OUR STORY – Chapter E11




Two-thousand-and-eight was a Leap Year and surely, in Mozambique, it took off with leaps and bounds. The first step at Chinhacanine was the drilling of a borehole.

We selected a convenient place for a borehole and asked the Lord to please give us water right there.

During the visit of our HCCN friends in October the previous year, we selected a convenient spot in the south-western corner of our premises, knocked a peg into the ground and asked the Lord to give us water at that spot.

Drilling for water.

The water was crystal clear and sweet.

In January the drill arrived. Two days later water was struck right there at a depth of 21m. Drilling proceeded up to 35 m. The borehole rendered more than 3600 litre per hour, ample for our own needs, as well as for the needs of the surrounding community. The water was crystal clear and sweet, not brackish like the water of some boreholes in that area. The community was overjoyed at the sight of so much water and converged on our premises from all directions, even from distant dwellings, to fill up every container they could lay hands on.


Martie pointing upwards, not only to the watertank but also to the Lord Who provided the water, pump and tank.

We equipped the borehole with a submersible electric pump, erected a 6 metre stand with a 5000 litre supply tank on top, built a distribution point for the community on the adjoining premises, and laid a hundred metres of electric cable and water pipe to our buildings. All this was brought about by our friend Wayne who had visited us a couple of times. He had connections with a mining firm called Great Basin Gold and arranged with them to sponsor the whole installation. What a wonderful gift.

As said earlier, up till then, all our water was carted by wheelbarrow from a distant government borehole equipped with a manually operated pump. It took hours of queuing and pumping to supply us with 10 x 20 litre cans of water and we had been paying one of the local girls to do this. And now: running water, wow! We were fascinated when we first opened the tap in the kitchen and water gushed out. It was as if we were witnessing a miracle; as if we had never seen the like before.

Saturday the 21st June, was D-day for the inauguration of the installation and people converged on our site from the east and the west, the north and the south. From South Africa, from our HCCN congregation, we had our senior pastor, Pastor Carel Berndt, Pastor Grant Neuper and Pastor Shadrach Motswai, Wayne (the making things happen man) and two young men thoroughly skilled in preparing “Boereworsbroodjies” (sausage rolls). Then we had Willie Beckman and six of his team members from Great Basin Gold, the firm that sponsored the whole project. Locally we were honoured by the Administrator of our district (Guija) as well as his deputy and also the Head of the sub–district (Mabanguene) and his secretary who assisted us behind the scenes to observe the correct protocol (like not sitting at table directly opposite the Administrator). Then of course, we had our local chief and friend Mr. Vuma (which means: “Move, Get going”) and many of the local community and spiritual leaders, as well as our local Rivoni students.

Ben receiving a certificate for the occupation of the site signed by the local Administrator.

It was a joyous occasion. I spoke about gifts: GBG’s financial gift, God’s gift of water from the heart of the earth and His greater Gift from heaven, the Gift of eternal life. The message was well received and all our tracts were snatched up after the meeting. We also opened the distribution point to the community and called it “The Well of Samaria” after mama Samaria, a star amongst the Rivoni students, who would be handling the administration. We decided to charge one Meticai (app. 33c) for two containers of 20 to 30 litres of water. This would be used to defray electricity and maintenance expenses.

A second major step forward, was the splitting into two, of the vast area to the east of Chinhacanine (between 7 de Abril in the south and Gumbane in the north). Titus would be attending to the three southern centres (7 de Abril, Tomanini and Xibongweni) and a younger man Joao Ubissi, would use the donkey cart to run the northern classes (Mafada, Maribsane and Majimisi). Joao had been going around with Titus for quite some time, assisting him with the donkeys for they tended to stray at night from the outposts Titus visited to present the discipleship classes. In the morning they had to be found and harnessed which Titus, being disabled, found hard to do. This also was the reason why the donkey cart was now allotted to Joao. Since Titus would henceforth have a smaller geographical area to serve, we bought him a good bicycle which he was well able to handle. Splitting Titus and Joao’s ministry up into two teams, doubled the amount of work they could do and the number of classes they could present, which brought us great joy.

Three of our first stars: Titus, Pita and Baloi. We trained them and they, in turn, started scores of discipleship classes.

To the reader unacquainted with the area, the names of these villages will not mean much, but God saw the individuals within each of those communities and longed to bring them into fellowship with Himself. More than that, He wanted to teach them all the deep and precious truths contained in His Word, truths that reveal the glory of His being. He wanted to transform those uncomplicated people into the image of His Son.

Another area where we experienced abundant blessing, was to the south of Chinhacanine, across the Limpopo River in the Manjangue township, where sister Pita Matuassa was running two discipleship classes. One of her students, a widow named Gloria, who had 5 children and lived next door to her, was a very special person. She never missed a class, but more than that, she also accompanied Pita wherever she went to minister.

Sister Gloria, another bright shining star, with a group of students that completed a course successfully.

During that time, she once attended a funeral at a place called Ricuswe where her relatives lived. On doing so, she was grieved by what she saw and said to them: “What are you doing? You just wrap the body in a blanket, lower it into the grave and cover it up. Not a verse of Scripture read, not a prayer said, not a song sung. Why are you behaving like animals?” The people were ashamed and replied: “What should we do? Nobody ever taught us.” Right there Gloria arranged to hold meetings for them every Sunday. She walked the six kilometres through the bush, held a service by using the lesson she had been taught by Pita during the week, socialized for a while and then walked back home again. Those bush people know how to share. They will share their last spoonful of porridge with you and will most certainly share every scrap of spiritual food with whoever will accept it. They know the suffering caused by poverty and starvation and they also know the suffering caused by spiritual poverty. The Lord Jesus, looking at the multitudes, said they were tired and without strength like sheep without a shepherd.

To sister Pita, whose job description was to: “Disciple the township of Manjangue within twelve months,” the progress was a great encouragement and soon afterwards, she opened up another discipleship class at Zone Six, a suburb of Manjangue.

In the office, I was working very hard to complete the next series of approximately 35 to 40 lessons on the Gospels and the Book of Acts, for the students were catching up with me. The lack of resources out there in the bush, made it difficult for me to consult other publications, especially in dealing with difficult topics when one would like to consult different commentaries on the subject. At that stage we had no Internet connection available as we did later on, so during the seven days per month during which we were in South Africa, I had to surf around the internet and by phone, find material that might be useful, order it and receive it before leaving for Mozambique, or else do without it for another month.

During the month of June (2008) while we were at Phalaborwa, 26 students passed their exams on the Old Testament at Chinhacanine and Manjange. Most of them were leaders in their respective churches and we were looking forward to what the Lord would be doing through them.

By August 2008, some two-and-a-half years had passed since the Lord had called Martie and me to rebuild the Mozambique section of the walls of Jerusalem. We had travelled hundreds of kilos and seen the need. There was a diversity of small churches, but their spiritual walls were almost non-existent and the devil and his accomplices had taken up their abode in every nook and cranny of the ruins. They were controlling the lifestyle of the people by ancestral worship and witchcraft which, in reality, is nothing but demon worship. The building blocks of the knowledge of God’s Word lay scattered and shattered and the gates of truth were burnt to ashes. We initially tried to patch them up with a few meetings here and there, but the Lord said: “That will do no good. Take a hint from my servant Nehemiah and rebuild from the very foundations, first clearing away the rubble of heritage and misinformation. Use my Word and build one block at a time, from Genesis to Revelation. Secure the gates of truth. Cement them into their minds, hearts and lives of the people. It will take some time, but then you will have a firm, secure wall and my people will be safe.”

We did so. We compiled Bible lessons and with the help of our co-workers, founded discipleship classes from Matitze in the North down to Chinhacanine, Manjange, 7 de Abril and up towards Mafada. For a class to complete the course on the Old Testament, took about 10 months. At that stage:

    • 15 Classes were running,
    • 133 Students were enrolled,
    • 13 Townships were covered.
    • 26 Students had passed their first-year course.

Seeing their joy was infectious. One of them testified: “I was a member of my church but had almost no knowledge of the Word of God, but now I know. I know how everything was created, I know about Abraham that left his country, trusting God to lead him. I know about Joseph and oh, how his example touched me. I saw how he forgave his brothers who sold him into slavery. Then my heart melted and the hardness and hatred left me and I was able to forgive.” (Forgiveness was indeed, very important for the people of Mozambique whose country had been ravaged by civil war for 17 years.)

“Graduation day” for students with large numbers of relatives and friends attending.

A “graduation” meeting was held at Chinhacanine for the students who had passed their exams a while before. It was attended by many of the pastors and community leaders. They were deeply touched when listening to the testimonies. One of the pastors came forward without any invitation being made, knelt down with tears running down his cheeks and said: “Please pray for me, I want God to use me more.” What a feast these two “graduation” meetings were, the one up at Matitse and this one down at Chinhacanine.

These students would now be continuing with their classes covering the four Gospels and the Book of Acts and after that, the rest of the New Testament. But what blesses me most was that every one of them was going to start presenting the course on the Old Testament in their congregations under the supervision of our co-workers. This was a sovereign act of God. We never had it in mind that the students would immediately want to become evangelists. The Lord surprised us and showed us that He was controlling His work. It was such a relief to kind of discover anew that you were just another wheel in the machine, not the steering wheel, and that there was Someone above you taking charge of the project and thinking and planning ahead of you. I like that, for it takes so much pressure off one’s shoulders!

As much as we would have liked to, we could unfortunately not devote all our attention to the spiritual side of the work but had to set aside some time for the erection of buildings. True, father Abraham lived in tents but he had no computers to protect against the dust. We had also faithfully been following the advice of King Solomon mentioned earlier, namely to: “… get your fields ready; after that, build your house.” (Prov. 24:27) We first got the discipleship classes running smoothly and producing fruit and only then did we start laying the first cement blocks at Cinhacanine. Our six by six metres carport that was initially covered with a shade-net and a ground-sheet spread underfoot, now had brick walls, a cement floor, a scullery complete with sinc, running water and even a drainpipe.

While Martie was flitting around from gas stove, to electric stove, to fridge, I leant back in my plastic chair like a wealthy king enjoying his domain. Oh, praise be to God, praise be to God! We had been living out in the open like the nomadic Bedouins of the Arabian Desert and the domestic goats of Chinhacanine, but now we were protected against wind and rain. To visitors from South Africa, the square cement-block building might have looked like an outbuilding in a factory’s backyard but to us, luxury.

We also laid the foundations for living quarters and offices, five rooms in all: two for our workers, when they visited there, one as a temporary office and two for Martie and me.

We then travelled to Pretoria where we enjoyed our congregation’s missions weekend on 21 September, reported on our work and were overwhelmed with goodwill and love (and some real good food!) We also spent some time with some of our supporters, one day with our son Jaco and his family and three days with our son Frans and his children (Frans was home from Arabia where he was working at that time).

On returning to Mozambique, when reaching the border post at Komatipoort, God spoke to us saying: “Return to your home at Phalaborwa, sell whatever you can, pack the rest and terminate the rental of your garden flat for you are now to live permanently in Mozambique.” “Yes, Lord.” So we travelled the 350 kilometres to Phalaborwa, sold what we could and packed the rest, furniture and all, into the caravan. You should have seen the inside of that poor vehicle, stuffed to the roof, and every time I despaired of fitting in all our belongings, I felt the Holy Spirit prompting: “Just keep going. Just keep going” and there would be a gap for another box or bag or blanket. The filing cabinet went into the off-road trailer, the double-bed base, desk and my mountain bike on top of it. Every now and then I ducked underneath the vehicles to check whether there still were two fingers of space between the leaf springs and the chassis.

Then, the sad part, greeting our friends, attending farewell meals and on Sunday giving a farewell speech at the morning service of Gateway congregation which we had been attending for the past almost three years. Because of God’s work, we always had an enormous extended spiritual family wherever we moved.

On Wednesday morning 8 October, we returned to Pretoria where we met with members of our congregation to arrange for a major joint outreach at the end of November. Thursday evening we attended the tenth wedding anniversary of Jaco and Debbie (our son and daughter-in-law). What a delightful evening, giving glory to God for keeping and uniting them in His love.

When the function ended at 10:30 pm., we were off in our little VW Fox to Phalaborwa. On reaching Ohrigstad we were so exhausted that we pulled off into a dark side street and slept for some 15 minutes. We got “Home” by 4:30 am, dropped onto the remaining mattresses like logs and slept till 9 am.

Then up again, snatching a bite of food, hitching the off-road trailer to the Fox and the caravan to the Pajero, bidding a last farewell to our dear landlord and his wife and then, off to the Mozambique border at Giriyondo. Now: how much import tax were we going to pay on all that stuff? Would they have us unpack all of it? O dear! Alone, each in our separate vehicles, Martie and I prayed and praised and worshipped all the way. I think we would have run over an elephant without noticing. Then the great moment came. The customs officer, clipboard in hand, bade me open the caravan’s door. I did so. The stuff on the inside almost piled onto us. He hastily jumped backwards, pointed at a box and said “What is that?” As I tugged at a corner of it, it tore open, revealing files and papers. He motioned me to close the door and moved on to the trailer, looked it up and down, then started off back to his office asking me one question after the other in Portuguese which I did not understand, so I just alternately nodded my head and shook it from side to side. Suddenly he stopped, signed the papers, returned them to me and left with a friendly smile. In a daze I walked back to the Fox and motioned to Martie to get moving with the Pajero before the dear man changed his mind. So we did not pay one single cent. Bless the Lord!

Now came the next challenge, traversing those terrible Limpopo Park roads with their high central ridges (middelmannetjie), corrugations, holes, sand and stones with the little VW Fox towing the heavy loaded off-road trailer. Martie too had to find her way carefully with the Pajero towing the groaning caravan. But what do you know? We made it and got to Chinhacanine by about eight that evening. (When, a few days later, I wanted to change the tyre of the Fox’s rear wheel, I discovered to my horror that the rim of the spare wheel did not fit the Fox’s hub. We had been travelling without a spare wheel! “Lord, sorry for unknowingly tempting You.”) Well we flopped down in the office (for there was no space in the caravan) and slept with hearts filled with gratitude and adoration. God’s people are still crossing Red Seas on dry ground.

The next morning we were up at dawn to unload the caravan and trailer for I had to speak at a wedding of one of our co-workers way out in the bush at 9 am, and the day after, that is Sunday, we attended the second phase of his wedding at 7de Abril.

Come Monday, we were off to Chokwe to buy building materials, for the builder was itching to get on with the work. The next weekend we went to Matitze where, in our absence, another 16 students had passed their exams. We took their photos and with the help of a car battery and power inverter, printed the certificates and then celebrated God’s goodness with a meeting filled with joy and laughter. Never a dull moment!

At the beginning of December we had a five-day outreach towards the north-eastern part of the province where we were intending to open up another discipleship district at a later stage. This outreach was done in conjunction with a large team of members from our Pretoria congregation. They had travelled down in three vehicles. We held meetings at a couple of places that had a great impact upon the community.

A group of supporters from Pretoria accompanying us on an outreach.

Perhaps an even greater value of this joint outreach, was that two of the couples later on went into full-time service of the Lord, the one in Zambia and the other in Lesotho. A member of the “A Team” that had visited us earlier on to assist with the practical work, also felt called by the Lord and he and his wife and daughter went into the Lord’s service in Malaysia. I do believe that our answering God’s call at our age and pioneering a new mission in a country like Mozambique, had quite an impact upon members of our congregation. Apart from these that ventured out to other countries, there were also those that lodged missionary and related projects within the framework of the congregation. Light shines in unexpected places and salt falls where you do not always see it.

After that campaign, we spent three wonderful days with our eldest son and his children travelling in the Kruger National Park, then enjoyed five nights in a caravan park at a Mozambican coastal holiday resort on our own.

Isolated from family, friends and Church, Christmas day in Mozambique was just another day of the week to us.



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