Archive for April, 2013

Photo of our friends
April 21, 2013

I have mentioned several times that we spent time in Johannesburg in order to be with our friend Angeline and her daughter Melanie. At last I have a photo of them.

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Mandela House
April 19, 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013

As you recall, Nelson Mandela is a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician who was imprisoned for 27 years and later served as President of South Africa from 1994-1999. Prior to his arrest he lived with his family in Soweto, the township where blacks had to live; at that time they were not permitted to live with the whites in Johannesburg.

The Mandela house, once nearly destroyed, has been rebuilt and serves as an educational exhibit about the Mandela family and Nelson Mandela’s work.

Yesterday we visited the House.

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For many people the journey to freedom has indeed been a long road.

Thanks for joining me on my brief visit to South Africa.

A Church in Johannesburg
April 19, 2013

On April 17 we had lunch with two Brethren in Christ Church (BIC) leaders to learn about the churches in South Africa.

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On the right is Rev. Benedict Macebo, originally from Zimbabwe, pastor of the Hillbrow BIC Church here in Johannesburg, and also natioonal overseer for South Africa. On the left is Frank Nkala, South African, locksmith, lay leader at Hillbrow, and board chair for the general board of the BIC in South Africa.

The first BIC church planted in South Africa was near Pretoria, in 1991 or 19912. Now there are 16 churches, located in two of the nine provinces of the nation. The most recent new church was started last week in Cape Town – the third BIC church in that city.

After lunch the men took us to Hillbrow, a district of Johannesburg, to see the church building there. Scenes en route.

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Various scenes at the church, which is in process of construction.

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The attendance is about 1,000. You will note that the theme for the church is “Experiencing God’s Supernatural Provision.”

I trust that you will experience the same in your life.

A ministry to orphans
April 17, 2013

We are now in Johannesburg South Africa – specifically, in the district of Randburg. We are here to spend four days with our friend Angeline, and her daughter Melanie. Angeline is like a daughter to us. She is originally from Cameroon and now lives in in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she works for the United Nations. Melanie, age 16, attends a private school in Grahamstown, South Africa. Both of them flew to Johannesburg to spend these few days with us.

On April 16 we had a driver take us north of Pretoria to the Hammanskraal area to visit a ministry to orphans.

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Bethesda Children’s Village is a specific part of Bethesda Outreach Ministry.

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John Mixom, the director, originally from USA, told us about the Village. The staff includes workers who are black South Africans, white South Africans, and others from other nations. Placing orphans in homes, on the campus, with South African Christian parents makes this ministry different from other orphan centers.

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Here is a view of some of the homes.

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The work also includes Jubilane Christian Academy, where the Bethesda children and others from the surrounding community receive quality education.

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On hot days this traditional-style shelter is the coolest place on campus.

I came to Bethesda because one of our Brethren in Christ young adults in USA is planning to come here to serve as a teacher, so I thought that since I am this close, it makes sense to see the work first-hand.

We were impressed with the vision, core values and programs of this well-rounded ministry.

Discipleship Group
April 17, 2013

Global worker Steve Newcomer says that one of the gratifying parts of his ministry is the discipleship group he leads every Sunday afternoon for about 25 pastors and lay leaders, some of them Brethren in Christ and others from a variety of other churches. The group meets at the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) center in Beira (Mozambique).

The approach of the group is to do direct study of the Bible, especially inductive study, a method in which you let the Bible speak for itself instead of imposing your own assumptions on the text. You ask questions such as who, what, how and why? You study the original intent of the author and the meaning for the first listeners or readers. Then, at last, you consider how this might apply to us today, and what God is saying to us through this Scripture.

I went with Steve to the group on Sunday evening, April 14. This week there were 17 participants, 15 men and two women.

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On the wall of the MCC meeting room is an unusual item. A descriptive paper explains: This saxophone was created from former weapons by artisans in the Turning Weapons into Ploughshares Program (TAE in Portuguese). This program is coordinated by the Christian Council of Mozambique, which is MCC Mozambique’s longest-running partnership. MCC encourages the message of peace and hope which is central to TAE’s vision.

The Brethren in Christ Church is a member of MCC.

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In my Mozambique blogs I have often spoken about missionaries Steve and Chris Newcomer. At last I got a photo of them.

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The city of Beira is on the Indian Ocean, so I conclude with these beach scenes. Our churches hold baptisms at the beach. And Steve enjoys exploring the sand bar at low tide (the last photo above).

Thanks for following us around Mozambique.

Two churches in the city
April 16, 2013

On Sunday, April 14, we attended the service at the Passagem de Nevil Brethren in Christ Church in Manga, a district of Beira, Mozambique. This was a joint service with the Mascarenha Church from a different district of the city. The attendance was about 70.

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JoLene and Steve set up the items for Communion while the service had already begun with just a few people present. The people kept coming for an hour or more.

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There were many different singing groups – you see one in the photo above. I lost count as to how many groups there were. They sang and danced with joy and enthusiasm. One feature of the singing is that one of the women blows a whistle (a typical referee’s whistle) loudly.

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A layperson preached today. The young man in the red shirt interpreted into English. On the pulpit you will notice the Brethren in Christ emblem – cross, dove, and basin and towel. Admittedly, the colors are a bit faint.

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Here you see the six persons – all seemed to be young adults – who were baptized on Easter Sunday. They received Communion first today, before the rest of the congregation.

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Visiting after the service.

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Raimundo and Tanya Simango, the pastoral couple of the Passagem de Nevil Church.

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Lazaro Magiogio, pastor of the guest church today, the Mascarenha Church. He has also been recently appointed to be the superintendent of the churches. However, he was absent today because his father passed away suddenly yesterday.

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This is Pastor Zacarias  Maharange and his wife. He is the provincial pastor for the Sofala Province which has 14 Brethren in Christ churches.

We rejoiced in seeing many signs of vitality as we worshiped with the above two churches in their joint service today.

A Rural Church in Mozambique
April 14, 2013

On Saturday, April 13, we left at 5:00 AM with the Newcomers and three ministers and drove three and a half hours to a church in a remote area. The last part of the trip was on a footpath path through corn fields. The church members had hand-cut the grass to make a space wide enough for our vehicle.

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As we drove into the clearing where the church sits, the people sang joyous welcome songs.

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Here is the church building.

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The members had tidied up the whole area in anticipation of our coming.

This is the Guluja Brethren in Christ Church. They normally hold their service on Sunday, but today was a special day, with longer teaching and a meal. Members of the Makhambine Church joined them for this event. The people from Makhambine walked or bicycled ten miles to get here.

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The choir gathered outside the building and sang and danced their way in and then sang and danced to worship songs as the congregation sang along.

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Steve did teaching on the church in two morning sessions. Then we had dinner of chicken, goat, rice and stiff porridge made from white corn meal. Then there was an afternoon session.

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Steve had brought a large quantity of Bibles to be distributed to all who needed one. The Bibles were available in one of three languages: Portuguese, Ndau and Shona. Here you see Youngson Palibendipo (on the left), a missionary from Malawi to Mozambique, giving a Bible to a pastor.

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Following the close of the last service the people formed the traditional greeting line so that everyone gets to greet everyone.

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Here you see Pastor Fernando Meque and his wife Ardinha, the pastoral couple for the host church, Guluja.

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And here are Andrea Samuel and his wife Louisa, the pastoral couple of the visiting church, Makhambine.

When we got home after 7:00 PM – that is, after dark – we were exhausted, but also encouraged because we had seen healthy churches where the members worship God with enthusiasm and are eager to learn.

Scenes in Beira, Mozambique
April 13, 2013

Here is a walk through the city of Beira, where we are staying, to let you see a glimpse of life here.

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This building reminds be a bit of New Orleans, except that it lacks the wrought iron railing.

 

 

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I took this photo quickly from the car, hoping not to alarm or offend the woman. I think she saw what I was doing, but she was gracious and did not challenge me.

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Creative advertising, seen about town. Notice the familiar farm or yard equipment featured in the sign in the background. “The best for less.”

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Our Lady of the Rosary, Roman Catholic Cathedral.

I hope to be able to add some more scenes in a later post.

Birding in Mozambique
April 13, 2013

Our hosts, Steve and Chris Newcomer, are avid birders and have taken me out several times into several different settings. Then as part of the global workers’ retreat, many of us went on a two-hour birding hike through grasslands and into the Gorongosa Mountain.

So far I have seen 16 species that I have seen previously, such as the house sparrow, cattle egret and numerous birds that I saw in Zambia and  Botswana in 2006 when I traveled with Keith and Bethany Miller and the Manor Church youth missions trip. But I have also seen 52 new species here in Mozambique.

Here some of the special ones.

Lilac-breasted roller 1

 

Lilac-breasted roller 2

 

Lilac-breasted roller, which I have seen previously.

Red-collared widowbird 1

 

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Red-collared widowbird. Somehow the male manages to fly, with special effort. This effort is needed only in the breeding season; for the rest of the year he has a normal, short tail.

Fire-crowned bishop

 

Fire-crowned bishop – a striking sight in the grasses.

Yellow-bellied sunbird

 

Yellow-bellied sunbird, common throughout much of southern Africa.

Green-headed Oriole

 

And this is the super-special sighting. The green-headed oriole is found on Gorongosa Mountain and nowhere else on earth. Saki van Zyl, our guide for the day, led us to the mountain where we saw several of these. The photo is even clearer than our sightings because these  bird stays high in the trees and are often hidden by foliage, but we saw and heard them.

I do not attempt bird photography, so all the spectacular shots in this blog are from the internet. It seems that some of these photos are copyrighted, but I could not find the names of the photographers or the agencies to contact, so I am using the images without being able to give the credit that I wish I could give.

If readers of this blog have a favorite bird of southern Africa, please post a reply and let me know.

The Church in Mozambique
April 12, 2013

The Brethren in Christ Church in Mozambique has 116 churches, with an estimated membership of 6,000. The churches are small in size. The larger churches have about 20 adults and an equal number of children. We are present in 8 of the 10 provinces. Most of our churches are in the central and northern parts of the nation.

Bishop Filipe Maharange lives in the south in the capital city of Maputo and works for the police department there.

Portuguese is the official language of Mozambique. About ten languages are spoken in our churches, with Ndau (en-dow) and Sena (sen-ah) being the primary ones.

Steve and Chris Newcomer are here at the invitation of the Mozambican Church to do leadership training. They distribute Bibles and Bible study aids. Steve is available to speak in the churches on many subjects, and on Sunday afternoon he leads a weekly discipleship group of about 25, consisting of BIC and other local Christians, both pastors and lay workers.

Two missionaries came from the BIC Church in Malawi eleven years ago to do evangelism and church planting here.

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Youngson and Elizabeth Palibendipo live here in Beira. He has planted many of the BIC churches here. He is gifted in linguistics and administration. He does translation work for the bishop, both in documents and in speaking occasions. He takes Steve and Chris to many of the churches and introduces them there. He also works with Mennonite Central Committee in Theological Education by Extension.

Youngson and Elizabeth have two young children.

Laston Bisani family 2013 RE

The other missionary from Malawi is Laston Bisani, shown here with his wife Carlota and their ten children. Laston had nine children with his first wife, then she died of cancer, then he married Carlota and they have one child together, hence the family of ten children.

Laston is a church planter supreme. I have no clear word as to how many churches he has started here in Mozambique, but the number is high. The province where he lives, Zambezia, has 65 churches.

I not have occasion to meet Laston; he lives in another town, far from here, on the border with Malawi.

There are other fine pastors and leaders who are Mozambican, but so far I do not have photos and information about them. Perhaps I can post some more information later.