Pleasant Hill UMC Members Visit Covenant partner at Songo, Mozambique
God still makes miracles!
By Denise Ingels
On October 15 a four-person delegation from Pleasant Hill UMC arrived in Tete, Mozambique, prepared to travel north to their partner, Songo UMC. This is their story.
The air was hot as we climbed down the rock steps to the abandoned orphanage that was being used as a church. After three years of planning and four days of traveling, we were about to meet the people we had been partnering with since 2001. When we arrived we were presented with handmade leis and met with clapping, singing and curious looks. It was both humbling and exhilarating. Worship began with singing in a language that we could not understand but occasionally we recognized a familiar tune. Preaching had to be translated first from Portuguese to English and then into the local tribal language. After worship, the lay leader of the church presented us with a short history of the difficulties the church was encountering. The congregation had been started by people from southern Mozambique who had relocated to Songo to work at the Cahora Bassa Dam in the 1970’s. When the work was completed in 2004, most of the people moved back to the south, leaving the congregation with 45 people, many of whom were children. Shortly thereafter, their building which had been constructed of local materials collapsed. Somehow after the building collapsed, they lost the land and had to begin the search for a new location on which to build. They began meeting under a tin lean-to connected to the back of an abandoned orphanage owned by the Women’s Society of the UMC in Mozambique. They continued to invite their friends and neighbors but most no longer took them seriously. People of the village had no interest in a God that had abandoned them to such lowly circumstances.
Our church at Pleasant Hill had collected $950 to be given to a building fund for a new building. District Superintendent Elias Pfungo requested that the money be presented after a question and answer session our second evening. We knew the moment had arrived when a young man in the congregation named Raphael stood up and began to earnestly plead, “I have been praying day and night for a church building for several years. Can you please give us some hope that God is going to give us some help?” We were able to share 2 verses from Psalms that God had laid on our hearts before the trip that indicated God had heard their prayers. We then presented the money. At first, the people did not react—for some, it was a language barrier and for others a belief barrier. DS Elias had to pull the money out of the envelope and wave it before their eyes. After the service, Raphael could be heard saying, “I am so happy,” over and over.
The next morning during the Sunday morning worship we noticed a man who kept wiping his eyes. After the service he asked for permission to speak. He said he was the owner of the land where the original structure had stood. He said he was giving the land back to the church free of charge and then promised us that if we would return to Songo in 2 years they would have a building ready to dedicate. While we don’t understand the specific details about the land, we know that something of a miracle happened that Sunday morning. DS Elias said the congregation had been transformed by our visit and our gift.
We believe that God is still in the miracle-making business!
To learn more about making a covenant partnership commitment (10 church partners and 5 full & partial district partners are currently needed) or visiting your partner, e-mail Mozambique Initiative coordinator Carol Kreamer or call at 636-271-4455.