One reason had brought together hundreds people of various backgrounds, denominations, Government staff representing the Governor of Inhambane province, and members of the United Methodist pastoral charges of Inhambane Area District. Bishop Joaquina Filipe Nhanala and her Cabinet and Department directors, including the Mozambique Initiative, had an eye wide open to witness the re-opening of the Inhambane UMC Chapel and the dedication of Elias Makhule UMC parsonage.
Cry no more!!!- We had had this being said from our brothers and sisters from our covenant partner Missouri Conference, in response to extensive damages that literarily destroyed Chapels and parsonages and community homes, and claimed lives in Massinga, Morrumbene and Inhambane Districts of the UMC, including the Mission stations of Cambine and Chicuque.
Hope was restored, as prayers continued and actions of faith and compassion and solidarity emerged from many corners of the Methodist world. Bishop Robert Farr and his leadership delegation had been to the rabbles of the aftermath of Dineo cyclone destruction in Inhambane UMC and many other places. "There is nobody overwhelming like Him"- Bishop Nhanala mentioned this while addressing crowds in the dedications, and extending deep words of thanks to our sister Missouri conference for prayers, thoughts, suffering together and supporting by financial means in the restoration of faith and love in Mozambique.
Colorful processions accompanied by "endless" joyful songs of praise drove the Bishop through facilities as introductions were being made of newly built infrastructures which included toilets, fellowship house, bedrooms, etc. Nhanala cut the ribbon, and reminded people to open minds and hearts, so as to receive the word of God with faith. "Our blessed communion nourished from baptism and full of Holy Communion should be the temple of the Holy Spirit while we gather in love"- Bishop also referred to the Parsonage as a place of peace and love for the pastor and his family- 2Samuel7:17-29. Bishop Nhanala presented the Bible, a lump, a hoe, a salt, a broom, and pounding mortar, as signs of prosperity, faith and productivity in the Christian family. Nhanala urged the Elias Makhule UMC members to help realize their Pastor is now in a comfortable house, but God is outside, as the congregation continues worshiping God under a tree-cover. She also asked members to make contributions to help furnish the parsonage and bring in electricity.
In the consecration of the Chapel, Bishop Nhanala presented and blessed the Holy Communion table, the pulpit, calling upon God to shine upon His light for a bright path for healing and salvation from the living Christ, and for the glory of God who has invited us through His grace. She pointed the Church as a place of refuge, a place to welcome the known and unknown, sinners, people of good will, poor and rich, criminals, drunken people, so that they can be renewed and receive the Holy Spirit, be born again, and be blessed equally.
Bishop Nhanala reflections came from the books of Matthew 25:34;36; Numbers1:47-49;53; Numbers 35:1-2;6; commenting on the blessed Leviticus chosen to maintain focus in the Lord and seek protection to all kinds of people in the city of refuge. The city that saved and renewed physical and spiritual lives. Today, in the dedication of the Chapel, Bishop Nhanala calls on people to be transformed and make difference in the family and surroundings, and at workplace. To serve in communities and set example of self-sustenance, like what Inhambane UMC did, by making local contributions to build additional church infrastructures. Final reading came from Joshua 1:9 9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
Holy Communion was served as sign of unity to the body of Christ and confession of faith and commitment to Jesus Christ. “As sinners we are called to repent to be forgiven”- Bishop Nhanala, surrounded by Cabinet members and District Superintendent also baptized 5 children, symbolizing purification or regeneration and admission to the Christian Church. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20.
Government officers congratulated, applauded and welcomed the United Methodist Church in the edification of social tissue and economic development of the country, through actions already in place in religious, education and health areas throughout the country.
Bishop Nhanala closed the events and asked the crowd to mingle for fellowship as one in the body of Christ.
With 71 years old, Inhambane UMC has now above 1,200 members, 5 local churches, and is a mother-church to nearly 5 parishes. Elias Macule UMC (named after a prominent Evangelist) is 54 years old and has about 150 members and 4 local churches.