Friday, July 17, 2009
This week has been one of those weeks when we had the privilege of seeing the fruit of our labor. Upon my arrival from a short trip, our interns informed me that a family member of one of our church families had passed away. They were looking to me to take the reins and prepare for the funeral. Can you imagine their surprise when I reminded them that I was scheduled to participate in two days of meetings and would not be available to officiate the funeral? I also dropped a bomb when I shared with them that they as a team were more than capable of leading the proceedings and I would help them prepare.
If i can put into words their response, sheer terror and surprise as none of them had ever spoken at a funeral let alone been in charge of the whole process. Here in Mozambique there are normally three services that need to be prepared. First, there is a chapel service where family and friends see the body and say their good-bye's. This is usually quite emotional as each person walks by the body and sprays from a perfume bottle a little fragrance to anoint the body. Later at the grave site, there is more singing, and a longer service as the body is buried. As in times past each person has the opportunity to toss in a bit of dirt. The workers at the cemetary then cover the body followed by each person planting a flower in the freshly placed dirt.
We sat together and divided responsibilities and I helped them to prepare for a very important ministry opportunity. I encouraged them to remember that at the end of the day, regardless of what happened, they would have buried the gentleman and everything was going to be just fine. The most important thing to rembember regardless of what happens is that funerals are for the living. To show the love of Jesus and share the truth of scripture, giving hope, would be the most important thing they could possibly do.
Oh they were so nervous! One young man, Adérito, stayed up until 2:00 in the morning preparing for his sermon at the grave site. In the end the guys were exhausted and full of wonderful stories to tell of God's mercy and love. They were so encouraged as the family admitted that they were so afraid that these young boys would not be capable of leading the funeral service as these things are normally left for "adults" and/or the local bishop. The family and local community admired the guy's ability and maturity to handle everything with such love and skill.
Sometimes we wonder if our work really is making a difference in the lives of our interns and the community. In a moments notice, our guys rose to the challenge, pushed through their lack of confidence, and saw the Lord work through them, making a lasting impression of truth and practicality of the gospel message.
These guys are learning that what we do is less important than who we are and how we show love and engage people intentionally for the work of the gospel in the lives of people. We are already seeing new doors open in the lives of people since the funeral just a few days ago. Without a doubt the ministry will grow as a result of the funeral this past week. more importantly our interns have grown and seen one more time the power of relationship that impacts the important moments of peoples lives.
Please continue to pray for each one of our guys as they continue to mature in faith, leadership, ministry skills and a future that is sustainable. Each day is another opportunity to take one more step toward the goal; trained, mature, missional young men. Passionate about Jesus and being Jesus in the lives of people they interact with every day.
Monday, July 6, 2009
It's happening again! About 1 year out from our next home assignment, we're missing family, hot dogs, big macs and American holidays! Sometimes we get to spend holidays with other Americans, but this year, God chose to give us a different kind of July 4th celebration. We celebrated with people who had no idea what day it was for us. It was "Family Day" for our interns. They invited their families and pastors or church reps to celebrate what God is doing in their life through International Internship in Mission and MozOvos. It was a great day!
We had a special celebration service with music and special dance numbers by our interns!
Family members were given the opportunity to express their love for their interns and joy of what God is doing in their lives.
We could feel the love!
The young girls of the church (along with Lynne) worked hard to provide good food for approximately 150 people.