bears the open wounds of colonialism and communism: chronic poverty, endemic corruption, and a severely underdeveloped infrastructure. Frankly, the scope of needs in Mozambique can overwhelm you, if you allow it to do so.
The Christian must not give in to being overwhelmed by the scale of need in a place like this. No country, no society, no people group lies beyond the hope of the gospel.
Mozambique may be post-colonial and post-communist, but is it “post-hope”? The Christian must not give in to being overwhelmed by the scale of need in a place like this. No country, no society, no people group lies beyond the hope of the gospel. That’s why people like Isaias Uaene represent hope for this land. His vision to establish a school that will train generations of Mozambicans to transform this culture and this country refuses to be overwhelmed by the despair that surrounds it. Like so many places in sub-Saharan Africa, the Church in Mozambique is widely present, but woefully shallow. Isaias’ vision is to train not just pastors, but world-changers, men and women who will help transform this land. It takes courage to even dream like that.
So we’re off to South Africa, a place that lives out its apartheid history every moment of every day. Although the homelands and townships no longer exist officially as places of segregation, they do in the everyday lives of millions of South Africans. South Africa’s apartheid past is like a giant oak tree in the middle of your living room; you can’t go anywhere without having to deal with its presence. It seems that every conversation here has some reference to race and race relations. We’ll talk more about that in a future post.