Talk about hitting the ground running. Less than 12 hours after stepping foot in Mozambique, Ezy and I began our Saturday by visiting two churches.
Zacarias Massicame was first. This is a spinoff congregation (formerly just a local church) from Liberdade UMC (Kirkwood UMC's partner). So, this is a new church start! Ezy and I met with about 15 of the Administrative Board members. Some of their children also lingered. The pastor was away at another meeting, so the Board Chair led the discussion with Pastor Guirruta from Liberdade.
Highlights? Learning that they currently worship under a tree. A cashew tree. Nothing is more Mozambican than that! They worship at that location one Sunday each month and the rest they travel to Liberdade. Liberdade also dedicated their thanksgiving offerings and service location to be under the tree! How many of you would willingly (and honesty not complain) about worshiping under a tree for a Sunday instead of your chapel?
This local church has more than 296 members and has wonderful plans for the future of building a chapel and parsonage. You can see from the photos that in just a year, they are making wonderful progress with the help of Liberdade. Since May, they've grown by 22 people alone. We discussed the need for them to plan a microfinance project that can help expedite the building-process through profits. I'm fully confident that as they put their heads together on their community need -- they will be successful!
We then went to one of the church members' homes where we fellowshiped and had a meal together. From potatoes (french fries) chicken, and other fried goodies with seafood in them, we at e well! Also at this church was Ilda Guambe, Naftal Massela's wife, whom has become to be a dear friend of mine. Naftal, Ilda, and their families all worship here.
Then we visited Zacarias Manhica's church with Rev. Lasse. Zacarias Manhica's sister churches are Sleeper UMC and Zion UMC in Gordonville. About 5 other church leaders attended. We saw their chapel that is under construction, which will be beautiful and large. With more than 600 members and more than 150 worshiping each weekend, this is a thriving church. They are without a parsonage, but thankfully in this case, Rev. Lasse owns his own home in the Maputo area.
As I visit churches this trip, I hope to focus on learning how each of them is evangelizing and growing. I hope to offer more insights as the trip unfolds. After two churches, there is already a common theme. More later.
We made it back to the hotel relatively early (4:15PM) and Ezy departed to allow me to rest and catch-up on things. During this trip, I also have to balance two seminary online discussions and begin to consider writing 2 final papers for Asbury Theological Seminary.
While this didn't take place today, it is super cool how our denomination is connectional. There is a conference in Maputo with participants from GBHEM, Board of Discipleship, GBGM, and others. I ran into Heather Lear from the Nashville Discipleship office on my plane from J'Berg to Maputo. We sat in the same row and as I was moving things around, she saw a UMC cross and flame. Heather noticed and asked if I was United Methodist. So, almost 9,000 miles away from our respective homes and two UMC employees found themselves sitting next to each other on a plane with no previous knowledge. Crazy, huh? God is good.
Then, I met Yolanda briefly at my hotel yesterday when Ezy dropped me off. Yolanda works at GBGM and went to Africa University with him. We ended up having dinner at the same time today in the hotel and had great conversation! A teaser here, but as I am always on the look-out for my takeaways blog -- our conversation will come up again!
Tomorrow is an early morning. We're leaving for church at 6:45AM. Boa Noite.