Our brothers and sisters here know how to worship. Our service started at 8:17 as we were waiting for the Governor of Inhambane province to arrive. It lasted until 12:40. You are reading that correctly. 4 hours, 23 minutes. I refer to a Springsteen concert in similar times. Sorry, I digress.
I’ve covered many of the worship elements in past blogs, so I’ll only address different or new things. The offering lasted approximately 40 minutes, each district singing and dancing their offering down the main aisle. The offering collected totaled more than $3,400 USD – which is such a blessing and a wonderful thing. There are more than 400 attendees all together.
Worship featured a choir from the Inhambane province churches, was led by the Massinga district superintendent, who is just a treat to be around. He’s enthusiastic and a little bit of a clown, while being a class-act guy that is led by the Spirit and he ensures others respond to the Spirit working, too.
We spent about 30 minutes reading the highlight decisions from the annual conference which varied from resolutions on doing work with those in poverty and battling HIV or malaria to increasing pastoral salaries by 10% next year for theologically trained pastors. Districts were split into additional districts as they continue to grow.
The district governor was the highlight. He’s a young guy (under 40 years old) and would be very much like our Governors in Missouri – the leader of an entire province (state). Daniel Francisco Tchapo. When it was his turn to greet the Annual Conference, we were already about 2 ½ hours into the service. He said he didn’t know what to say, wouldn’t take much time or use his scripted comments. Then, he proceeded to tell us that during our worship that he was moved and called to Joshua 1:1-6 (be sure to look this up).
Governor Tchapo insisted that during Bishop Nhanala and his first meeting that we (Mozambican church) pray for him and the decisions he makes. We think he’s from an Assembly of God background. He proceeded to preach from what was clearly his heart, unscripted, with a main message of keep making disciples. He is taller than most Mozambicans (and Americans) and stands a tall probably 6’6”. It was such a moving speech that Bishop Nhanala said she did not feel the need to preach! It was super cool!
I spoke briefly as Bishop Nhanala introduced me as a representative from Missouri who was visiting Mozambique. We played Bishop Farr’s greeting with success (Portuguese subtitles) Others highlighted were the new missionaries at Chicuque Rural Hospital both from the USA and across the world.
Then, the craziness began! Appointments. They are not ever 100% firm in Mozambique and pastors can be moved during the year. However, most appointment changes take place during Annual Conference. The catch here is that the pastors do NOT know they are moving until it is announced verbally. Verbal appointments are firm and sometimes reflect pastors who are not moving and some who are.
Some exciting news is that Naftal Massela (VIM coordinator) will serve a church (which has been a goal of his) in addition to his duties. He’ll serve a local church and work to grow it. Naftal Guambe (sustainability project coordinator) also received a dual appointment – serving a church. This pastoral process is of course very different than ours. Bishop Nhanala indicated that some things they expect and others they don’t expect entering annual conference. She proceeded to say that DS of Gaza district Xavier Naftal Guambe will be retiring. He was then appointed as the chief evangelist for the annual conference. As names were read, I tried to follow along with my partner church to at least see if they were moved or staying the same. It was difficult to follow with specifics coming in the next several weeks.
After leaving we went to Ezy’s brother’s house who had slaughtered the goat that was given to me by Mangumo UMC. We had goat in the soup and with the chima and rice. Dessert was a wonderful mixture of mango and papaya (sweet flavors for these American taste-buds who was having withdrawls from the sugar-filled diets and foods in America). We bought a pineapple on the way from Cambine and included it. It was amazing.
Even though I am full, as I write this, I’m waiting on tiger prawns (large shrimp) from the hotel. I will regret it if I don’t have one last fill.
The journey home begins tomorrow with a 11:45AM (local time, 3:45AM CST) flight from Inhambane to Johannesburg. It’s always a wonderful time in Mozambique, albeit exhausting. The constant 12-hour days, 5 hours night sleep while never recovering from jet-lag isn’t easy. But it’s one that must be done. There’s a story to tell here. Nothing is like home, this place is such a special place.
I’ll leave you with a random thought that was on my list. I didn’t get to it sooner, but it has to do with the evangelization methods of the church and people here. Never talk about 3 things: politics, religion, and money. In Mozambique, talking about religion is a part of the culture and who they are. They invite people, they tell people about their relationship with Christ. They aren’t ashamed. We can learn so much from the church in these regards. Christianity in America (because of our siloes) does a horrible job of inviting people. When was the last time you invited someone to church? (For me? Yikes. I’m embarrassed to admit how long this truly has been…).
I’m hopeful for the church here. God is good. All of the Time. And All the time, God is good. Thank you for following me on this journey. I’m so thankful for each of your support, prayers, and for taking the time to read.
See you in Missouri. Boa Noite.