This morning we sent our missionaries back to Mozambique, Africa, something we are doing a lot in the past few years. Jim and Susan Oetter and Jessica Riemersma are IMB missionaries, but they are really ours. They are all three members of our church and have gone to spend a few years of their lives in Africa (Jim and Susan for 3 years, Jessica for 2), helping our full time missionary, another man, John Dina (who grew up in our church) and his wife, Wanne (a native of Brazil).
Let me back up. John and Wanne went to Mozambique, Africa over 15 years ago as full time missionaries. Their main job is raising up indigenous pastors in the various villages and groups of people around Quelimane, Mozambique. He has been talking to our church and others about coming to do mission trips to help him get some special things started for years. And finally a few years ago, my husband answered the call to help. He and 5 other men from our church went to see the work and to lead services in various places there. The next year a group of our women went to lead a women's conference. And finally a group of our youth and college aged members went to lead True Love Waits meetings and abstinence education classes. (which is nearly unheard of in Mozambique, where marriage is not the traditional way, and where AIDS is rampant)
Part of this last group were two young people who went to serve in Africa again. Jessica Riemersma has served as a semester missionary in Niger and is now in the middle of a two year term to Mozambique, where she and a partner are working with young women from the universities there....young women training to be nurses or teachers in their villages.
The other was Jeremiah Johnson, who went to Mozambique in January of 2010 and was killed in a motorcycle accident there in April 2010. His death threw not only our church and his family into deep grief but also the people he had ministered to in Mozambique. The posts I wrote about his work there are here. Compelled to go to the grieving Dina family and also to see the places where their son ministered, David and Diana Johnson, as well as my husband Charles and I, went to Mozambique in July 2010. The stories of our trip as well as the amazing influence Jeremiah had in his brief time there are also on that link.
This past June 2011 Charles and David went back again to teach seminary classes to the group of pastors John is helping to get better trained. They had 28 men, who for the first time in their lives heard the stories of the Old Testament and further training in pastoral care and personal growth as leaders in their churches. They each received a full study Bible in Portuguese and part of their training was in how to use the study Bibles for their own study. Up until this time, they mainly had been trained in the New Testament. Some of the pastors there had come to know Christ after Jeremiah had gone to their villages.
It all comes around. God works all things for good. He's got a purpose in life and we are blessed to be in on a little of it.
As we sent them off this morning, we had to hurry back to our church, where a group of people waited for my husband, Charles. We are having a special week of evangelism and outreach events in the neighborhoods of Phoenix. The Southern Baptist Convention is having their annual meeting in Phoenix this year. And wherever they meet each year, they also plan a lot of evangelistic events to help that host city reach out to their communities.
We've been busy prayer walking and asking God to bless our neighbors with open hearts and minds to the gospel as it is presented to them and that He would draw people in to fellowship in churches and build His Kingdom up in our area. We want to reach them and this is a huge week. Please pray for Phoenix. There are events happening all over this metro area. SBC members from all over the United States are coming to help in our hot, hot city. That alone makes it hard, but the real hardness is the human heart. That is why we're asking God to make people open, cause them to be thinking on spiritual matters, so that when people come to their door or meet them on the street or in a restaurant or at a block party, that they would already be searching. And that they will make a response to follow Christ.
The group is resting and some have seminary classes this afternoon, but already this morning God has opened the doors to two apartment complexes, where they got permission to knock on doors. And 2 people in those apartments have decided to follow Christ. They will go out again this evening for a few hours, as they will do each day this week.
On the way home from the church at lunch, Charles 'just so happened' along our next door neighbors, who were walking home from the store in the heat and he offered them a ride home. We've been praying for them and there they were, with an opportunity to serve them and get to know them better. He invited them to our block party this Saturday and she said she would bring her daughter.
Prayer opens the doors! Keep praying for our community and for God's love to draw them to Him.
God loves Mozambique and when our church members obeyed the call to go there, He blessed it.
God loves Phoenix too. Our members are jumping in there, answering the call and God's already blessing it.
Come Lord Jesus, bless this land....