E4. MOZAMBIQUE AND RIVONI MINISTRIES
FOUNDING OF RIVONI MINISTRIES
One day, as I was driving back from Mozambique, my heart was so filled with the joy of the Lord, that I sang out loud and worshipped and praised Him for about an hour and a half. Then I sensed that He wanted to speak to me and so I kept quiet and waited on Him. His presence became very real and He spoke into my heart and said: “Ben you have been ministering to the Tsonga people for quite some time. You have seen their spiritual need. Will you, from now on, give your life that they may be saved?” I drew a deep breath and replied “Lord I am not a brave man, but I am willing to go a very long way for their sake and I will trust You to give me the boldness to pay whatever it may cost.” Peace flooded my soul and I knew that my imperfect offer was accepted by Him, the Shepherd of my soul. When I got back to Pretoria, I shared my experience with Martie and, having prayed about it, she confirmed this new calling which the Lord had for us.
We then approached our mission society, sharing this vision with them. They, however preferred that the status quo continue, which entailed that we remain in Pretoria, continue with the country-wide radio and cassette ministry and see the Mozambique outreach as a sub-division of that ministry. We understood the Mission’s standpoint since it was operating in six different countries in Africa and could not channel so much of its resources into one specific ministry.
But there were other pointers indicating that the Lord was opening the way for us to devote all our attention to Mozambique. One of these was that a new border post was being established on the eastern border of the Kruger National Park, roughly opposite the town of Phalaborwa which adjoins the western border of the Park. This would provide a short cut into Mozambique and was expected to open shortly.
During a short holiday we visited Phalaborwa to do some reconnaissance and to pray that the Lord may reveal His will to us. We actually spoke to the Kruger Park officials, went to see how the border post project was progressing and returned home, even more convinced than before, that the Lord wanted us to carry out the vision He had given us.
The question was how to do this without the support of the Mission? We would, right from the start, also have to take over the expenses in regard to the Light Bearer ministry. Yes, we had some cash in the bank, paid out to me in a lump sum when I resigned from the College, but we had no pension fund and this cash was to see us through till the Lord would take us to the Country where money was no longer needed.
Health wise, working in Mozambique was also quite a risk because of malaria, cholera and other diseases, especially at our age – I was 65 and Martie 4 years younger. These were just two of the challenges facing us, should we decide to launch out on our own, but if the Bible was the truth and nothing but the truth (which we knew to be an indisputable fact), God would, in answer to obedience, faith and prayer, provide every cent we needed for ourselves as well as for the ministry into which He was calling us. How, and through whom, He would provide the funding, was His secret. We would issue a newsletter regularly to inform interested people about our progress and leave it to Him to call some of them to support the work financially and to pray for us. We would also, right from the outset, be praying for younger people to take over as soon as the work was properly established.
Having made up our minds, we then approached the Director of the Mission, requesting him to release us in order that we might launch out into this ministry where the Lord was calling us. He was sorry to lose us, but respected our vision and accepted our resignation. Our last working day with the Mission was to be the 31st of October 2005.
As a practical measure, it was decided that we continue to handle the compiling of the Shangaan radio program, for we would be in a better position to do so than the Dorothea Mission. They gave us some recording equipment for this purpose. In the short time at my disposal, I trained a member of their staff, the person in charge of the printing press, to handle the remaining Chichewa program and one of the women to take over the cassette ministry from Martie. In so doing, we could tidy up everything before leaving and it was such a joy and comfort to us that we could leave the Mission, not under a cloud as the previous time, but with the Mission’s blessing and with relationships intact.
Soon afterwards we obtained a lovely spacious flat in Phalaborwa we had seen during our visit, then got a pantechnicon to transport our furniture, while we travelled by car.
On the 1st of November 2005, this new Mission to the Shangaans of Mozambique, Rivoni Ministries, was founded. (“Rivoni” is the Shangaan word for “Light”.)
The Shangaan people living within Mozambique total about 3 million and live mostly in the three southern provinces of Mozambique, namely Gaza, Inhambane and Maputu. Our vision was to cover these three provinces with as many Rivonis (Light Bearers) as possible, providing them with suitable equipment, thorough training and continual supervision and assistance for them to turn the Shangaan nation into disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. Better equipment and visual materials would be researched and provided and we ourselves would spend most of our time in their midst.
Not many people believed that we would succeed. Members of our church, friends and even close relatives asked us questions such as: “Do you know what you are doing?” “Have you heard correctly from the Lord?” “This is what yóu want to do, but what does Gód say?” I was even accused of heartlessness, taking my wife into such harsh circumstances, just to satisfy my own desires. The Spirit of the Lord countered all these arguments and accusations by reminding me that whosoever followed the Lord wholeheartedly would be persecuted. Another incident which came to mind, was when the Lord Jesus was accused by his own brothers of “wanting to be on everybody’s lips” while He was only doing what his Father had sent Him to do. Martie too, knew better and supported me all the way, even when the going got really tough. My response to these prophets of doom was simply to answer them in the words of Nehemiah when he set out to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem: “The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build ………”(Neh 2:20)
MORE ABOUT MOZAMBIQUE
Before continuing with our story, let me first share some interesting facts concerning Mozambique with you.
(Information gained from the Mozambique website, Patrick Johnston’s book Operation World and Peter Hammond’s book Killing Fields of Mozambique)
- Capital city, Maputo, 2,2 million people.
- Urbanites: 28%.
- Total area: 799 380 sq. km.
- Maputo province: 23 576 sq. km. Provincial capital Maputo.
- Gaza province: 75 450sq. km. Provincial capital Xai-Xai.
- Inhambane province: 61 615 sq. km. Provincial capital Inhambane, where the Portuguese established a permanent settlement and trading post in 1534, making it one of the oldest settlements in Southern Africa.
- From North to South the distance is 2800 km. with 25 rivers, including the Zambezi and Limpopo, to cross, making travelling very difficult.
- Total: 22 898 m.
- Maputo province: 1 037 344, that is 44 inhabitants per sq. km.
- Gaza province: 1 207 200, that is 16 inhabitants per sq km.
- Inhambane province: 1 170 685, that is 19 inhabitants per sq km.
- Literacy: 40% official; 20% functional.
Unsound economic policies and thirty years of intensive guerrilla warfare as well as natural disasters such as cyclones, floods and droughts, have impoverished the population. Up till 1995 when peace came, this was one of the poorest countries in the world but at the time we got involved in its spiritual welfare, it had become one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. It will, however, take a long time before the rural people that live off the land, benefit by the change.
It was a Portuguese colony for 470 years before it became independent in 1975 as a Marxist-Leninist state. A guerrilla war ensued till 1995, when the two opposing parties came to an agreement and instituted a multi-party democracy and market based economy.
- As in the rest of Africa, ancestral worship is the basic religion of the population.
- As regards Christianity, under Portuguese rule Roman Catholicism prevailed and Protestant ministries were restricted or forbidden.
- It is said that during certain periods, many Christians, and especially pastors, were martyred because they would not deny the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
- This suffering created a spiritual hunger and, at present, Mozambique shows a very fast church growth in some provinces. Yet there are many tribes and vast areas that desperately need the preaching of the Gospel and training of believers and pastors to become worthy disciples of the Lord.
In 1995 when we launched Rivoni Ministries, we felt that Mozambique was crying out to the Christian world: “Darkness has enveloped us for so many, many decades, now bring us the true light that we may have the joy of walking in it.”
BLESS THE LORD FOR HAVING GIVEN US THE OPPORTUNITY OF MAKING A DIFFERENCE TO ONE SECTOR OF THAT POPULATION!
Have you enjoyed reading this page, or do you disagree with what was said or do you have questions? Please share with us whatever is on your mind by using the “REPLY” window provided below.