As we look back over 30 incredible years we are overwhelmed by God's great faithfulness. Missionary Hudson Taylor declared: "The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you." That has been our experience.
Answers to Prayer
There have been so many prayers answered, and miracles experienced, more than we could possibly catalogue. Just in my own experience, on over 120 Missions in 34 countries, I have experienced and witnessed thousands of answers to prayer. God has provided for our every need. He has tested us and taught us to do a lot with a little. In the early years of this Mission, I hitchhiked 140,000 km and for many years, my only vehicle was a motorbike. You would be surprised how many tonnes of Bibles, New Testaments, Gospel booklets and Gospel Recordings audio visual materials were distributed by motorbike in the early years of this Mission. Many missions were carried out by foot, by bicycle and by dugout canoe, in some of the most remote and inaccessible part of Mozambique, Angola and Sudan.
The Grace of God
Hudson Taylor taught that "God's servant is God's responsibility" and "God's work, done God's way, will never lack God's supply." Every consignment of Bibles to be smuggled into communist, or Muslim countries represented for us a monumental answer to earnest prayer. Every Mission into restricted access areas, war zones and closed countries was a miracle of God's grace.
It was not only family members, pastors and fellow Christians who told us that this Mission was: reckless, irresponsible, and impossible! Mission leaders warned us: It is too dangerous! It's illegal! You will get killed! Are you crazy? These countries are at war with us! You can't go riding into these war zones on motorbikes with Bibles and the Jesus film!
Mission to Mozambique
It is true that at the time that I was led to launch this Mission, Mozambique was an officially communist country. It was in the grip of an anti-Christian dictatorship that had already desecrated, burned down, or confiscated, over 8,000 church buildings. Bibles were banned. Evangelism was forbidden. All missionaries had been expelled. Operation World described Mozambique as "The least evangelised country in the Southern Hemisphere." Mozambique was closed and unreachable.
To give some idea of how the Lord guided: Realising that the border between South Africa and Mozambique was closed, and that there was no Mozambique Embassy in South Africa at that time, I travelled to the Kingdom of Swaziland to apply for a visa to Mozambique at the consulate there. When I was informed that I needed a letter of recommendation from a resident of Swaziland, I contacted Dr. David Hind, a Nazarene medical missionary. As my mentor was Francis Grim of Hospital Christian Fellowship, my first inclination was to look for an HCF member in the country. I had not realised that Dr. Hind’s son was the Minister of Health. Nor could I have known that Dr. Hind had cared for Mozambique refugees during the FRELIMO War against the Portuguese. His name was the most influential imaginable. The consul later told me "Dr. Hind treated me when I was a refugee from Mozambique!" I looked in amazement at the special gratis diplomatic visa that gave me permission to enter closed Mozambique.
An Open Door
As I rode to the Namaacha border post I was concerned about all the Gospels, New Testaments, and four reels of the Jesus film that was strapped onto the motorbike. One of the Mission leaders in Swaziland told me: "That country is not safe – be sure God want's you there." Another Swazi told me: "They hate South Africans – it would be suicide to go there!" The Diplomatic visa enabled us to pass through the Mozambique border post with minimal complications.
It was obvious that we had entered a communist nation. Revolutionary slogans were crudely painted across the walls of the dilapidated buildings: Viva Marx! Viva Communismo! Viva Lenin! Political posters decorated the peeling walls. Bombed out houses and burned out, bullet-ridden vehicles reminded us of the civil war. Multiple roadblocks impressed upon us the fact that we were in a totalitarian state.
By the time we reached Maputo it was already dark and this huge city looked ominously foreign. By God's grace we bumped into one of the only English speaking pastors in Mozambique. He insisted that we stay with him and he offered to be my translator. The next day the British Consulate permitted us to use their 16mm projector. However, he warned me that we would need a miracle to show our film as the city was in perpetual power failure. Incredibly, that night, amidst a roar of cheers throughout the city, the electricity came on! Just in time for the screening of the Jesus film! Our first church service lasted 13 hours. We were told: "You are our first visitors since the Revolution!"
The people had suffered so much. People were dying of famine in a green tropical country as each week Russian ships transported food out of the country to pay for the weapons pouring in. People were restricted from travelling and their careers were chosen for them by the state. All men over the age of 18 had to spend at least three years in the FRELIMO Army. Many were forced to go to Cuba as labourers, some to Russia. Yet, as one dear man said to me "We seem to have little, but God is with us!"
God has graciously provided for, guided and protected our field workers over hundreds of successful mission trips to over 30 countries, enabling us to deliver and distribute many hundreds-of-thousands of Bibles and New Testaments and millions of Gospel booklets, in over 100 languages. During the most intense time of the war in Sudan we were enabled to charter aircraft for over 70 flights to deliver over 100 tonnes of Bibles, books, Gospels and audio visual materials and medical supplies to some of the most remote and desperately needy Christians in the world.
Many tens-of-thousands of pastors, teachers, chaplains, medics and evangelists have been trained in our Evangelism Workshops, Discipleship Training Courses, Biblical Worldview Seminars, Reformation and Revival Conferences and Teacher Training Workshops.
We have experienced God's protection under fire. In some of the worst of circumstances, we have experienced that God is our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble. He is our shield and our fortress, our strong Deliverer. We have experienced aerial and artillery bombardments. We have had to drive over landmine endangered territory, ridden through ambushes, preached in communist military bases, sung in chains in prison cells and ministered under rocket fire. God has protected us from all danger, guided us across uncharted territory and provided for our every need.
In October 1987, the Frontline Mission team I was leading was arrested at Kazangulu Ferry, after refusing to bribe Zambian officials. We spent excruciating weeks of abuse at the hands of Zambian security forces, in filthy cells, blindfolded, handcuffed, interrogated and incarcerated in the overcrowded Lusaka Central Prison.
Denis Walker, a friend of ours who had served as a Senator in Rhodesia, ensured that the secretary of British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, was informed of our plight, just before her departure for the Commonwealth Conference in Vancouver.
There Margaret Thatcher was targeted for verbal abuse by Zambian dictator, Kenneth Kaunda, who was incensed that Britain was refusing to place economic sanctions on South Africa. Margaret Thatcher responded by asking why Zambia, herself, did not place sanctions on South Africa? Kaunda responded that, that would place many people out of work. Exactly responded the British Prime Minister, and as South Africa is one of our most important trading partners, many British citizens would be placed out of work if I were to impose sanctions on South Africa. Quite aside from the many South Africans themselves who would be place out of work.
Mrs. Thatcher went on to relate how Zambians were dependent on South African maize grown in the Orange Free State, how the Zambian Railways was maintained by the South African Railways, how the Zambian Airways was maintained by the South African Airways, how South African Vetenarians cared for Zambia’s cattle and how many Zambians were migrant workers in South Africa.
Kenneth Kaunda then declared that because of South Africa’s human rights abuses, Britain should impose sanctions. At this point Margaret Thatcher produced the information on our incarceration. Who are you to speak about human rights abuses? She challenged Kaunda, you are the dictator of a one party state. You do not even allow your own citizens the opportunity to choose any alternative president. And four British missionaries are being held without trial, as presidential detainees in Lusaka Central Prison, tortured and abused by your own security forces! Kaunda was dumbstruck and publically humiliated. He ordered our immediate release.
In the Killing Fields
My prison experience, two years later, in communist Mozambique was even more dangerous. I had travelled by motorbike, dugout canoe and by foot throughout remote areas of Tete and Zambezi provinces. During one extensive mission in 1986, I had documented over 42 villages which had been burned to the ground, 74 churches which had been destroyed and over 60 incidents of Bibles being burned, 28 incidents of FRELIMO, or Zimbabwe, troops having massacred whole villages. I saw burned out villages, burned out fields and unburied corpses and was shown the scars of bayonet and bullet wounds of several church leaders. For weeks I listened to testimonies of Christians who had suffered trauma and torture at the hands of the communists. I ministered to people who had lost all their possessions and many who had had their loved ones taken away to concentration camps. Many of these eye-witness testimonies had been published in the Mozambique Report which later was included In The Killing Fields of Mozambique. As a result numerous Western governments stopped their financial aid to the FRELIMO government of Mozambique.
I received a hostile death threat from the Mozambique government. On Ministry of Justice, Department of Religious Affairs, letterhead, I was informed that should I attempt to come back to Mozambique "We will kill you!"
In 1989, just six months after being married, while leading a medical team in Northern Mozambique, we were captured by FRELIMO soldiers and flown by Russian pilots in Mi-8 HiP helicopters to Tete, were we were interrogated.
During the flight in the helicopter, I asked the Soviet pilot: "Why are all the villages and crops burned down? Who is responsible for this?" "The FRELIMO government burns it down to starve out the Resistance," declared one Russian in a matter-of-fact way. Another one explained: "We are draining the sea to catch the fish!" Referring to the RENAMO resistance movement. Later Russian pilots transported us in Antonov-26 transport aircraft to Maputo where we were imprisoned in the notorious Machava Security Prison.
In Maputo, each of us were separated and placed in pitch darkness, in solitary confinement. My concrete cell was 2 x 2.5 meters. There was no bed. Cockroaches scurried around and persistent mosquitos attacked me in swarms throughout the nights. Rats squeezed under the door to try and nibble on my limbs. The walls of our cells were covered in Christian graffiti: Please God help me; Jesus is my Lord and Saviour; I have not eaten for 38 days; God is my refuge; many verses, some crosses and fish symbols. We were evidently not the first Christian prisoners in these cells, nor were we the last.
Campaign for Freedom
While we were enduring imprisonment and interrogations, our Mission was busy campaigning for our release. Mozambique embassies in Europe and America were being deluged with phone calls and faxes protesting our arrest and demanding our release.
After a week of abuse at the hands of the FRELIMO Secret Police, international pressure succeeded in securing our release. We were driven through the squalor and filth of the dilapidated capital, in its sea of squatter camps, to SNASP HQ in Maputo. Without explanation, or apology, we were unceremoniously handed over to our respective embassy officials. An immaculately dressed tall blonde woman asked very loudly: "Well, who are the Americans?" The six medical workers raised their hands and were embraced with shrieks and sounds of joy and excitement. With arms around them, the American Consulate official led them out the door saying:
"Well, let's get you over to the American Embassy, for a shower and some hamburgers!"
As they disappeared down the hallway, I turned and saw a man in a suite who asked very quietly: "And who is the British gentleman?"
I was the only person left in the room, not wearing camouflage and carrying an AK-47, but I raised my hand. The Consulate official shook my hand and asked: "Had a spot of bother have you? Well let's get you over to the British Embassy for a cup of tea."
That incident seemed to epitomise the difference between the Americans and the British.
By God's grace, and in answer to much prayer and international pressure, in 1994, the FRELIMO government renounced Marxism, opened up the economy and accepted a multi-party democracy with free elections. Church buildings and lands were returned to the congregations that they had been confiscated from. Firearms that had been confiscated were returned to those still alive. The borders were opened. Missionaries were welcomed back into the country and religious freedom was announced. Decades of Marxist indoctrination had created a society that was morally bankrupt and where life was cheap, violent and short. Conditions in most of the country remain harsh, but Mozambique today is wide open to the Gospel and spiritually responsive.
Tremendous Church Growth
There were less than 4% Protestants back in 1982 when we began our Mission to Mozambique. Today Protestants, Evangelicals, Charismatics, Pentecostals and Independents who would describe themselves as Born Again, number over 30% of the population. However, along with the massive church growth, syncretism and legalism have grown. While Christians in Mozambique are eager to learn, leadership training has been inadequate and there is widespread ignorance of Bible teaching and standards. Most of the pastors have little, or no, formal training. Bible teaching, Discipleship and Leadership Training remain high priorities for Missions to Mozambique.
The Crumbling of the Iron Curtain
1989 was an incredible year which also saw one of the greatest answers to prayer with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. The toppling of one Marxist dictator after another, most spectacularly the Christmas Revolution in Romania and the execution of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, led to the removal of the Iron Curtain and the opening up of Eastern Europe to freedom of movement, freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of association. The Iron Curtain was torn down because of the tenacious faith, resilient courage, faithful Gospel preaching and persistent prayers of God's people. In the words of Jan Hus: "Truth conquers!"
We also experienced God's perfect timing and His judgement of a blasphemer in the spectacular crash of Mozambiquan dictator Samora Machel's Soviet Tupolev aircraft. Samora Machel had been involved in the ritual eating of human flesh during a witchcraft ceremony, where he pledged his soul to satan, if he were to be given control over FRELIMO. During this cannibalistic episode, Machel vowed the destruction of the Church in Mozambique. When Mozambique was delivered into his blood soaked hands, Samora Machel declared war on the church. At mass rallies and over the nationalised press and state controlled radio, Machel lashed out at the church. Thousands of churches in Mozambique were closed down, confiscated, nationalised, chained up and padlocked, boarded up, or burned down. Missionaries were expelled. Some were imprisoned first. Bibles were ceremonially burned and tens-of-thousands of Christians were shipped off to concentration camps. Most were never seen again. At least 300,000 people were incarcerated in re-education camps and 75,000 publically executed as reactionaries, or black marketers and counter revolutionaries.
In 1986, Samora Machel challenged God to prove His existence by striking him dead, in 60 seconds. To provide incentive, Machel cursed God, blasphemed the Name of Jesus and then whipping out his watch, dramatically counted off 60 seconds before the shocked crowd. Machel then shouted contemptuously, Time's up! Machel declared God dead and himself alive, amidst dutiful applause. Now, Machel was not original. Lenin and Mussolini had both given God similar 60 second blasphemous stop-watch treatment. However God is most merciful, he gives us more than 60 seconds to repent. But the Spirit of God will not always strive for the hearts of men. Just over a month later, Samora Machel's Soviet Tupolev aircraft smashed into the landscape near Komatiport. The Marxist FRELIMO and Zimbabwe plans for overthrowing the pro-Western, Christian orientated government in Malawi were exposed, translated and published worldwide. This doubtless preserved Malawi from communism. There were churches praying that very night for God to intervene in Mozambique and to end the persecution of the church there.
From Socialist Humanism to Christianity
Another monumental answer to prayer that we have witnessed over the last three decades is how Zambia was delivered from 26 years of one-party socialist dictatorship under Kenneth Kaunda, and committed to becoming a Christian nation. Under Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia had hosted a variety of Marxist Revolutionary groups including: The MPLA who were waging terrorist attacks on Portuguese West Africa (Angola), FRELIMO which was attacking Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique), ZANU and ZAPU who were taking landmines across the border into Rhodesia and Soviet Red-Eye missiles to shoot down civilian airliners. The SWAPO terrorists who killed over 10,000 civilians in South West Africa (Namibia),also had their base of operations in Zambia. Even the ANC and PAC terrorists who were bringing explosives for car bombs, landmines and limpet mines into South Africa were based in Zambia.
Tools of Terror
Nobody could calculate how many tens-of-thousands of innocent civilians died as a result of the landmines, limpet mines, rocket launches, AK-47 and other tools of terror channelled through Zambia and taken by these Marxist revolutionary groups into neighbouring countries and further afield. It was the height of the Cold War in the 70s and 80s. Marxist Propaganda was broadcast from the radio and Zambia was recognised as the frontline state of the Soviet offensive on Southern Africa.
But all that changed in 1991. Today Zambia is another country. Socialism is discredited. Signs of capitalism, economic growth, ingenuity and dynamic entrepreneurship are everywhere. Huge billboards and advertisements line the roads, new shopping centres are springing up in Zambia and it has even begun exporting food. Communism and Humanism are discredited. Zambia is officially, constitutionally, committed to becoming a Christian nation. Abortion is illegal. Pornography is banned. Homosexuality is illegal. The Bible and prayer are in school and parliament. There is tremendous enthusiasm for Reformation in Zambia.
Working for Reformation in Zambia
The dramatic changes in Zambia over the last 20 years are clearly seen in the contrast between my first visit to Lusaka, in chains, and subsequent visits as a VIP received by the Commissioner of Police, cabinet ministers and the President. It was at the request of the then Minister of Education in Zambia, General Godfrey Miyanda, that I wrote Biblical Principles for Africa. The Zambian government ordered hundreds of copies of Biblical Principles for Africa to distribute to all their parliamentarians.
When we first started swimming across the river into communist Angola, churches were being burned and bombarded. There were more landmines in Angola than people. The first dictator of communist Angola, Agostino Neto, had boldly declared that he had destroyed the Bible. He claimed that in 20 years you wouldn't be able to find a Bible anywhere in Angola. You would have to go to a Museum to see what a Bible looked like! God removed Neto and today many of the churches which had been destroyed by Cuban troops are rebuilt, flourishing and overflowing with new converts. There are more Bibles in Angola today than there were when Neto made that reckless declaration. Frontline Fellowship smuggled in many thousands of Bibles into war-torn communist Angola during the worst years of the conflict there.
South Sudan's Successful Struggle for Secession
9 July 2011, marked a monumental answer to prayer as South Sudanese celebrated their successful struggle for self-determination and secession from the Arab North. It is a victory against the oppressive Sharia law of Islam and a triumph for resilient Christianity.
Victory Over Sharia
This date with destiny marked the culminative effect of many years of intensive prayer, world wide publicity, international pressure and missionary partnership with courageous persecuted Christians in Southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains. The longest war, in the largest country in Africa, concluded with an Independent and free Sudan. Something most people thought impossible when we began to campaign for it.
Serving the Persecuted in Sudan
From 1995, Frontline Fellowship conducted over 70 Missions to Sudan, delivering and distributing over 300,000 Bibles and Christian books in 24 languages, in 14 different regions of the country. We delivered an ambulance to the battlefront, tonnes of medicines, food and agricultural tools and seed to some of the most desperately needy Christians suffering from some of the worst persecution in the world.
We trained hundreds of pastors, teachers, chaplains, evangelists and medics, helped establish schools and Bible colleges, medical clinics and a hospital.
Mobilising Prayer and Pressure Against the Persecutors
We also took in many journalists, photographers, missionaries, church leaders and filmmakers, to introduce them to the incredible courage of the tenacious Sudanese Christians – an island of Christianity in a sea of Islam. My book Faith Under Fire in Sudan went through 3 editions. The 3rd edition is three times larger than the first. We helped Jeremiah Films produce Sudan: The Hidden Holocaust, and Terrorism and Persecution. On over 1,000 radio and TV programmes, and probably as many public meetings, on four continents, I exposed the horrific atrocities of the Islamic government and presented the inspiring stories of Christian courage amidst Muslim carnage. All of this helped to alert many millions of people to the plight of Christians suffering under a relentless Islamic Jihad in Sudan.
Fruit of Freedom
Extraordinary efforts were mobilised to publicise the perilous plight of the persecuted in Sudan and to mobilise International pressure against the persecutors. By God's grace, all of this prayer, publicity, pressure and partnership began to turn the tide. A ceasefire was agreed on by 2005, and Independence was achieved by South Sudan on 9 July 2011.
Missionary C. T. Studd declared: "Some like to live within the sound of church or chapel bell – I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell!"
Clearly the will of God never leads us where the grace of God does not keep us.
The Great Commission is our supreme ambition. Africa for Christ!
Dr. Peter Hammond
P O Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
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