Thank God for a nation where the government works to advance democracy, and economic and religious freedom. Multiple elections have been held since the end of the vicious civil war in 1992. Years of suffering led to spiritual responsiveness. After harsh persecution under the Marxist-oriented regime, Christian faith spread rapidly. There are great opportunities for fruitful ministry in most of the country. Mozambique was highly unevangelized, but now many people from all faiths and regions have begun to follow Christ!
Mozambique enjoys religious freedom for the first time in its history. Catholicism dominated under the Portuguese. Then, under Marxism, all Christians suffered. Missionaries were expelled, Christian leaders intimidated and imprisoned. Many churches were destroyed during this period. Many people died for their faith, but growth came as a result of their sacrifice. Pray that this freedom might continue and that true Christian faith and love might be expressed throughout society.
The spiritual responsiveness of Mozambicans is one result of the suffering and deprivation endured. Congregations of indigenous Christians mushroomed all across the country. Evangelicals were 3.5% of the population in 1975 and grew to 12% by 2005. Natural disasters in 2000/01 and 2006/07 stimulated much Christian assistance, and churches were planted in refugee camps. Isolation, due to past anti-Christian governments and poverty, means that much of Mozambican church practice is genuinely indigenous. But massive growth also presents proportionally huge challenges: ignorance of biblical teaching and standards, syncretism and legalism. Fortunately, the church is also characterized by an eagerness to learn. Pray for growth in maturity and truth that matches growth in numbers - without forsaking cultural authenticity.
Theological Education by Extension is absolutely crucial when travel is difficult, money tight and existing schools already stretched. TEE, mobile training and correspondence courses are spreading throughout the country (PAoC, AIM, SIM, Baptist, Nazarenes, Emmaus Bible School of the Brethren). Radio is a natural medium for this concept and TWR is building on its already substantial work in this area.
Unreached peoples are still more concentrated in Mozambique than anywhere else in southern Africa. But this is rapidly changing, since many are responding to outreach. Most existing outreach is through Mozambican missionaries and pastors. Challenges for prayer include:
- The Makhuwa. Mostly Catholic-animistic (interior), Muslim (coastal) or a mix thereof, these six northern peoples represent nearly 40% of Mozambique's population. There is a remarkable ingathering of Makhuwa into the Kingdom as a result of preaching, aid and miracles. Iris Ministries, Churches of Christ/Christian Churches, AIM, IMB, NTM and others work among them. Pray for the many thousands of new believers to become solid disciples in biblical churches.
- The Yao of Niassa Province, along the shores of Lake Malawi, are 96% Muslim. Only about 2% are Christian of any kind (mainly Anglican, Catholic and Assemblies of God, African). Many Christian resources are available (GRN, the JESUS film, radio, literature) and several groups work among them.
- Other northern/coastal Muslim peoples, Islamized centuries ago by Swahili traders (Mwani, Koti, Makwe, Swahili, Ngoni, Makua-Mwinika). These may be the least responsive of Mozambique's peoples. Bible translation is in progress for Mwani, Koti, Ngoni and Makwe. NTM started work among Makua-Mwinika in Zambezia province.
- The animistic peoples of the Zambezi valley, especially the Sena, Tawara, Nyungwe, Lolo, Kokola, Manyawa, Marenje and Takwane. The Church among the Sena people is growing quickly in most areas.
Expatriate missionaries have a vital but sensitive role to play, particularly among the unevangelized. There is a great need for missionaries in this open and spiritually responsive country. Pray especially for these issues:
- Hard conditions such as travel difficulties, widespread disease, hot and humid weather, poor infrastructure, very active spiritual powers. A real calling is necessary in order to persevere. Workers must be willing to sacrifice and suffer as the national Church has done for decades.
- Relationships between missions and churches are often very fragile. Foreigners must learn to serve and truly partner with the national church where it exists; the spectre of colonialism must be avoided. Tribal languages must be learned, since only a minority understand Portuguese.
- Churches too often see foreign agencies as a cash cow to finance their every need. Money, being so scarce, can be a hugely divisive and destructive issue that needs to be handled with wisdom.The greatest needs are for all levels of leadership training, initiating youth and children's work, aid/relief, medical programmes and grassroots business development. Major mission agencies: Nederduitse Gereformeerde, NTM, SIM, YWAM, CruC, IMB, Convenção Das Igrejas.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.