Africa Reformation Overland Mission
By God’s Grace, Joseph, Francis and I have completed our seven-country overland mission, ministering throughout Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Botswana and South Africa. We thank God that during our 14 000 kilometres mission, we did not even have one puncture or any mechanical breakdowns. We only had a few minor mechanical problems and none of us were seriously ill or injured. We left Cape Town not knowing if we would have enough funds to complete this mission, but God was gracious to answer our prayers and provided for all our needs. Thank you to all those who prayed for and supported us
Reformation and Revival
On 31 October 1517, Dr. Martin Luther launched the Protestant Reformation with his bold stand at the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. This Back to the Bible Movement is no doubt the most significant historical spiritual milestone in our lifetime. We used this milestone and Martin Luther’s example of excellence, to call people to go back to the Bible, and the uncompromised preaching of the Biblical Gospel, that they would be challenged to work for Reformation and pray for Revival today.
As one of the pillars of the Reformation was a call to return to Sola Scriptura, or Scripture Alone is our Authority, this was a major emphasis of the seven Leadership Training Seminars conducted in these countries. Using the Coalition on Revival’s FIRE documents, we instructed Christian leaders on the Authority, Inerrancy and Sufficiency of Scripture and encouraged these leaders to sign their endorsement of The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (1978), available in the Coalition on Revival Manual. We also encouraged participants to sign their endorsement of the 95 Theses for Reformation Today. We distributed these Coalition on Revival Manuals to leaders at the Conferences, along with copies of The Greatest Century of Reformation, Old Testament Survey and Biblical Principles for Africa books (depending on their level of English comprehension).
We conducted two Leadership Training Conferences in Swaziland, with the help of a Dutch missionary, who we had met on a previous mission to Swaziland. This missionary had, a few months before, hired a large trailer and driven to Cape Town to collect over two tonnes of literature from our Literature4Africa stores. We distributed some of these Bible Study and Sunday School packs at these Conferences. The participants included pastors, Sunday school teachers and school teachers. They asked many questions and were grateful for the literature we could distribute. A highlight of the second conference, was taking the participants on an outreach on the streets, after taking them through a Way of the Master Evangelism Workshop. Many came back with positive testimonies of the receptiveness of people on the streets. We hope and pray that they continue to make this a regular practice and mobilise their congregations to also be involved in regular street evangelism.
We ministered in a rural area for a few days with a local pastor that has been mentored by a missionary friend of ours. Translation was a challenge, as there are more than four languages spoken in this area: Zulu, Chopi, Shangaan and Portuguese. Our presentations often included double translation. When we screened the Jesus Film, we chose Zulu, as this was the most common language spoken. We were encouraged to see that our host pastor is involved in many farming projects, which is helping to uplift the community. Whenever they plant new crops, or a new tree, they pray and ask for God’s blessing. We helped plant some new mango and avocado trees and prayed with those helping. We also ministered at an ACE Christian School, then drove over seven hours to the Doctors for Life Mission Base.
Doctors for Life
The roads in Mozambique were the worst out of all the countries we visited. In some parts, the tar road has deteriorated to such an extent, that now all vehicles drive on the side of the road. This of course makes travelling slow and a bumpy ride. It was encouraging to see the work being done at the Doctors for Life Mission Base. At least once a year, teams of doctors, surgeons and other volunteers come from around the world and conduct intensive clinics at the base and in the surrounding areas. A major focus is eye cataract surgeries. These doctors cause the blind to see! These patients can then become productive members of their communities. Ministry Teams minister to the hundreds who have come to these health clinics from far distances. The rest of the year, a handful of missionaries run the church and clinic. The pastor has planted six churches in the surrounding rural villages within a 200km radius. One of these missionaries is a nurse from Switzerland, who is currently running the clinic single-handedly! As our time at the Base was limited, we helped fix leaking pipes and a cupboard. Francis helped at the clinic. You can read more about Doctor’s for Life’s Aid to Africa Medical Missions here.
Field First Aid
It is helpful to have basic First Aid knowledge in the field and our missionaries receive First Aid Training. In a rural area of Malawi that we ministered in, I met a boy whose leg had been badly burnt. This boy was deaf and therefore unable to communicate. Sadly, children with disabilities such as this in Africa are ostracised and neglected. With Joseph and Francis’ help and supplies from our First Aid Kit, I carefully removed the dead skin around the wound using my Leatherman multi-tool, placed ‘burn shield’ ointment on the wound and then bandaged up his foot. The boy was so grateful that the next morning he was the first to greet me outside my tent.
In Malawi, we conducted Reformation 500 Conferences in two different cities. Our first conference was frustrating to say the least – most of the participants arrived late and they wanted to leave early! During teaching on the Inerrancy of Scripture, one “pastor” continuously and arrogantly played the devil’s advocate, by trying to raise apparent contradictions in the Bible just to get the other pastors to laugh. This was very frustrating, as this so-called pastor was actually blaspheming and causing others to do the same! Despite these disruptions, I believe some of the participants benefitted from the teaching and were grateful for the books we donated to them.
In the next city in which we ran a Reformation 500 Conference, our host and the participants had the opposite attitude and level of enthusiasm. Our host pastor was an inspiration. He has four young men staying with him in his house who he is discipling (plus 16 others). They wake up early in the morning to do their chores before going to work and are actively involved in helping him with his ministry after-hours and on weekends. This pastor and some of his disciples conduct missions to neighbouring countries. The participants at this Conference were eager for solid Bible teaching and the Question and Answer sessions lasted for several hours. We bought 10 Chichewa Bibles at the Bible Society in Blantyre and distributed these to worthy leaders at these two Conferences.
We also had an opportunity to meet up with a pastor who participated in our Great Commission Course in 2015. We ministered at his congregation in a rural area. His congregation is doing well and we were encouraged to hear that they sing hymns and recite the Apostles Creed (in Chichewa). This is rare in African churches.
The Need to Go Back to the Bible
We also conducted two Reformation 500 Conferences in Zambia. Most pastors in Africa have not read through the whole Bible, let alone have studied it thoroughly. At some of these Conferences, I asked the leaders, “Who of you have read through the whole Bible?” Only a handful of Christian leaders across the six countries in Africa that we ministered in, have read through the whole Bible. It seems that many of these leaders would rather rely on supposed dreams and visions, and TV programmes, rather than study what God has said in His Word! Prayer often resembles pagan chanting, rather than praying the Word and Will of God.
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son…” Hebrews 1:2
At the second Zambian Conference, with Reuben, our long-time friend and contact in a rural area of Zambia, we had leaders from a variety of different church backgrounds attending. One of these was a Jehovah’s Witness leader who attended all three days of the Conference! All of the participants had many questions. The Question and Answer sessions lasted for hours, with questions ranging from “If someone places a curse on me (via the witchdoctor), may I place a curse on him back?” to “Can I still be a member of a church if I can’t afford to give any money to the church?” It is important to take the time to answer these questions. It is encouraging to see how our host pastor is growing crops and teaching other pastors to also be self-sustainable.
Delivering Boxes with Love to Pensioners
A joy of any Mission to Zimbabwe, is to deliver boxes of non-perishable foods and some medical items to elderly and destitute pensioners. By God’s Grace, we were able to deliver 40 boxes to elderly people – many of whom we have visited on previous missions. These boxes made it through five border crossings undetected by bribe-hungry border officials! This is an answer to prayer, as whenever we are about to cross a border, we pray for God to “blind” the eyes of corrupt officials. One elderly man said he had just been praying for someone to come and visit him, as he was feeling very lonely – we were his answer to prayer! Other elderly people were very grateful for the box they received, saying “Thank You for not forgetting about us.”
You Have a Mamba Heart!
A highlight of any Mission to Zimbabwe, is our visit to rural areas – a place where I can genuinely call several people who live there my friends. When I teach on Evangelism, I use the analogy that our rebellious hearts are like a Cobra snake – dangerous, destructive and potentially deadly! However, because Mamba snakes are more common in Zimbabwe, I teach that in your unredeemed state you have a “Mamba heart”. I was about to teach on “the heart of the problem is the problem of the heart” one evening, but what I could not have anticipated, is that my analogy would be emphasized by reality! One of the leader’s called me to tell me that his granddaughter had been bitten by a snake. They told me they thought it was a harmless brown house snake, but when her foot swelled up, it became necessary to get her to a hospital and I offered to drive them there, whilst Joseph gave the teaching in my absence. Although she was probably not bitten by a Mamba (as she could have been dead in a few minutes), it was definitely a venomous snake. The next day, I recapped the teaching that Joseph had done the previous evening. When a member of the congregation stood up to testify what he had learnt, he described how the girl’s snakebite had illustrated how dangerous the venom of our own hearts is – our sin is destructive! The little girl has thankfully recovered but it was interesting how God used this potentially life-threatening situation to teach Biblical truth.
“The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies. They have venom like the venom of a serpent…” Psalm 58:3-4
I had purchased five Shona Bibles before the start of the Mission. We were able to selectively distribute these to believers in this rural area.
We went through more than 50 police roadblocks in Zimbabwe. The police in Zimbabwe have become very “creative” in their corruption. Despite their dusty roads, they wanted to fine us for dust covering the light near our number plate! They also demanded that we have 4 reflective triangles in the case of a breakdown, not two!
Mass Literature Distribution
In Botswana, another former Great Commission Course participant organised ministry opportunities for us. We distributed over 2 500 World Missionary Press Gospel booklets at a Botswana Independence Day celebration held at a stadium and had good Gospel conversations with several members of the police and military. We also had an opportunity to minister to children at a Good News Club (Started by Child Evangelism Fellowship) and gave a Mission Report at a local church.
My wife, Taryn, then flew up to join me for two weeks of ministry in Limpopo and Gauteng provinces. I gave a Mission Report at three churches that pray for and support us regularly. It was also wonderful to spend time with our families before we prepare for the arrival of our first child – a daughter, in early January. God has been abundantly faithful to provide for all our needs through the generosity of friends and family.
Pray for Southern Africa
Please continue to pray for the pastors and other Christian leaders that we ministered to on this mission. Pray that they would turn back to the Bible and would truly uphold God’s Word as their ultimate Authority. Pray especially for Zimbabwe – next year they will face elections – which are always accompanied by much intimidation, violence and terrorism against those that do not vote for the “right party” (i.e. the only party you are permitted to vote for – ZANU-PF). Christians who refuse to participate in bribery and corruption are suffering immensely. Diesel is scarce and shops are inflating prices. Pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering, especially for the elderly, who are much neglected. Pray that as Christians think on the bold stand that Martin Luther made 500 years ago, that they would be emboldened to work for Reformation in their congregations and communities and would earnestly pray for Revival.
"Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?" Psalm 85:6
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