OUR STORY – Chapter E13




On returning to Mozambique on New Year’s Day 2010, I felt rather burnt out, low in spirit, uninspired, lacking in motivation for another 365 day marathon, but as I prostrated myself before the Lord, He favoured me by pouring into my heart a prayer of faith, a special appeal to the Throne of grace. Suddenly my heart was revived like that of Elijah as he was cowering under the broomtree; light flooded my soul and power poured into my spirit so that I could rise up, flex my spiritual muscles, put on my spikes and take my stand at the starting line, ready for the spiritual race of the year 2010. Blessed be His Name! God is more real than any other reality we know.

Shortly afterwards we also received some good news from the South African Revenue Services. We had put in a request to be exempted from the payment of income tax on the Mission’s income. This seemed to be asking for the impossible for, as the Law read, we did not seem to have any grounds on which to base our petition, but God was above all human authorities. When we got back to the RSA and opened the post, there was a letter from SARS, informing us that our plea for exemption had been granted. A miracle! Praise the Lord from whom all blessings flow! For the rest of that day Martie and I were floating on a dazzling white cloud and nothing whatsoever could wipe the smiles off our faces. Our auditors afterwards informed us that we would have had to pay between R30 000 and R50 000 annually in taxes, had the exemption not been granted.

Arriving at Nelspruit we set up camp in a local caravan park, as usual where we were joined by our SA Board members travelling from Pretoria. On Saturday we had a Board meeting as well as our Annual General Meeting in one of the chalets and had the joy of sharing with them all the good things the Lord had done during the past year and then deliberated on the Mission’s plans for the future.

On Monday we balanced our books for the financial year that had ended the previous day, 28 February. Setting up an office in the caravan where we were also preparing food and sleeping, was quite a challenge. Apart from the laptop and printer, we had stacks of files as well as piles of expenditure vouchers, but we got it done, handed everything over to our auditors who gave all their time to check it, and some days later we had their report which we forwarded to the Director of Non-Profit Organizations with a sigh of relief.

While at Nelspruit, we scurried around every day getting the laptop cleaned up from its 200(?) viruses, me getting new spectacles, changing the Pajero’s registration from Limpopo to Mpumalanga, having the caravan’s brakes repaired, applying for renewal of Martie’s driver’s license and shopping for what was required at Chinhacanine.

We also had the wonderful privilege of attending an athletics meeting of 16 secondary schools where two of our grandchildren from Kempton Park participated and gave good account of themselves. We even had the opportunity of attending a local church meeting the next Sunday and were so blessed to worship the Lord shoulder to shoulder with other members of his flock.

Now let me get to the most important development in the Mission at that time. For some time we had been looking forward to younger people, either taking over from us, or at least relieving Martie and me from some of our duties, since we were getting on in years (I was 69 turning 70 in May.) We also realised that the Mission was in a very vulnerable situation for Martie and I were handling all the admin work at Chinhacanine and if we were to depart suddenly, the Mission would come to a standstill or even worse, it would come to an end. One morning as I was again praying about this matter, I felt the Lord telling me to train Carlos, Baloi and Pita to take over as many of our duties as possible. Well I normally get going the moment God speaks to me (except when I have to apologize to Martie) and so I shared God’s words with her and put them into effect.

We started training Carlos to take over the supervision of the Mission as a whole. He in turn trained Baloi to train the trainees and Martie trained Pita to become secretary and treasurer. This sounds quite simple, but let me tell you, it was a formidable transition and all of us found that our work had doubled because of the training we were either undertaking or undergoing. Procedures had to be simplified for everyone to be able to cope with their duties. Baloi and Pita had had virtually no computer experience at all and started off by typing with one finger, picking out the letters on the keyboard one by one. Martie and I were disciplining ourselves to delegate as many of our duties as possible and to restrict ourselves to supervising and training. Probably the greatest future challenge for these three trainees, would be to hear from God when it got to the solving of problems. That was something that had to come from Above and could not really be taught. Inspiration is of God.

This was a rather slow process but made sense, for should Martie and I become unable to perform our duties, our co-workers would be able to carry on and prevent the Mission from collapsing.

We as founders of the Mission had no intention to withdraw altogether. As our local co-workers settled into their new roles, Martie and I intended to spend more time in the RSA to broaden the Mission’s support base by personal contact with people in South Africa. There was a great need for this, for since the founding of the Mission, we had been relying on existing friends to support the work and had not done any real deputation work to let the Christian community know what we were doing. This was becoming essential because some supporters had dropped out after some time and especially because of the three new districts we intended to serve with the Message of Hope. We envisaged that we would still be spending at least half our time in Mozambique with our co-workers, rendering whatever assistance they required. We rented a two- bedroom flat in Nelspruit to use as an office for the times when we would be in South Africa.

The following month was crammed with activity as we set about the operation of separating the Siamese twins, Rivoni Ministries RSA and Rivoni Ministries Mozambique, from one another. What a job: the financial system, computer network, filing system, new forms to be designed and new procedures formulated to make it as easy as possible for our less experienced co-workers to handle the complexity of the administration of the Mission. Then followed the training and practical instruction. Looking back, it seems impossible that the Lord enabled us to complete the task in less than a month.

From left to right, these are Carlos, Baloi and Pita, the first leaders of Rivoni. Titus, on the right was Rivoni’s very first evangelist.

Well, now it was over to Carlos, Baloi and Pita to keep the ball rolling, but we believed that we had heard correctly from the Lord and that He would demonstrate His power through their weakness.

Martie presenting certificates to students at Manjange. In the background is Gloria, their spiritual teacher and mother.

We also had two “graduation” ceremonies, one at Xivongweni and another at Manjage, during which a total of 22 students received certificates for successfully completing their one-year course covering the Old Testament. The Manjange meeting was very special. The students were so filled with joy and there were many guests, including pastors of local churches and other dignitaries, and one and all expressed their appreciation of and praise for the work the Mission was doing in making disciples of their church members. Martie presented the certificates and I delivered a word from the Lord, challenging them to bring forth spiritual leaders from every group that graduated, leaders that would be able to present classes on their own, thus expanding and accelerating the discipleship process.

I pointed out to the men that in their traditional lifestyle, the man, as head of the family, walked in front of his wife and children as they travelled through the bush. He carried the knobkerrie, spear and shield for it was his responsibility to protect his family. Nowadays the husband was to lead with the Sword of the Spirit (the Word of God) in one hand and the shield of faith in the other. It was therefore imperative for every man to attend these classes which God was providing so as to equip himself with Sword and Spirit.

One of the students, Rabelina Cossa, testified, saying: “I am a school teacher. I was given books that said that there is no God. Then I attended the Rivoni classes and learned that God is revealed in creation, in the Bible and in His Son that became Man. Now I believe in Jesus, the Living Word.”

On returning to South Africa and travelling down to the border post, we were stopped by a traffic officer who informed us that we had exceeded the speed limit by 21 km p/h. for which we had to pay 1000M but he would mercifully reduce it to M500, in which case he would, however, not be able to issue us with a receipt. I responded by inviting him to drive back with me in my car to show me where the speed limit signs were, for I was quite certain that there were none. This he declined. I then poked my head through the window and said: “Sir, please look up towards heaven with me and note that God is watching us and listening to what we are saying. He will not be pleased if we do what you suggest.” At this he spun around on his heal, walked off and indicated with his thumb over his shoulder that we could go.

Martie relaxing in our rented flat at Nelspruit.

We passed through the border control effortlessly, and soon after dark walked into our flat at Nelspruit for the first time. What an absolute heavenly experience: everything so clean! No carpet of sand that had blown in underneath the door and through the window crevices, no cockroaches, crickets, hordes of flies, spiders of every kind and droves of other insects converging on the lights. Instead of the smelly long-drop, there was a marble white toilet that flushed at the press of a button. The quietness: no goats bleating right under your office or bedroom window, no people conversing over a distance of 100 metres. Peace, serenity. And the heat was bearable, hardly any sweat.

Down, beyond the last block of flats, flowed a creek of rushing, churning, sparkling water, spilling over two protruding age-old rocks, a demonstration of bounty, power and speed, but also a haven of tranquillity for the weary soul that seeks to experience the presence of his Creator in the midst of the works of His hands.

As we sat down on the carpet of coloured leaves, lazily leaning back against the trunk of a tree, a troop of vervet monkeys materialized from nowhere and crossed the water through the foliage of overhanging branches, then sat framed against an azure sky, inquisitively staring down with large brown eyes at their earth- bound look-alikes. Two wagtails swept down and settled on the edge of the churning brown mass of water to snatch darting insects from its surface or shoot straight up into the air to snatch a tasty meal on the wing.

Have you ever thought how the Lord Jesus must have enjoyed his homecoming in heaven after having wearily plodded the dusty roads of Palestine for thirty-three years, often sleeping in the veld?

How we thanked the Lord for this interlude we were savouring. Yes we would still be returning to Mozambique after a week; we would still be visiting all those remote little villages in the bush, we would not draw back from sleeping on a cansi under the open heaven; we would eat the goat intestines, athletic chickens and bitter herbs prepared for us by hosts giving their very best to please their honoured guests but, in between, there would be periods to enjoy the world we were accustomed to before we settled in Mozambique.

We paused for a moment and looked back on the four and a half years since the founding of the Mission during which we had never borrowed money, and had never run short of funds and the work had progressed to the point where we now had 272 students, attending 20 classes in 10 townships with the furthest approximately 150 km away. We started off with one full-time worker, now we had 4 of them as well as 8 part-time workers.

On 8 May we went to Pretoria where we had two meetings with supporters and other friends who showed an interest in our work. That weekend we spent with family and friends, celebrating my 70th birthday. What a glorious time we had and what love we received from one and all, but I did not quite know what to make of my birthday itself for I was thinking that I was getting older and had taken one step nearer to heaven, yet I seemed to be getting younger and more and more involved on planet earth.

A group of students receiving their certificates at Chinhacanine.

Back from Pretoria we returned to Mozambique. On 29 May, we travelled some 85 km to Matitse on the banks of the Limpopo to celebrate the “graduation” of 35 students who received certificates for successfully completing their discipleship courses, and the next Saturday it was Chinhacanine’s turn to bask in the glory of God’s presence, as 50 students received their certificates, some for the courses on the Old Testament, while others had completed their courses on the Gospels and Acts. Carlos had, without my knowledge, included some extra material in the courses over the past months and I was amazed to see that the students were well able to answer questions like: “What is the meaning of the following names of God: Jehovah-Jireh; Jehovah-Shalom; Jehovah- Shammah; Jehovah-Nissi; Jehovah-Tsidkenu.” (Glad I no longer had to sit down for exams myself!)

The celebration meeting was a feast. Apart from the local pastors, community and Government leaders, between 300 and 400 uninvited residents turned up. How it blessed our hearts to see their hunger for God and their interest in what was happening on the spiritual level in their midst. Some of the students revelled in the opportunity to impress with their acquired Bible knowledge, while others testified of the deep spiritual work wrought by the Holy Spirit in their hearts. What an opportunity also for me to thunder forth the glorious Gospel of victory. I spoke on the promises of God: Knowing His Promises; Believing His promises; Acting upon His promises and then Enjoying the blessings flowing forth from His promises.

On Sunday we rested (sort of) and on Monday we were off to Mapai and Chicualacuala to procure houses for two of our couples that were now ready for their ministry as district superintendents. There were seven of us, five in the Pajero and two in the caravan (right at the back to ease the caravan’s nose weight on the Pajero’s rear suspension). But the road! Travelling in the Pajero on its own would not have been all that bad, but with the caravan hitched, it was like doing a Dakar rally. The 300km to Chicualacuala on the Zimbabwe border took us about 6.5 hours.

The house built at Mabalane. A similar three-roomed house was built at Ndindiza.

At Chicualacuala, after endless negotiations, we managed to rent an old railway house. At Mapai we obtained a vacant stand where we intended to build a house for our district superintendent. We then returned to Chinhacanine and from there travelled to Ndindiza, some 120 km north-east of Chin, where it took us four days to acquire a vacant stand.

Bad news awaited us at Chinhacanine for Pita, whom we had been training as secretary and treasurer, had been diagnosed with tuberculosis and admitted to hospital for two months whereafter she would have to spend another four months at home. That left us back at square one as far as the admin work was concerned. What now? At least we were so grateful that she was recovering for she was near to our hearts and had been one of our trusted co-workers for a considerable time.

Another question that now faced us, was where the funds to renovate the house at Chicualacuala and for the building of the two houses at Mapai and Ndindisa would come from, as well as the allowances and expenses of the three extra couples? I had no answer, but felt sure that the Lord had that angle covered.

The old railway house at Chicualacuala which we had to renovate. Yes Martie also did her share, apart from providing the team with food.

Renovated by the team in six days.







By the end of August, good progress had been made, for we had in the meantime been able to renovate the house we were renting from the Mozambican Railway authorities at Chicualacuala. It was in a terrible state of neglect, the roof was leaking badly and its outer walls were riddled with holes caused by bullets during the Frelimo/Renamo war. The windows had to be totally reconstructed with such materials as we could lay our hands on. Martie and I camped in our caravan on the site and assisted by Adalberto, Americo and Nelson, completed most of the work in six days’ time, leaving the rest to Adalberto and Americo and their wives to complete at a later stage. (The two wives, Juvencia and Lucia, dug the hole for the pit toilet. Mozambican women are tough!)

We returned to Chinhacanine, bought the building materials for the house at Mapai and set off to do the work. Martie and I were travelling in the Pajero, towing the caravan and Carlos was towing the off-road trailer with a Ford pickup Martie and I had bought for the Mission some time before.

On the way to Mapai, the main leaf of a spring on the off-road trailer snapped, causing the suspension to collapse and the wheel to swing backwards, badly bending the axle. We had to transfer the load of cement, etc., onto the Ford pickup, strip the axle and springs and send the body of the trailer back to Chinhacanine by truck. (The Lord, yes, the Lord, provided a passing truck just at the right moment, praise His Name. I later on managed to procure a whole new sub-assembly of axle, wheel drums, springs, etc., at Nelspruit for R5000, but had to rebuild the trailer myself, reinforcing the chassis with steel bars.)

At Mapai we built a three roomed house, using poles and pieces of concrete from a demolished house and plastering the inner walls in the normal way. It had a corrugated iron roof. The basic construction was done during the first week, and in the second week, a team of three supporters of the Mission came from Phalaborwa to assist us: Mark, Neeltjie and Flip de Jager (centre), the medical practitioner who had nursed me back to life while I was at Phalaborwa. Praise the Lord for hands-on friends. This home was expected to be ready by 1 October for Adalberto, Juvencia and their baby girl to move into. Mapai was just over 200km from Chinhacanine and the Government was planning to develop it to be a major town on the south-western border of Mozambique and adjoining the Limpopo National Park, so this was a very strategic centre for our district headquarters.

A major change in plans came when we decided not to post Nelson and Tina to Chicualacuala as originally planned, but to rather use them at our headquarters at Chinhacanine, to which arrangement they graciously agreed. Nelson was to be trained as secretary and treasurer in the place of Pita Matuassa who was still recovering from tuberculosis. The couple would also take care of the premises with its growing number of buildings and act as district superintendents to supervise the seven classes that were running in the district. This would free Carlos to take care of his numerous other duties.

The next challenge in the pipeline was the building of a house for Nelson and Tina at Chinhacanine. Temporarily they and their two children had to be accommodated in a single room with a tent pitched in front of it and I had promised that I would do my very best to provide a proper place for them to settle down. They had been travelling to and fro from Macia (120km from Chinhacanine) during the previous year while training for the ministry.

On 28 August, we had a board meeting in Pretoria. It was so nice to sit down with friends who loved the Lord and cared for His work and together, pray and discuss how to conduct the affairs of His everlasting Kingdom. The members of this board were in fact newly appointed just before we left Phalaborwa, for our original members all lived in or close to Phalaborwa and would not have been able to travel to Pretoria to attend board meetings. These new members were whole-heartedly committed to the Mission and were much used by God to promote its welfare as time went by.

Another matter for rejoicing was when, in answer to a telephone call, we travelled down to Maputo and received a document signed by the Minister of Justice of Mozambique, to the effect that the Mission had now been legally registered as a non-profit religious organization. This meant that it was a legal entity in its own right, could register property in its own name and most of all, that it no longer had to conduct its spiritual work under auspices of a local church, but could conduct its ministry on its own. The scales in heaven had been stacked sky high with our prayers and those of our friends, with the result that the dear Minister’s hand and pen just moved automatically to sign on the dotted line. “Thank you Lord, thank you, thank you, thank you.”



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