(This is a drawing I did in Pemba, Mozambique of a courtyard in the Iris Harvest school student village. We would pick up bread rolls every morning in front of this large baobab tree, so it became known as the “bread tree.” I gave the drawing to Iris co-founder Heidi Baker)
Tony and I are back from Africa as changed people. We’ve been in Africa many times before, but this time was even more life-impacting – on us, and those around us. Thank you so much for your prayers and support. We couldn’t have done it without all of you coming alongside us. Some of you were on our Facebook prayer team for the journey, so you would know some of our encounters.
Many of you read this blog live in the Northern Hemisphere. While most of you had a summer heat-wave from May to September, we had varied weather in the South African and Mozambican winter (located in the southern hemisphere). South Africa was cold (they do not heat their houses like we do), but Mozambique was still still quite warm and often quite hot! We found the Iris Global Harvest School in Pemba, Mozambique was an incredibly intense ten weeks. We learned alongside 248 internationals, plus 300 Mozambican pastors who were paired with us in groups that were named after colours. Our colour group was light brown, and we went on a trip together to a nearly unreached village called Linde. It is not far from the mining city of Montepuez, where they mine rubies.
The people in Linde were very welcoming and open to our message and love. We made some friends, even though our knowledge of Makua was limited. There were a number of dramatic healings while we were there, including the curing of blindness and deafness in some locals. Another team that included friends went to another village, and they prayed for a four-year-old boy who had died of malaria earlier that day. He was certified dead by the village chief. After they prayed for some time, the boy began to return to life! Yes, raisings from the dead still happen! The boy’s father came to faith in the process and joined in with the prayers for his son. They took the boy to the hospital for follow up and he was confirmed as recovered from malaria. He is going to be fine! I also was able to share my coming to faith story in Linde before the assembled crowd, and many people in the village came to faith in Jesus Christ.
Tony and I were also encouraged by an Ottawa friend that we were to leave a legacy in Mozambique. I had assumed that meant we would sponsor or bless a former orphan, but it seemed that God had something else in mind. Tony and I were paired with a Mozambican mama named Maria. Maria is a widow with five children and she does not have a job (we did try to get her one, but she was not hired). She and her children live in a two room bamboo and stone house with a broken tin roof. There are many holes in the walls as well as the roof. Her house is located at the bottom of a hill, beside the village latrine. During the rainy season, her family cannot sleep laying down, because the house seriously floods. It is also not secure from thieves or wind. We were asked to help with house repairs. So we asked the Iris mercy ministry to help us estimate what was needed. They told us that the house was not worth fixing, but that she instead needs a completely new house constructed for her. House building is one of the ministries that the Iris mercy department does for poor widows and families. Maria is not the only one that needs help!
It costs $3,200 USD to build a new concrete block house. We prayed and were led to begin a fund with Iris Pemba and Iris Ministries Canada so that Maria could have a new house. We didn’t think we could raise enough on our own to build her a house this year, but thought perhaps next year might be do-able. Maria was worried for this year, but it turns out that God has other plans. Tony wanted to set up a new campaign on Go Fund Me (a crowd funding website), but I strongly felt led to tell Tony that we needed to just trust God for the funds. He met with two friends on our return to Ottawa, to share and to pray with them about their own needs. Both of them took out their chequebooks and wrote large cheques to Iris Ministries Canada. We also received some unexpected funds, and then were were only $400 Canadian short of the goal! Tony decided to not wait for the rest and sent the remainder to Iris Canada (although another friend gave on our GoFundMe page towards the house). This means that Iris can build Maria’s house in early October! God is so good! His plans are so much better than you can ever expect. We are so pleased about this quick answer to prayer.
We found many more answers to prayer when we were in Mozambique. We were continually reminded of God’s faithfulness and we often felt his love, mercy and compassion. We even had mercy extended to US during our time in Pemba. We went to lunch with our colour group in a beautiful beach restaurant and one of our group wanted to be baptized. After she was baptized in the Indian Ocean, we spent some time together and headed back to base in a truck. I had help to get into the truck by standing on concrete blocks because it was so high. After Tony and our group leader helped me in the truck, Tony left behind our shared bag of valuables. (!) Both of us thought that the other one had the bag. As soon as we were back on base, I asked Tony for the bag. He and Kenny, one of the leaders, immediately drove back to the restaurant, and our other leader phoned them right away, so they could look for it. Tony and Kenny inquired about the bag, and were asked many questions about the contents. After satisfying the owner of the adjacent hotel, our bag was returned with not one single thing missing! We were so thankful that an honest guard handed in the bag to the management.
This action was highly unusual since poverty is so severe in this area. After we thanked God for his mercy, I was reminded of Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” This was a promise to us, since we had continually showed mercy and help to Mozambicans in (what seemed to us) small ways. We weren’t counting the acts of mercy, especially since the needs could be overwhelming. There is a good reason why Iris Global do-founder Heidi Baker says to “stop for the one.” If you stop for the person that God brings to you (like a divine appointment), loving your neighbour one on one becomes do-able. You can ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with compassion and guidance each time. We did this many times and it works, although it is always best to pray and worship beforehand, so this comes as an extension of your devotional time with God.
We found there were many needs on the Pemba base, including: working with former orphans, widows, primary, elementary and high schools, library classification, media team, the visitor centre, feeding programme, farm, clinic/birthing centre, Bible school, Pemba University, Harvest School, Iris Arts, and weekly bush outreach. That is only part of what they do in northern Mozambique, and they may do radio as well. Although I saw the radio as an opportunity, my heart was and is pulled to South Africa. We’ll see how that works. I’ll share about our time in South Africa soon.
If you are local to Ottawa, we have an in-person report back at St Paul’s Anglican Church in Kanata, Ontario. It is on October 1st at 9 am for coffee/tea, muffins and 10 am for presentation. If you’d like to learn more, please let me know (click on contact). The QR code is at the bottom of this post.
Love, Laurie-Ann Copple
I did this drawing from an iPad photo of fishermen working during low tide by Wimbe Beach, near Pemba, Mozambique. The view was near Kauri restaurant.
This is the QR code for our report back on October 1st. If you have Facebook, it will give you the info and address you’ll need. Join us!