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OUR STORY – Chapter F3




The year 2013 started in rather a shocking way in Mozambique as a flood swept over portions of the Gaza province. Heavy rains had been falling in South Africa, building up masses of water in the Limpopo River that caused it to overflow its banks and sweep away everything in its path. At some places it overflowed some kilometres into the adjoining lowlands. It was estimated that 130 000 people were displaced and some 30 to 40 died. Human bodies as well as animal carcasses were seen drifting down the river. The flood hit Chokwe, a major town where we bought our supplies, on 23 January. Hundreds of people were caught unawares. Some managed to flee to higher ground but hundreds were trapped and climbed onto the roofs of buildings where they remained for some days before being rescued. Our bank was also flooded and for many months afterwards we had to travel more than 100 kilometres to draw money.

Our headquarters suffered no damage because we had built it on higher ground but some of our co-workers lost most of their possessions, fortunately escaping with their lives. We immediately set about sending supplies to our people although it was very difficult to reach them due to the roads being washed away.

The Word states that to them that love God, all things work together for good (Rom 8:28). It seems that this text has a wider application, for in the wake of the flood that wrought havoc, especially in the Gaza province, we experienced a flood of mostly unconverted people enrolling as students in our discipleship classes as the following statistics indicate:

Number of students January – 552 March – 679
Number of classes January  41 March   52
Number of part-time teachers January 14 March 16

Some people blame God for what they suffer, but others see his goodness for keeping His hand over them during catastrophes and seek to know Him more intimately afterwards. During such times they realise that man’s life is like the steam escaping from a kettle, that exists but for a moment and then disappears.

We were so grateful to be right amongst the Mozambican people and that our co-workers that had also lost much of their property, could not only identify with their plight, but also impart hope, teaching them about Him that came down from heaven to suffer for us so that our suffering will end here on earth and not be carried over into the world that is to come.

Regarding the number of students: I remember that some 7 years before, when this work began, we were ministering to 3 students. The Lord multiplied them like the loaves and fishes so that they now totalled 679.

The bigger the work grew, the smaller we felt. We saw it as the Father glorifying his Son and the Son glorifying the Father and the Spirit glorifying both Father and Son and we as workers were each just playing a minor role in this expanding picture of His grace towards us, an undeserving humanity. There were moments when we felt as if we were standing some distance away on a hillock, watching a work being done by someone else, a work which we were not really part of. I felt like saying: “Lord I wish you would come down and be with me that I may humbly ask You: ‘What are You doing down there; What are your plans for the future; Where are You heading’?”

One would end up by just praising His Name, adoring Him, relishing His presence and then get down there and play one’s little role and pray that He may empower one to continue for another few years.

Numbers are thrilling, but individuals are fascinating. One must never forget that God does not just look at the number of people, but looks right into the multitudes and there His eyes of love see real people with real longings, grievances and fears, facing real challenges and His heart is moved for them: the Marys, Johns and Peters and He sends forth his Spirit to minister to each one individually according to their needs. I can never read the story of the Samaritan woman (John 4) but sense that awesome love of Christ that searches out the ones written off by society, gently bringing them into the fold.

This was also the situation at Philippolis. The number of students that attended was still very low, but during two successive Sundays in April, we saw a movement of God’s Spirit in the Poding tse Rolo class. On both occasions there were a number of people whose hearts were touched by God’s Spirit and they expressed their desire to accept the Lord as their Saviour, the Coverer of their spiritual nakedness. How warmly the heart of the minister of the Word glows when he sees tears welling up in the eyes of those that have just prayed the sinner’s prayer to obtain forgiveness and to be born into the Father’s family. Incidents like these motivate one to pray till late at night and go on and on and thirst for more and more of God’s grace and anointing. That is why I say: numbers are interesting, but individuals set your heart aglow, fuel your spirit.

In Mozambique, some 200 km to the east of our Chinhacanine headquarters, is the strategically situated, sizeable town of Ndindiza, nicely laid out by the Government in its endeavour to develop the interior regions of Mozambique. There are quite a number of official offices, even guest houses, etc., and the town has the potential to develop into a major settlement.

We targeted it as a discipleship district centre, built a house there during the latter half of 2012, appointed Andrea and Emilia as District Superintendent couple and settled them there by the end of October, having some doubt as to whether they would cope, being quite young and fresh from training. They surprised us by gathering 22 prospective students and opening their first class on 23 November. Then came the December holidays when the Mission closed down for 4 weeks and thereafter, as from 23 January, all activities at Ndindiza were disrupted by the flood. As a matter of fact, Andre and Emelia were separated from each other for about three weeks, since he was at Chin when the rains came and swamped the roads so that he could not return home.

We were now, some five months later, pleasantly surprised to receive the following report from him: “The work is growing and progressing nicely at Dindiza, and now I have started another class of Government workers who are occupied during the course of the week. I teach them on Saturdays. I had a class of 22 students and now I have another class of 12 students.”

We are also amazed at the growth in the number of classes in three of our older districts, as the following statistics show:


No of classes

Number of students

Chinhacanine (Where our head office is)



Manjangue (West of Chin)



Mabalane ( North of Chin on the way to Zimbabwe)



In between the work of keeping both Missions going, we were trying to keep our bodies in shape. Martie was still “walking for life” just about every morning soon after daybreak, except on Sundays. She was doing some 5km, at top speed. I would not even consider joining her, for I would have disgraced myself, jogging along in full view of our small-town, window-peeping community. She recently participated in a fun walk and gave a good account of herself. (Thank you Lord for an up and about wife that keeps me on my toes.)

As for me, I got myself a “brand new” used cycle, a beautiful Merida Road Racer 901, pearly white, spotless with a white helmet to go with it and made up my mind to do the Cape Argus Cycle Race in March of the following year. I had completed that 108km race at the age of 53 in 3:45, but that had been 20 years earlier, so this was going to be quite a challenge.

During May we were delighted to receive scores of testimonies from Mozambique of students who had completed their courses, of which I quote a few. They not only testified to having accepted Jesus as Saviour but also of the change this had brought about in their lives. Truly the new birth is the point of departure for cultivating a brand new character:

Lucrencia: “I used to expose and advertise the failures, sins, and the evils of other people, including my husband, but now I am totally different and a new creature. The Rivoni Ministry course rescued my life the day that I learned of how God covered the nakedness of Adam and Eve, and that lecture touched the practical part of my life.”

Albertina: “I hated and disliked almost everybody, including myself and I hardly ever smiled. Everybody was my enemy and I barely had a friend, but my life turned around the day I learned of how everybody, including myself, was made and created in the likeness and in the image of God.”

Simon: “I stole my class mate’s books, pens, food and money, but my turning point came when I learned about the consequences that followed after Jacob robbed his brother of his blessings.”

Nomsa: “I was always worrying and fearing before, but now I am at peace since the day I learned about God’s unlimited provisions even in the wilderness.”

Nilda: “I believed in evolution before, but now I am so blessed by the Rivoni course. It enabled me to discover the truth about human origin and creation.”

Sandra: “I am growing in understanding and blessed day by day as a result of the Rivoni course, especially the symbolic things from the OT which point to truths in the NT.”

Den: “I used to be a “Christian” drunkard, but things turned around the day I learned about what happened to Noah as a result of drinking wine.”

By August, though the general spiritual drought at Philippolis still held the people in its grip, we were delighted that the class we had started some two years before, was still doing very well and that we were even seeing new faces attending our Thursday evening meetings. Praise was exuberant with Martie leading with her guitar and one of the students, Elsie beating and shaking the tambourine. It blessed our hearts to see the new attendees also being gripped by the teaching. Man needs heavenly manna and spiritual waters for his soul.

Elsie and one of the new students were going out on house visitation every Wednesday and she was also raising a small choir in Poding tse Rolo where she and Meintjies, her husband, have their home.

Together they had also begun to reach out to two nearby farms on Sunday afternoons, to share the lessons they had been taught in our classes. To one of these farms they had been invited by a couple that had found the Lord during one of our classes earlier that year. When we visited one of their meetings a couple of weeks later, we were so delighted to see with what enthusiasm all those farm workers were worshipping the Lord and even participating in other kinds of ministry such as giving testimony of what God had done for them. Others would open the Word, read a verse and explain what God had told them through that Scripture portion.

In those days of turbulence in our country, with thousands of people striking and burning tyres on the roads and daily reports of corruption and maladministration of funds by Government officials, it was so good to see the other side of the coin; to see what God was doing, to see that He was building His Kingdom. What a pity that the television crews would not sometimes also film these uplifting events.

A major part of my work still consisted of writing study guides for our local and Mozambican students. This consumed much of my time. It is something that you cannot just sit down and do, like peeling a dish of potatoes. You cannot just start typing. You really need to dig into the Word of God like a prospector searching for gold. You need to do research, reading as many commentaries as are available and most of all listen to the Spirit of God. The end product must have both depth in teaching and simplicity in explaining the truths in order that even those that have very little education, may benefit by it. During the previous months I had written study guides on 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians and Ephesians. I also wrote notes on the first three chapters of the book of Revelation.

In Mozambique, by the middle of the year, 98 students were awarded their certificates, many of them being male (especially) pastors. This was exceptional, for in most areas men made up a minority of the population because so many had died in the cival war and some had left to take up employment in South Africa.

Of the 23 students at a village called Muzunguya that had passed their exams, 65% (15) were illiterate, which means that the lessons had to be repeated to them over and over to enable them to remember the material. Oral exams then had to be taken, that is, every student had to be examined individually. Much effort is required to “make disciples” out there in the rural areas.

Pastor Lazaro Uthui, one of that group of students, testified: “Since I became a student of Rivoni Mission, the work of pastoring became easy and is no longer a burden to me.”  His reason for saying this, was that he was now able to answer the questions asked by his flock and had ample spiritual food, derived from the lectures, with which to feed them on Sundays.

In Mozambique, during 2013 our student numbers reached an all time high of 724.

At Philippolis, towards the end of 2013, we decided to turn our sitting room (lounge) into a Praise and Worship room and equipped it with an audio mixer, high quality loudspeaker (donated by an audio shop in Bloemfontein) and a video projector to project songs and videos onto the wall. (These items we had brought over from Mozambique when we relocated to Philippolis.) (What a wonderful wife the Lord gave me, a true Gospel partner that was willing to open up her home for the making of disciples for His glorious Kingdom that is shortly to be revealed to us in all its splendour).

You may be asking whether I did justice to that beautiful cycle I had bought on the 6th of March. Indeed I did. I took part in the Bloemfontein OFM Classic cycle race over 106km and completed it in just under 4 hours; an average of approximately 26.6km per hour. With this I was well pleased. The Lord, the Lord, He just manipulated all the elements to favour me for there was hardly any wind – and that in the Free State! Martie assisted me so much and in so many ways: preparing pastas two days in advance, holding the cycle for me when needed, waiting in the car while I was on the road! Bless the Lord oh my soul! The successful completion of this race also counted in my favour for the Cape Argus cycle race in March the following year, affording me a more favourable starting position.

Martie and I had also been having very special times with the Lord just about every morning from 7.45 to 8.30 during the latter part of the year. Though we were also praying for the work, our children and other relatives, etc., we were, first of all, concentrating on praising and worshipping Him. His presence during these times was sometimes awesome and one felt like Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration, not wanting to leave His special presence and getting back to one’s daily routine.

At the end of November Francois and a number of other Mission friends attended our Mozambique team’s year-end function at Chinhacanine on which he reported as follows:

When planning the trip, rumours of war in Mozambique picked up and reports were received of attacks in the northern part of the country, but after seeking God’s guidance in prayer, we left Pretoria on Thursday, 28 November around 05:30 am and travelled through to Mozambique without any incidents. Our group consisted of Wimpie Vorster, his wife Marelize and their four children in their Renault Megan Scenic. With me in the Toyota Hilux D/C was Bruce Hay and Gideon Kriel. The last part of the tarred road had sufficient potholes in which to plant a field of maize. From there, Baloi led us over a very wet dirt road with many deviations. We got to Chinhacanine by 10:00 that evening and were grateful to be accommodated in Baloi’s two roomed flat.

We were up by 05:30 for the main meeting was scheduled for 09:00 am. Some 60 to 80 local pastors, network leaders, community leaders, government officials as well as many friends and relatives of the ‘graduates’ attended the ceremony. The spirit was fantastic as the students came walking in, singing ‘Glory to God’, all dressed up smartly, the women in white blouses and black skirts and the men in white shirts and black trousers, all students wearing a red sash across the front. The colour of their apparel was symbolizing Christ’s red Blood washing away the black sin, leaving them white as snow. It was all very grand and beautiful. This was such a special event to those people that live a simple life, yet in their heart of hearts have a desire for the greatest of all, which is Him, the Creator of the Universe.

After the graduation, there was a special meal, deliciously prepared as only these people can do in the simplest of ways. All the attendees fellowshipped together, enjoying one another’s company, then, one by one, the guests and visitors departed and only the staff remained to clean up and pack away the utensils.

Just after 14:00 all 8 superintendents gathered and Bruce taught them the essence of farming God’s way. This is a well developed economical way of tilling the soil and covering it with available material to preserve the moisture. (It was a useful practical lecture for we are intending to assist our leaders to gradually begin to provide in their own needs.)”

One of the other Mission friends, Wimpie Vorster commented as follows:

It was remarkable how quickly we came to love these people. We sensed the attitude of their hearts. The Holy Spirit was present in the meetings, even the demons fled. We had a life-changing lesson in really praising God in total surrender as a group. We saw sound training, effective systems, practical material provision, and wise long-term planning. What has been instilled into these leaders is yielding great and good fruit. We got excited about their unity as a team. The Word is effectively transmitted from one disciple to the next. For our children this was a first experience outside the borders of our country and good cross-cultural exposure. They spontaneously joined in to play with the local children. It was a very positive experience for our whole family and an introduction to a life and calling of which we are dreaming.

At Philippolis we planned our closing meeting to be just a Christian love meal but the Spirit of the Lord had more in mind. On sitting down after we had worshipped, one of the ladies spontaneously began to testify to the blessing the classes had been to her during the past year.

The situation at Philippolis is that church members receive very little spiritual nourishment in the churches they belong to, either because there is no real flow of the Holy Spirit or because they do not have full-time local pastors, so they have to nourish themselves when gathering on Sundays.

We were astounded to discover that for many of them, our ministry had become the pipeline through which the Lord was feeding and building them. In a nutshell: they had become ‘addicted’ to the discipleship classes. Just about everyone testified and they all basically said this same thing.

A young woman originally from Bloemfontein, said she had been hungering after God but did not seem to be able to break through to the Lord while attending a strongly Evangelical denomination there, but in our classes she could ask all the questions that had troubled her and that was how one night she got to understand the Gospel, accepted the Lord Jesus and now knew for certain that she had been born again by His Spirit.

We were also delighted by the testimonies of two teenagers telling of the challenges they were facing at school and in their homes and how they were overcoming these because of the knowledge they were gaining by attending the classes.

That closing night, the Lord opened up the curtain for Martie and me to glimpse just a little of what was happening in the spiritual realm and what a lovely surprise it was!



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OUR STORY – Chapter F4




We are now into April 2014.

Rivoni Ministries is still prospering. In February we had a very blessed Executive Committee meeting as well as our annual General Assembly Meeting in Pretoria. Our members are more strongly motivated than ever before and are coming forward with all sorts of innovative ideas to further the work and even to get more involved on a part-time basis.

The Mission’s work in Mozambique is also doing well. Towards the end of last year, a record number of 724 students enlisted. Martie and I are still directing the work from our base at Philippolis and Baloi is blossoming as Field Director out there at Chinhacanine. That weekend he went to Mabalane with the Nissan diesel pickup we recently bought him. He went there to deliver building materials for a cooking shelter and ablution facilities for Nelson’s house.

At Philippolis we are also keeping our stride. The spiritual climate here definitely is not the same as in Mozambique; the going is much harder and one has to press forward determinedly. Thus far we have not been able to gather in armfuls of sheaves as in Mozambique, but have collected them one by one as when picking roses. Those that joined during the first-year course are still with us, now doing their second-year course on the Gospels and the Book of Acts. On Sundays they attend the meetings of their own churches, but our classes have become their main source of spiritual nourishment, therefore they turn up every Thursday evening to be instructed in the Word and trained to walk with God. The Lord has also recently added another two young people. We did not go out and invite them; they just turned up and keep coming. Even young hearts hunger after God. Since we feel that our calling is primarily to the Coloured and African people, we have focused our ministry on them and this class consists mainly of people belonging to those two groups.

At the beginning of last month two English speaking White couples came to see me, requesting that we get together for Sunday morning meetings, for they do not feel quite at home in the local Afrikaans congregation. Since we already have so much work to do, I was reluctant to concede to the request, but in the end felt that I just could not turn a cold shoulder to them and agreed to commence with meetings this coming Sunday. We trust that the Lord will lead us and reveal His plans for the future in regard to this new venture.

When we came to Philippolis, the Lord gave me a promise from Ps 84:6 which reads as follows:

Blessed are those whose strength is in You, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.”(NIV) Some translations translate “Valley of Baca” as “dry valley.”

We have been standing firmly on this promise during all this time and have seen some fountains springing forth, some hearts yielded to Christ, but we are trusting the Lord for a much greater display of his power and grace.

Martie and I sometimes ask ourselves whether the time has not come for us to retire from a life of being so actively involved in Kingdom work for we have reached the ages of 70 and 73 respectively, but I just cannot see us doing so in the near future.

Firstly, the Lord has blessed us with good health. Martie walks 5km daily (except Sundays) at a pace not many ladies of her age would keep up with her. I cycle some 40 to 60 kilometres every second or third day. On 9 March I participated in the Cape Argus Cycle race around the Cape Peninsula. I had done that race 20 years ago at the age of 53 and completed it in 3:45. This time I completed it in 4:41. There were 31046 participants and my overall position was 15808, which means that the Lord enabled me to beat 15238 to the finish line (that is 49,1%).

Speaking of the finish line: what a thrill when, coming around the last bend, one sees the word “FINISH” boldly displayed across the road! Wow! The exceptionally strong wind, the endless Smitswinkel and Chapman’s Peak uphill climbs, the short but steep Suikerbossie, all of these have been overcome and one passes through the arch in victory. As I was still rejoicing, the Holy Spirit spoke within my heart, saying: “Now can you imagine the joy that will flood your heart when, having run the race of faith to the end, you enter in through the Gates of Heaven?”

Health is a most wonderful gift from God; a precious, precious gift and the Lord wants us to use His Gifts for His glory, therefore I think it is only fair towards Him that we invest a major portion of our good health in the promotion of His Kingdom instead of only amusing our grandchildren while waiting for our coffins to be delivered.

Then again, to part with the preaching of the Word is like giving up something you really enjoy. Although I am at times a bit tense, to me, preaching and teaching the Gospel is an addiction like that caused by alcohol. Before I found the Lord, I enjoyed sitting with my buddies at a pub’s counter, savouring our drinks and when the time came to clear out, we would always find a good reason to down just one more tot: “One for my blind brother; One for the road; One for the swing of the door.”

Experiencing the Holy Spirit working in power as on the day of Pentecost, often has that same effect on the preacher: it brings such an exhilaration in your spirit to see sinners captured and mellowed by God’s power that you never get enough of it. There always is the urge to see that happen over and over again. His works are so much greater than the puny efforts of man that you continually wish to place yourself in His mighty hand like the loaves and fishes and see Him doing a spiritual miracle greater than what you would ever be capable of.

One night in Mozambique after I had brought my testimony of salvation to a small group of people sitting around a campfire, my co-worker took over, making an altar call to those present to accept the Lord Jesus as Saviour. A couple of them did so and as I was looking on, I perceived the Holy Spirit coming down from heaven and entering into two of them. I cannot describe His appearance for I was seeing Him in the spirit but knew for certain that that was Him. I was so humbled that it seemed to me as if I was just melting into the soil on which I was standing. This does not happen every time one preaches, for God gives such a revelation only when it pleases Him and yet every time when somebody really turns to God the children of God who are in the Spirit and are looking on, experience this supernatural joy and once you have tasted it you want to experience it again and again and again.

It also is like the experience of a little boy walking past a table on which there is a platter heaped up with delicious cookies. The temptation to have one might be just too great to withstand. Having looked around to see whether anyone is watching, he would grab two or three, thrust them into his pockets and rush outside to find a quiet spot to munch his trophies.

Sometimes when engaged in the work of God, one can get very, very tired and be sorely tempted to give up and let others do the job, but when an opportunity arises to grab one or two more souls for Jesus, it is just impossible to walk by and leave them untouched. You will always find a reason for preaching the Word just one more time, to win just one more soul. And so it just goes on and on. Preaching and teaching the Word of God is an addiction and a temptation. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

To a person who has been preaching the Word of God for some time, it becomes like flying a kite. For a kite to keep flying way up yonder in the sky, you need two things: firstly a strong wind and secondly a fishing line or something similar with somebody holding onto the line. The moment the string is cut, the kite will shoot up higher for a couple of metres and then fall, out of control, straight down to the ground. For a preacher to continue flying high in the Spirit, he must remain connected to his calling to proclaim the Gospel down here below. Once he voluntarily lets go of that, he will flounder, lose his special anointing and become mediocre in his experiencing of the life of God. Meditating on God’s Word with the purpose of sharing it with others, the deep intercession for souls worked by the Holy Spirit and the complete surrender to the speaking forth of the words of God, together make up the string that anchors the preacher to his calling and keeps him flying in the Spirit.

Then there is also the supernatural vision of the Kingdom of God. Above all else, I believe this is what has kept me going when the going got really tough. I always had this sense of the immensity of the Kingdom of God which He is in the process of building. To describe it in words is just impossible for it is a spiritual awareness of that great Kingdom which cannot be seen by human eyes. Whenever I got discouraged or just lacked in motivation to give myself for His cause, the Holy Spirit would clear my inner eyes and I would see this glorious Kingdom stretching further than what man can see or measure, a Kingdom encompassing the furthest galaxies of stars. My spirit would then be revived and I would say: “Wow, this is enormous, this is worthwhile working for; let me give it another go; let me lay another couple of bricks into the eternal wall of Jerusalem; capture just a few more souls, a few more citizens for that glorious Kingdom which has firm foundations and will never come to an end.”

Oh dear Lord, please keep this vision vivid within my spirit until the day I cross the border and see the reality of that which I have only perceived dimly down here below.

To become a bricklayer, to participate in the building of the walls of the New Jerusalem, is a privilege offered by God to whosoever presents himself to the Master Builder, saying: “Lord, here am I, use me.” Having read this narrative up to this point, it must be clear to you that Martie and I are two very ordinary people. You would have seen how many, many mistakes we made, how we often moved in the wrong direction, how we rebelled against those placed in charge over us, how we messed up again and again and yet, the Master Builder did not reject us.

He was great enough to override all our shortcomings. What He saw was the measure of willingness and faith to be used by Him, the desire burning within our hearts to build some golden bricks into that eternal wall. At a time when I totally despaired, when I was deeply convinced that I had utterly failed in everything I had tried to do throughout all my life, He, He the Lord Jesus Christ, stood by me, saw my tears, picked me up, equipped me as a builder on which there is a platter, put the tools into my hand, gave me a wife who had the heart of Jesus and sent us to accomplish something which we could, at the end of our lives, behold and with deep humility see to be a work of God.

I am not saying that the name of Rivoni Ministries will survive or that the structures will remain forever: they may fade away but the work done in the hearts of people will stand forever. God has erected temples for himself where His Holy Spirit can dwell out there in Mozambique and also at Philippolis, and this gives Martie and me a deep gratitude.

Should you ever meet us personally, you will see the truth of what I am now saying. You will see that we are just simple people; not clever, not endowed with brilliant personalities, not having the faith of Abraham or of Paul, but just two vessels made from the clay of the earth; vessels that have been blessed and given the privilege of carrying the Message of Hope for a while; vessels that will be superseded by other greater men and women of God; vessels that will, after they have passed into eternity, soon be forgotten but that will stand before that glorious Throne carrying a number of sheaves harvested for the Master during the time of their pilgrimage on earth.

Therefore dear brother and sister may I implore you to stand still for a couple of moments and contemplate the Great Commission of your Heavenly Master which He gave to His disciples as well as to you, before departing for heaven: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you for ever more.” (Matt 28:19&20) He has spoken to you; now it is your turn to answer Him. Won’t you do so: either in the words of Isaiah: “Here am I, send me,” or in the words of Paul: “Lord what will You have me do?”

Have you done so? From this very moment God will set powers in motion to lead you forth into His field of service. In the beginning it may be something very small, like just testifying to a friend about what Jesus means to you, but as you continue day by day, new exciting fields will open up to you and you will discover that you are being used way above your natural ability.

It may well be that someone who is reading this book has come to discover that he or she has never met with God. Like the jailer at Philippi you may now be on your knees asking: “Lord what must I do to be saved?” Dear friend it is so very, very simple: all you need to do is to acknowledge that you are a lost sinner in need of the Heavenly Saviour of souls. Do you believe this? Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God that came to earth and died on the cross to pay the full price for your sin? Do you believe that He rose from the grave, ascended to heaven and is ready to return to this world for his Bride? If this be so, seal the deal by praying to Him in the following words: “Dear Lord, I have sinned, I am lost. Lord Jesus I do believe that you paid the price for my sins on the cross. Please forgive me and accept me as your child. Holy Spirit come into my life and change me to become like You. Thank you Lord for what you have now done for me. Amen.”

If you have prayed this prayer in faith, your sins have been forgiven and your heart has been made anew by the Holy Spirit. Now go forth and serve your Lord with all that is within you and the joy of the Lord will put a twinkle in your eye, a spring in your step and add colour to your days!



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OUR STORY – Chapter F2




One day, as I opened a tap in the garden, the powerful jet of water through the hosepipe caused it to behave rather like an agitated snake, slithering all over, pointing this way and that until I could put my foot on it and pin it down. In the process everything in the area got wet, even my clothes and glasses, but once I had the nozzle firmly in my hand, I could direct the water to wash the mud off the car and then water the garden.

I thought this was a picture of a Christian organisation blessed by zeal for promoting the Kingdom of God but without visionary leadership; its thrust lacks direction, it wastes its resources and is ineffective. When our hearts are dedicated to God the blessed Holy Spirit will flow through us powerfully, but we need to direct our ministry according to His guidance. We do not only need His power but also His wisdom in everything we do.

That was why we were always training leaders at every level within the Mission. In so doing one sometimes has to stir the food in the pot and move people from their comfort zones. This is what happened to the Muiambo’s. Having finished his training, Nelson had to take over the Mission office for, apart from Carlos, he was the only one who had some knowledge of using a computer. He did very well and also obtained his driver’s licences, both for the Ford pickup and the motorbike. Come 2012, however, we had to move him and Tina from the “civilized” Chinhacanine, right out into the bush at Matitze and bring the Baloi’s to Chin for training. Baloi was delighted for being afforded the opportunity of receiving computer and driving school training free of charge. He was a mature Christian and would, in due course, be able to take over Carlos’s responsibilities if need be.

We were still receiving assistance from various supporters in South Africa for which we were so grateful for it alleviated the burden resting on Baloi’s shoulders. During February, Fanie and his secretary went down to Chin in his vintage Landy and painted the walls of the community room, Baloi’s house, the offices and some of the internal walls of the flat. They also put up a beautiful ceramic wall ornament hanging of a dove and cross made by Stephanie.

From our base at Philippolis, Martie and I were still continually monitoring the spiritual work that was being done. Every discipleship class teacher had to keep a record of classes held and the names and number of attendants. The following figures were submitted for Jan-Feb 2012:

Number of discipleship districts : 6

Number of classes held weekly : 32

Total number of students taught weekly :447

As said before, training comprised teaching the students the Word of God, assisting them to walk with God and training them to work for God.

At Tomanine, another 32 students received certificates for successfully completing their Old Testament discipleship training course. One of them was an old man of 70 plus years, called Ruben Ussico who testified as follows:

“I thank God for my salvation. I did not know anything about the God of the Bible. I only knew and served unknown gods. To honour them we used to tie the horns of cattle and other symbols to tree trunks with skins of goats and cats. We thought we were pleasing our ancestors. To these gods we gave our children, and our beer which they could not drink, so we drank it ourselves. I offered many offerings to these gods but I never had peace in my life.

However, now I thank God, though I’m in the old age, I got encouraged when we learned about Abraham who also became a child of God in his old age just like me. God told Abraham to leave his country, relatives and his father’s house and to go where He would direct him. I’m also in that process. I have not yet arrived in the heavenly land of promise; that is why I’m still studying. I was just a churchgoer, but I was not a born again Christian. Now I have taken that step and I have also stopped smoking and drinking beer. I thank my teacher Titus Chauque and the Rivoni teachings that brought light to my life.”

In the mission field, funds always seem to be in short supply. By the end of April we wanted to deploy the two couples that had completed their training, but to do so, we had to build two additional houses, one in each of the new districts. We challenged our supporters to assist us in this matter, pointing out that when Solomon built a temple in Jerusalem, such a wealth of contributions were received that the whole structure could be covered in gold. That building was later totally destroyed when the people of Israel were taken into exile. The temples we were building by means of the discipleship classes, were the lives of human beings and would stand for all eternity. Surely that was sufficient reason to invest even more generously in this cause.

Another two of our board members who paid a visit to Chinhacanine, Willem and Maureen Raubenheimer, wrote to me saying that they were so impressed by:

  • The spiritual depth, maturity and total commitment of both the leadership and staff.

  • Their organizational and management skills.

  • The unity within the team.

  • Their long term vision for Mozambique.

  • Their knowledge of the Word.

  • Their overflowing love for our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • The excellence of the work: “Our hearts were touched and we have great respect and expectation for the work of the Mission. We feel privileged to be part of this amazing work in the remote region of Chinhacanine”.

At Chicualacuala, some 537 kilometres from Maputo and right on the border with Zimbabwe, where we had posted Americo and Lucy Uthui, who had just completed their training, the first fruits were also now reaped in that 42 students having a clear testimony of salvation completed their course on the Old Testament on 24 April (2012). Even the Administrator of the district attended the “graduation” meeting. There at Chicuala, a man called Paul Chauke, aged 91, found the Lord and completed his course successfully – just in time to catch the train to Glory Land!

At Mapai, some hundred kilometres south of Chicualacuala where Adalberto and Juvencia Mathusse had been posted, 20 students now “graduated”. What was remarkable about this group, was that most of them were men, of whom many were elders and pastors of local churches.

Hoyo-Hoyo, 110 km from Chinhacanine where Martie and I had ministered some seven years before at which time I fell ill with malaria and had to rush back to South Africa, had in the meantime been visited once a week by one of our teachers from Matitse, travelling the 40 km either by bicycle or public transport. This class also now yielded its harvest, namely 12 students that had successfully completed their first-year course. Money and effort well invested! Praise the Lord!

The next step of faith was to be the erection of a house for Andre and Camellia Canhane, a couple that had recently completed their training. We did not have the funds for this project but the Lord told me to do as the priests did when the River Jordan had to be crossed. They took up the Ark and walked towards the river as if they were going to walk right across the water and when their feet touched the water, the river opened up before them. So what we did was to buy cement with the funds we had available and put Andre and Osvaldo to work by manufacturing cement bricks. Once they had completed this job, the Lord supplied the materials as well as a qualified builder to assist them to build the house and, before the end of the year, Andre and Camellia could move in.

At this time Carlos started to present our third year discipleship course for the first time. This comprised the letters of the New Testament from Romans through to Revelation. I was hoping to find suitable existing material for the lectures, but some of what was available was too superficial, and the rest went into too much detail, so I would have to compile suitable lectures myself. Although it drains one’s energy and takes up a lot of time, it is a tremendous spiritual blessing for it compels one to reflect deeply on the contents of the letters Paul wrote to the churches he had established, also giving a deeper insight into the complexities and weaknesses of human nature. Completing all those lectures within a period of twelve months, seemed to be an insurmountable mountain range before me.

Training news from further afield, was that new fields of service were continually opening up; invitations that we had to consider. Some two months earlier, a reporter from the Mozambican radio network recorded the proceedings and had interviews with a couple of students at one of our “graduation” ceremonies held at Chicualacuala, which he subsequently broadcast. A community leader, Arone Chauque from a town called Matuba, tuned in and later on commented as follows:

I was not interested in tuning in to this program, thinking that it was just so much political propaganda, but listening to the recordings made at Rivoni’s two big ‘graduations’ at Mapai and Chicualacuala, I was convinced that this ministry was from God, and I therefore encouraged the whole community to come and study the Word of God here. I will also join the class if time allows me. We as Government authorities can only be convinced if what you teach is what you do, then if it’s like that, we will depend on (trust) you”.

A certain couple, Ezequiel and Felicidade Zunguene, was trained by us for two years, completing courses on the Old Testament, the Gospels and the Book of Acts. We then appointed Ezequiel as a part-time teacher of our discipleship courses.

While being thus engaged, he felt the Lord calling him into full-time ministry. They were members of a well known reformed, evangelical denomination that had its own theological seminary and was quite strict on doctrine. Ezequiel decided to enquire what he was to do and travelled all the way to their seminary.

On hearing his testimony, the principal of the institution submitted him to some tests and found that his knowledge of the Word, as well as his application of Biblical truths, were sufficient for him to be allowed into the ministry and ordained him as minister. He then returned to his congregation where the board of elders appointed him as their pastor. This congregation was close to our headquarters at Chinhacanine and Ezequiel was now, in addition to his pastoral work, running a discipleship course for a group of 13 of his leaders under our supervision. In this way the Lord was enabling us not only to be a blessing to individuals, but also to strengthen the local churches.

A question we often have to answer is whether people that have such strong roots in ancestral worship, do actually make a clean break when they accept the Lord Jesus as their Saviour. The answer is: “Yes they do, for the Truth, when heard and believed, sets you free.” Let me, as an example, refer to Fenias Zunguene, pastor of a local church and teacher of one of the discipleship classes, but before doing so, let me explain certain of the ancestral worship practices.

When covering up a grave, cuttings of plants are to be stuck into the ground and water poured over it all while everybody is looking on. This is done to honour the ancestral spirits, thereby supposedly ensuring sufficient rain for their crops. After the funeral, either the witchdoctor, or a Zionist prophet is to be consulted as to the desires of the spirit of the deceased person. In addition to the instructions received, the spouse of the deceased is to be dressed in black for a period of one year, as a sign of being spiritually and physically unclean. At the end of that period, the person is to be washed in the blood of an animal. In the case of a woman, she also has to sleep with a man for three nights to be cleansed.

When Fenias’s wife died, the whole community buzzed in expectation of what he was going to do, because both he and his wife had not only been students, but also teachers in our classes. He was under tremendous pressure from the numerous relatives but during the following days of mourning, he stood up and, to the consternation of the unbelievers and relief and joy of the Christians, boldly declared that he would follow none of those heathen practices, for he had received the Truth that had set him free. In so doing, he displayed the same undaunted spirit as Elijah on Mount Carmel and Gideon when he chopped down the “sacred” tree of baal.

By the end of June (2012), our student numbers had risen to 503.

By the end of August the house at Ndindiza was completed. (Ndindiza is some 140 km east of Chinhacanine.)

No matter how fast we endeavoured to expand, the need for more classes and teachers was continually confronting us. Our district superintendent Americo wrote from Chicualacuala (on the border with Zimbabwe): “The challenge which I am facing is that I receive invitations from very distant places, to where there is no means of transport. Recently we opened a new class at Hoxaribye, a distance of more than 60km south-east of Chicualacuala. My former student, Anana Chichongwe is taking it.”

Adalberto Matusse, stationed at Mapai, bordering on the Limpopo National Park, wrote: “People are continually begging us to teach them like those at Cumbane and Madulu. These places are far away to reach, 30 to 40 km away from Mapai town.”

In Mozambique, distances like 30 to 40 km do pose a challenge, for to reach such villages, one has to travel through deep sand by bicycle. When it rains, one often has to shoulder one’s bicycle and make a long detour by foot to bypass a marsh or find a place to cross a river. Our three co-workers at Matitse, for instance, when travelling to some outposts like Ngatsha, have to cross the Limpopo when in flood by rowing boat, then cycle the 50km on the other side of the river to reach their destination. Having presented the class, counselled the members and sometimes also their relatives, they sleep over for the night then return home the next day and, on arrival, take another class.

Adalberto, also wrote: “The work is progressing and growing day by day, and we are now having a total number of 4 classes, 3 of which I am taking and one conducted by Amos Chauke, one of my former students. The most thrilling thing is to see the determination of the church leaders we are teaching, becoming good role models to their churches.”

Nelson Muiambo reported from Mabalane: “There is good progress at Mabalane. People are continually inviting us to teach them, especially those across the Limpopo. We had 4 Old Testament classes and now we have 6 of them, plus 3 second year classes on the four Gospels and the book of Acts, which gives us a total number of 9 classes, and we are very proud of this progress.”

Titus Chauke stationed at Tomanine reported: ”I’m very happy and satisfied with my second year GA class at Chivonguene. All 20 students are consistent and persistent, and now they are persuading me to open an Old Testament class there at Chivonguene which is a long way from here and I may have to appoint an assistant to take it.”

Gloria Simango of Manjange (our only female, but effervescent, superintendent) said: “I’m very proud of my class at Nkumba. I started with 18 female students, but now there are more than 24, and 6 of them are males. This is the very first time for me to have 6 male students in my class. Up till now I only graduated one male student at Manjange. These men are very inspirational to the female students. Glory to God.”

Assuredly, our work was not in vain, we were not beating the air, we were not running aimlessly but were effective in the ministry that God had assigned to us.

Examn time for some second year course students.

At Philippolis things were also moving. Our first discipleship class was planted on 11 August 2011, germinated slowly, grew gradually, blossomed eventually and, after a year’s faithful tending, watering and pruning, yielded some fruit. God’s promise contained in Isaiah 55:11, is true to this day: “ shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” The students’ Bible knowledge was tested by means of written and oral exams and their lives observed over a period of time. The leaves of camouflage had been parted and the fruit of the Spirit scrutinised and now we could rejoice to see a few healthy fruits in the basket.

In this regard, one of our students testified as follows: “Some time ago, we belonged to a congregation of a well known denomination. The local pastor, however, did not minister under the grace of God. He applied the Law without mercy. If someone had even slightly deviated from God’s way, he would say to him ‘Get out; put your jacket over your shoulder and get out of here.’ He was no blessing to us. We often returned home from church more upset than on going there. This caused us to join a congregation at a neighbouring town. When it was founded, the leaders were really on fire for God. Later on however, the pastor said he had had a dream that he was to buy and wear a certain cloak. He did so and nowadays he pours water on it and has the members pass through underneath to receive an anointing. We seldom go there and they seldom come over here. Locally three elders from another congregation once came to pray for us after their Sunday morning service. As they entered our home, I could smell that they had been drinking. After praying for us, two of them left and one remained behind. I said to him: ‘Where have you been after your church service, before you came to us? Are you not ashamed before God, drinking and praying together?’ He replied:’Two of my children have died because of AIDS. One of your children also died for the same reason. Are you still following God?’ I replied “Nów you are giving me courage; nów you are setting my heart on fire. I will serve the Lord even more earnestly. I will serve him with all my heart till the very last moment of my life.’ This is how things are with us on the spiritual level and that is why we appreciate these discipleship classes so much. The very first night while listening to the Word that was brought to us, I smiled and said: ‘This is now the old, old Gospel we heard as young people.’ We have been blessed so much. Some evenings, on going there, we felt spiritually low and tired, but right away our hearts were revived. And so here I am now, me and my wife, ready to take a class next year as the Lord enables us.”

Another student, a woman in her fifties, expressed her gratitude for the discipleship classes, saying: “On listening to the lectures, it was as if I heard the Word of God for the first time. Recently I related at our Sunday morning service the whole story of Joseph and the lessons we learned from it. The people were so blessed.” She hardly missed a class during all of the 12 months of training, achieved 89 % in her Bible knowledge exam and was also ready and eager to take a class of her own the following year, while, at the same time, attending our second-year course.

On Christmas Eve (2012) we made a huge “Jesus Reigns” banner, affixed a couple of balloons to a pickup and took to the streets, accompanied by a number of our discipleship course students as well as our two grandchildren who were visiting us. We did this in the late afternoon. By that time most of the people were at home, sitting around in small groups, listening to music or playing games. We sang joyous songs proclaiming the birth of our Lord. What touched my heart was that the people roaming in the streets or sitting around their homes, seemed to be like sheep without a shepherd, like children in want of bread. The memory of those enquiring faces is still haunting me.

The first fruits of a crop are always very special and this is what we reaped at Philippolis when our first group of students received well earned certificates for successfully completing their discipleship course on the Old Testament after a year’s faithful attendance and hard study. The following is one of the testimonies brought that night:

Whenever I attended a funeral and looked on as the coffin was lowered into the grave, fear gripped my heart because I knew the day would come when I too would have to travel that road and what would happen to me afterwards?”

In the course of the year, at our discipleship course, we repeatedly explained the way of salvation and once told how Noah and the animals only had to step into the ark to be saved. The student who had this fear of death was one of those that responded by entrusting herself to the Lord Jesus Christ and afterwards testified:

Now my fear of death is replaced by joy. I have become enthralled by the Word and read chapters ahead of what we are dealing with in class. At our church meetings and also when attending funerals, I now always have something fresh from Scripture to share with others. This has been a great year of my life.”

In Mozambique too, the year closed on a joyous note as, apart from those that took exams earlier in the year, 168 students passed their exams during November. Of these, 122 had done the course on the Old Testament and 46 on the Gospels and the Book of Acts. They had now become real disciples of our Lord, understanding His heart and mind, able to testify to his sanctifying and sustaining grace in their lives and some of them able to conduct discipleship classes of their own.

Our 9 full-time and 14 part-time teachers/trainers had worked very hard and we commended them for their devotion and the effort they put in to achieve these results.

How grateful we would have been if our Mission’s income could have increased to a point where we would have been able to have raised their monthly allowances, for they found it hard to make ends meet.


Our year-end function was also attended by two of our board members, namely, Francois du Plessis and Willem Raubenheimer. Willem was accompanied by a friend who was interested in the Mission’s activities.

The function also had a sad side to it in that we had to bid br. Carlos Mauelele farewell. He would be taking up the responsibilities of moderator for his church denomination. He had been serving the Mission for many years and rendered valuable services as vice-director since April 2011 when Martie and I relocated to South Africa. We entrusted him to the Lord, praying that the Lord would bless him in his new ministry and enable him to lead his church to greater heights.

During December (2012) we were so privileged to have two of our grand children, Francois (17) and Monique (18) with us for 14 days during the holidays. (The previous year we had them with us for four weeks visiting one holiday resort after another.) This time my brother and his wife put their home at Oudtshoorn at our disposal for 7 days from where we travelled to Heroldsbaai, Hartenbos and Mosselbaai on 5 different days. What a wonderful time we had: swimming, playing darts, putt-putt and other ball games and one day “Oupie” (Grand father) cycled 85 kilometres on a dirt road with Francois, chatting and fellowshipping all the way.

What blessed us most of all, were the times that we worshipped the Lord in song while travelling to and from the coast and the Bible studies on the life of Joseph who, when he was abducted as a teenager and facing tremendous challenges, overcame them all by God’s power, and rose to the throne of Egypt at the age of 30. We were touched by their eagerness to receive teaching, teaching they could take home and apply to their lives. (At their age I was so rebellious and did so many things that I am ashamed of today.) Francois was asking one sensible question after the other and Monique testified to how they were singing the Gospel songs in their minds while playing on the beach.

Francois would be matriculating the next year and Monique had enrolled in the University at Potchefstroom to be trained as teacher, for she had the desire to develop the lives of children.

At our age, it was, apart from the ministry in which we stood, so important to us to see our children and grandchildren devoting their lives entirely to the Lord and we were indeed fortunate to see this happening. Shortly afterwards our other two grandchildren, Iwan and Janko (aged 9 and 7 respectively) were baptized to express their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. What a privilege for grandparents to be able to instruct their children in God’s ways, pray for them and then stand back and see the work the Holy Spirit does in their lives!



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OUR STORY – Chapter F1





On 3 January 2011 we were back in Mozambique with hearts filled with hope for the future and eagerly looking forward to the days ahead to experience the unfolding of God’s glorious plans for us, for He had given us a special promise for that year, namely Jer. 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Right from the start some very interesting testimonies of what God had accomplished through the discipleship classes, were recorded. One of these was by a part-time teacher, Monica Macuvele:

Before I joined the Rivoni classes I did not know what it was to be saved, nor the meaning of salvation. I attended church services and I was a Sunday School teacher but I did not know the Bible. Then I joined the classes and discovered that I was not born-again. I was full of anger and jealousy and I went to the Zionists to get lucky charms to be loved by my husband. I also went looking for traditional (witchdoctor) medicine in order to fall pregnant.

But I thank God for the teaching that came to me through Rivoni Ministries, for it came just at the right time. At the beginning I did not understand what our teacher was talking about, but after a month, a change came into my life. As I accepted the Lord Jesus as my Saviour, peace and joy filled me and I started to encourage other people to come to the classes.

Things went well for almost a year but just when I was about to receive my certificate for successfully completing the first year course, my husband decided to take a second wife. I was so upset that I got seriously ill. With the teaching and counselling I got from our teacher, I kept pressing on but things were tough on me. During this time of trial I thought deeply about the truths I got from God’s Word and applied them in every situation I was facing.

Then the Lord touched the heart of my husband and he decided to take me with him to South Africa for hospital treatment, but once there, things changed for the worse. Both my husband and his second wife treated me badly. She accused me of many things I knew nothing about. The stress caused me to become totally despondent and I decided to commit suicide.

However, as my heart was in turmoil, the lessons I was taught in class were continually going through my mind; the stories of Joseph, Sarah, Esther, and all the promises of God, all these were reviving me. I continued trusting God and praying and then the situation changed. My husband accepted the Lord Jesus as his Lord and Saviour and let the other woman go. He now loves me once more and the Lord loves me and healed my body.

I have now returned to my home here at Chinhacanine where I have been appointed as a Rivoni teacher and am teaching a class of my own, for these truths from God’s Word have greatly helped me and will do the same for my students.”

Another interesting testimony was given by a certain Jonas Hlungwane:

During the Mozambican civil war, I was a soldier. Then peace came to the country, but it did not come to my heart for I was strong-willed and fought whoever did not share my views. I was a member of a local church but I did not know the contents of the Bible, nor what God required of me.

When Rivoni Ministries started with Bible classes at Chinhacanine, I joined a class and then saw myself as God saw me. I saw the anger in my life and the deceitfulness of my heart for, just as Jacob cheated his father and brother and his uncle Laban, I too cheated many people to gain things for myself. I also slept around with many women, yet being jealous of what others had.

It took me a long time to make right with God. For six months I fought Him as Jacob did that night at the river Jabbok. Gradually light dawned for me and I began to understand what our teacher was teaching me. Then I gave myself into His hands and accepted the Lord Jesus as my Saviour. He also became my role model and my life. Peace and joy welled up in my heart and as a child of God, my life took a drastic change.

Since then, however, I have had to face many challenges. My nephew stole my wife away from me and took her to South Africa. Things got very tough but with the teaching I got in the classes and the counselling of my teacher, I pressed on and walked as God wanted me to. I overcame the situation in a Christian way. Today my wife is back with me though not yet born-again, but I am praying for her and trusting the Lord to save her too. We were married in the traditional way many years ago but are planning to enter into a Christian marriage by the end of this year.

I am continually busy giving to others what I myself have received from the Lord and I encourage them to come to the Lord and to join the classes. I have also been appointed as a Rivoni teacher and am running a class of my own at Mubanguene. Praise be to God for what He has done for me.”

By then (Jan. 2011) we had 12 part-time teachers that had emerged from our classes and were running their own classes under our supervision.

On 5 and 12 February, we had “graduation” ceremonies for 24 students, 12 at Tomanine and 12 at Manjange respectively. For some students, those that were unable to read and write, it was a tremendous achievement for they had to commit all the teaching to memory over a period of 12 months and then do their exams. Things of real value do not come cheaply.

Nelson’s home at Chinhacanine was completed and they were so delighted to have a place of their own for their family of 5. They fetched their belongings from Macia and moved in on 20 February. The three roomed house with veranda and a cooking shelter of 6.25 sq m was built at a cost of approximately R34000.

We also received news from Carlos who went north to Mabalane, Mapai and Chicualacuala with the Ford pickup to see how things were going at those outposts. His SMS report read as follows: “I’m now at Chicualacuala. 1. Every church has sent its pastor to enlist as a student in our classes. 2. Most of them are confessing that they had never heard such teachings as Rivoni is giving them. 3. The number of students is increasing. 4. The unity brought about amongst churches through our ministry, is drawing the attention of the local Government. Your son in the field, Carlos Mauelele.”

In the midst of all this blessing, something unforeseen happened that was to drastically change the course of our lives and of the functioning of the Mission. It started off by me going down with a bad bout of malaria on Friday 12 February (Martie’s birthday anniversary). What made it worse was that I mistook the symptoms for flu or some other minor ailment, with the result that the malaria got a head start of two days. However I responded well to the medication we had with us and by Monday, I was somewhat better and able to drive back to Nelspruit as previously planned.

Back “home”, I was surprised that I just could not quite recover. Come Thursday, I realized that something was seriously wrong with my stomach, and the next day Martie had to rush me to the hospital in a borrowed car for our pickup was in for repairs. By that time I had become delirious and knew very little of what was happening around me. Martie, wonderful Martie, apparently helped me to undress, put on pyjamas and put me to bed. A doctor promptly attended to me and treated me for an unknown intestinal viral infection. Countless litres of fluids without names were infused into my bloodstream while my mind was running around in circles.

In Mozambique, infections of this kind can be very serious and often result in death, as was the case with missionary friends of ours that were stationed some 90 km from Chinhacanine. Both husband and wife were much younger than us, in their 40s. On the second day after the wife started suffering from her stomach, her husband took her to the nearest hospital, at Chokwe, but was told that they could do nothing for her and that he had to rush her down to a hospital at Xai-Xai, some 20 km from Chokwe. He set off immediately but she passed away before they reached their destination. Apart from the terrible grief he had to bear, he was also burdened with the mountains of red tape and the astronomic costs involved to have her body removed from Mozambique to South Africa to be buried. This had to be done post-haste in that hot climate in the absence of refrigeration facilities. (With this in the back of my mind, whenever I fell ill in Mozambique, it was aggravated by the thought of what Martie would have to go through, should I pass away before managing to cross the border into South Africa.)

To be treated in South Africa in a hospital where the staff went about their duties in a very professional way, was like a foretaste of heaven, and once I knew what was happening around me, in between the waves of pain, I just kept on praising the Lord over and over for his great mercy in bringing me out of Mozambique and putting me in the hands of these caring angels. By Monday morning I had somewhat recovered and was able to discuss the situation with the specialist who was treating me. He told me that he himself had been a missionary in the Okavango Delta for three years but had to leave due to ill health, and because of my age and the fact that I had on three occasions suffered from serious intestinal disorder, advised me not to return to Mozambique at all.

When Martie came to visit me, I shared this with her and as we prayed about it, the Lord confirmed by his Spirit that this was it; our time to go into Mozambique in person, had come to an end and we were to find ways of sustaining the work from South Africa.

My first concern was that we would lose the financial and prayer support we had built up over the years. I immediately wrote a newsletter, informing our Mission friends of what had happened and encouraging them not to lose heart, thinking that this was the end of the Old Chap and of Rivoni; by no means. As God’s servant in Mozambique, I had been floored a couple of times but at the count of 6, a Hand from heaven had touched me again and again and I had bounced right back to my feet and the devil had fled to his corner.

Our second concern was to get our office staff to take over immediately from where we had left off. How grateful we were for the foresight we had had (worked by the Holy Spirit), to train them and to work out procedures, forms and returns to guide their footsteps along the way. There were, however, problems caused by our sudden departure. One of these was the fact that they had not been using the Internet and did not know how to communicate by e-mail since Martie and I had been doing this up till then. They did not even have a modem to connect to the Internet and would not be able to get one in Chokwe.

In this, the Lord helped me out and I found a taxi in Nelspruit that was going to Chokwe and was willing to take a modem and anti-virus program to our office at Chinhacanine. It arrived safely and within the next two weeks they set up an e-mail connection. From then on, we were in continuous contact with one another and they could send me copies of all their books and registers on an ongoing basis.

The Lord also provided people to go to Mozambique for 3 to 4 days at a time to assist our team in practical matters. A couple, Francois and Dot du Plessis, volunteered to do so. They were much younger than us and had led several teams into closed countries to spread the Good News, so they knew what they were up to. God always has his people ready. For every Moses, there is a Joshua.

Though there were risks involved in transferring our responsibilities to Carlos, Baloi and Nelson all at once, I felt at peace for I knew that Rivoni Mozambique was running on all 8 cylinders. Its Mozambican leadership and workers had been well trained and its structures and work procedures thoroughly developed. This was actually a very appropriate time for us two oldies to take just one step backward for a younger generation to feel at liberty to try their skills and flex their muscles.

Then of course, God was still in charge. He never abandons something He started. He delivered Israel from Egypt, then led them through the wilderness and right into the Promised Land. He founded Rivoni Ministries through two elderly people and He would mature it to full manhood. Praise be to His Name.

As soon as we were convinced that this was indeed the will of the Lord for the future, we made our last trip to Chinhacanine where we had toiled for almost 6 years and also lived for 3 ½ years. Once there, we moved into overdrive, sorting out the remaining computer and administrative problems. We also held a board meeting which included the local pastors, interviewed three new couples and accepted them to be trained to head up three more districts and then packed all our smaller items, leaving our furniture behind in the flat for Francois and other VIP’s to use when visiting Chin. We also left all our tools behind.

Farewell to our Rivoni team at Chinhacanine.

Then came the farewell function. The following is an extract from the closing address of our vice-director, Carlos:

John, the Apostle of our Lord Jesus, was in exile at Patmos because of the Gospel when he wrote the Book of Revelation I am now studying. This Book is all about warning Christians that have grown apathetic and encouraging those that are faithfully enduring the struggles of this world. It reassures us that good will triumph over evil, it gives us hope as we face difficult times and provides guidance when we are wavering in our faith. I saw that the message of Christ to the churches is a message of hope for all believers in every generation. That is also what Oom Ben and Tannie Martie have been to us during the five years that we have been together. Like John they had spiritual eyes enabling them to see the Lord Jesus in the midst of the churches, strengthening them and warning them. For them, living in Mozambique was like having been exiled because of Christ, yet they have succeeded in their calling.”

Praying for Baloi and all the other leaders.

I spoke on servanthood. Then, came the time to say goodbye. The less I say about that, the better, for to be uprooted from the daily presence of the people whom we had served for more than six years, from the soil where we had lived, toiled, prayed and shed so many tears, was such an intimate experience that one feels that words might just scar those tender memories. Let me therefore not belabour our grief and sorrow apart from saying that we will never ever forget the last morning when the caravan with our earthly possessions was hitched, the pickup’s engine idling and with us standing bedraggled in a little group with Carlos, Baloi and others, the tears streaming down Carlos’s cheeks, Baloi’s face etched with sorrow and the question “why” in his troubled eyes. “Why was there always a day of parting for people that had come to love one another? Why was there a grave at the end of every road, why, why, why?” Yes we knew the theological answers very well, but that did not lessen any of the pain.

For the last time we travelled through Chokwe, down to Macia, then on to Maputo. Again for the last time we went through the Rosano Garcia and Komatipoort border posts, arriving at our flat in Nelspruit in the late afternoon, physically and emotionally exhausted. This was on 12 April 2011.

In the meantime, since 15 February when I fell ill, another important event had occurred. As I sat watching the television one Sunday evening, the phone rang and I was surprised to hear the voice of a niece of mine living in the Philippolis district. She told me that they had a house in Philippolis which had been vacant for many years and which they had just recently renovated. It was almost fully furnished. She wanted to know whether we would not be interested to come and live there. The thought did not really appeal to me but I promised to think it over. I discussed it with Martie and the longer we thought about it, the more sense it made, for we would save R5000 per month on rent and in managing and directing the Mission electronically by means of e-mail and SMSs, the distance from Mozambique would make no difference at all. It might even have been a blessing in disguise, for we would not be so easily tempted to rush back in and give practical assistance should our team experience problems. We travelled down to Philippolis, stayed over in the house for a couple of days to get a feeling of it, then returned to Nelspruit, convinced that the Lord wanted us to make this move.

So, the very next day, after arriving at Nelspruit from Mozambique, we stuffed the rest of our belongings into the already full caravan and pickup and set off for Philippolis, some 917km from there. Since we left Nelspruit in the late afternoon, we only got as far as Bethal (260km) where we parked and sat sleeping in the pickup till near daybreak when we continued to Philippolis.

After setting up our office and buying a few extra pieces of furniture during the next few days, the reality of the radical change that we were about to experience, hit me head on. I remember cycling out on those quiet district dirt roads, stopping in the middle of nowhere, sitting down and just thinking of the future. Many questions were going through my mind such as: “Who am I now?” “Where am I going?” I brought these before the Lord, expecting Him to come back to me with some extraordinary revelation, but what He said was simply this: “In the year 1971 while you were attending a camp, I called you into my full-time service and that call still stands, so it is up to you to decide what you are going to do about it.” As simple as that! Though I did not, at that stage, see the road ahead quite clearly, at least it was a tremendous relief just to know that there was a road ahead, that I had not come to a cul-de-sac, without any further purpose in life.

Have you ever seen the routine in your daily living as a blessing? When asked the question: “Do you love routine?” most people would answer right away: “No, I don’t; it is a burden to me; it is boring.” But have you ever considered the blessing contained in it? Not having to plan one’s days, day by day, minute by minute, is a blessing in disguise. Just to know that: “I must get up at five, have my quiet time, shower and get dressed, have breakfast at 6:30, take the bus at 6:45, walk into my office at 7:30, open my e-mail and answer it in order of importance,” makes life so much less complicated. I however, had to write my own job description from scratch and change it week by week. As I did so, the Lord guiding my steps, my future became clearer.

First of all we realised that retiring and settling in a comfortable little thatched cottage on a windswept sand dune at Lambert’s Bay, was definitely not on the cards. During the days and weeks following our arrival at Philippolis, we were actually moving ahead as fast as ever to keep the Mozambique Mission on track. At times we felt like two children on a tractor tube, swept down a river, swirling around in the current, bouncing over rocks or ducking under overhanging branches, but what mattered in the end was, that we were making very good progress.

In Mozambique too, the team was feeling the pressure. Carlos, as Field Director, was suddenly catapulted into the hot chair where I had been sitting for about 6 years, organizing, planning, counselling and making decisions. Initially he faced enormous challenges in getting his and Nelson’s e-mail and internet service going properly, for it collapsed every now and then. Scanning in of documents and taking photos of the buildings that were being erected, then compressing and forwarding them to us, initially also caused him many headaches, and also frustration for us for we had to explain all these procedures by e-mail or SMS but, after 2 ½ months we were beginning to smile and relax for the sweet smell of victory was in the air.

Under Carlos’s supervision, an ablution block was completed, as well as a new toilet. This would bring great relief for there was only one toilet and one washing room that at times were shared among more than 20 people.

On the spiritual side, we also had reason to rejoice, for our number of students was continually increasing so that we now had 478 enrolled students with 389 (81%) regularly attending classes. (Some, especially the men, sometimes left for South Africa in search of jobs and those that did find employment, had their wives joining them, causing us to lose some of our enrolled students). These figures, to my mind, compare favourably with home groups/caring groups/cell groups of churches in South Africa.

Encouraging testimonies were also received regularly, for instance: when brother Américo started with a class at Chicualacuala, a certain pastor declined his invitation to join it, saying that he knew the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. During the next Sunday morning service, an interesting incident occurred. Noticing one of his members that was enrolled as a student, the pastor asked him to share what they had learned at the Rivoni classes. (He was actually trying to make fun of him in front of the congregation.) The student responded by asking him a question in turn, namely: “Do you know what God created on the first day?” The pastor laughed at him, then said: “Heaven and earth.” The Rivoni student replied: “Wrong! God created light on the first day.” Because of this embarrassment, the pastor went to inquire whether there still was a space for him to join the class. Brother Américo of course welcomed him. So, when the next class began, there he was. God be praised!

Another testimony came from Carlos, telling us about an experience he had had: “We have lately had Zionist groups joining our classes. As you may know, they are very Old Testament orientated, majoring on colourful cloaks, ropes and staffs connecting with Moses and the priests. One day I carefully explained to one of their pastors, the difference between the Old Testament Covenant which the Lord had made with Abraham and Israel and His New Testament Covenant with us as Christians. Suddenly light dawned on him, but instead of rejoicing, he got so angry with me saying: ‘Why have you only now come to explain this to us? We have been kept in the dark all these years! I have made so many mistakes in teaching my congregation.’”

At Philippolis I was now applying about 80% of my time to deal with checking the registers forwarded to us by e-mail, such as the bank summary, cash summary, reconciliation statement, cash flow account, sub-account records for the different districts, “graduation” register, classes register, trip logs and expenses registers for the Ford and the Fadade motorcycle, etc. Add to that the monthly budget, budgets for the buildings and reports regarding the spiritual work that was taking place all over, and it amounted to a workload that kept us busy even during the evenings and over weekends. Martie was gradually having to bear a major share of this by seeing to it that all these registers and reports were received and ready for me to check.

Apart from the work pertaining to Mozambique, we were getting more and more involved with the local missionary work at Philippolis, regularly meeting with a number of people on Wednesday afternoons and visiting churches and farm meetings on Sundays. We were really excited about the way things were opening up for us to plant a work in this district, similar to what we did in Mozambique.

Francois, up front to the right with his wife, Dot, next to him and a group of supporters he took down to Chinhacanine.

During the year 2011, Francois also visited our Mozambique team for 3 to 4 days at a time during June, August, October and November, once accompanied by his wife Dot, and at another time by one of our board members. During these visits he rendered all kinds of practical assistance like doing electrical installations, giving advice in regard to the erection of buildings, etc. He also did much by way of encouraging our team members and speaking on my behalf at meetings.

These visits were a real sacrifice. On returning home to Pretoria, usually on a Sunday, he had to travel more than 800 km, arriving at home by 11 pm or later, then had to be up by 4.20 the next morning to be in time for work. He also bought a double-cab four-wheel drive pickup from his own funds and normally also bore most of the travelling expenses himself. What wonderful co-workers the Lord gave us to hold up our arms.

Our board member, Fanie, was deeply touched during his visit to Chinhacanine. He phoned me when he got home and told me that he had seldom in his life been so deeply blessed and when the time came to return home, he felt that he would rather have remained there with Carlos, Baloi and the team.

On 23 November (2011), Francois and Dot took a whole group of people from South Africa, who were interested in the work we were doing, including the pastor of his congregation and two seasoned missionaries from Jericho Walls International Prayer Network. They ministered to our team, praying for every teacher and student. That Friday morning they all attended our year-end function when 27 students and the three trainee couples received their certificates.

Another incident that had really blessed my heart during that year, concerned a small group of eight students that had successfully completed their first year course at a little village called Chate, way out in the bush. This was a very special victory for the Cross. Some 12 months earlier, these people had heard the good reports regarding the discipleship classes our district superintendent, Gloria Simango, was running at Manjangue and sent a deputation requesting her to come over and do the same for them.

I clearly remember the day when, accompanied by Gloria, we followed the winding tracks for 12 km till we eventually reached Chate. And there they were, a group of people gathered like the household of Cornelius, ready and full of expectation to hear the Good News of Salvation.

The decision whether or not we were to accept the challenge, was mine. What troubled me was that Gloria would have to make a weekly trip by irregular public transport, mostly overloaded lorries, on which she would have to perch on top of the swaying baggage. Would she be safe? Could she persevere for a year? Her eyes pleaded with me for a “Yes” answer and so did those of the little group of people before me. Inside of me the Holy Spirit confirmed that their request met with God’s favour and so, with a three to one majority, I could not but look up to heaven and say: “Yes, let’s do it”. And now we saw the fruit: 8 “Chatians” having successfully completed their course on the Old Testament and, what was more, they now knew for certain that they had been born into the Kingdom of God.




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OUR STORY – Chapter E14




In lighter mood: mountain biking. During all the years we had been living and operating in Mozambique I never stopped cycling. I had my mountain bike with me and some afternoons after work, I would mount it and cycle for some 12 to 20 km. Over weekends I would do between 30 and 60 km which was quite hard work because of the thick sand. I also fell a number of times but was never hurt. On relocating to Nelspruit, I took my bicycle along and enjoyed reconnoitring that hilly country. On a weekend early in September I saw an opportunity to enter for a mountain bike rally to be held between White River and Nelspruit. The distance was 25km. The terrain: uphill, downhill, through water, over rocks, speeding down winding little tracks with dense bush on both sides. Being very unfit, this was suicide.

After just seven kilometres my strength was totally spent and I determined to see a psychiatrist, should I ever get out of the bush alive, to determine why I tended to take such rash decisions. Well there was no sweep vehicle to pick up the stragglers and so I just prayed and carried on and on and on, crossing narrow rotten timber bridges, sometimes all alone. At last, there was Martie next to the track, welcoming me back to base.

Now here is the cherry on the cake: I was awarded a medal for gaining the third place in the category for Grand Masters, 60 years and over. But alas, the damper on my joy: when sharing my ecstasy with relatives, one of my daughters-in-law brushed my achievement aside, saying that there must have been just three entries in that category. What filial loyalty! That is why Martie and I rather fill our hearts with Scriptures like Neh 8:11 “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” Even missionaries need some fun.

At the end of each period of service, we should do as our Lord did: pause for a few moments of reflection. When He created the heavens and the earth, at the end of each day, He stepped back, had a good look at what He had brought about and concluded that it was good, very good. Reviewing the year 2010, we too were grateful for what God and others had done for the Mission and its members.

First of all, there was God’s ongoing work of grace in our hearts. Let me speak for myself. There were times when I was conscious of a hardness that had crept into my spirit, an unwillingness to bend and to yield. At such times I would seek restlessly for a way into the Holiest of All, into the deep, deep presence of God, but could not find the door. Then, after days of thirst, suddenly the Spirit of the Lord would draw me into His inner chamber and saturate my soul with the sweet humility of His Son. The veil would part and my spirit would become deeply conscious of the presence of my Creator. Tears would flow unhindered and I would know that life was all about Him. Cares and responsibilities would just fade away. I would yearn to leave this world and be in His presence forever. Oh, the tenderness of the love that flows from His Being. Oh, the grace of the Spirit to minister to us deep within our innermost beings. This was my experience and the experience of many of my co-workers.

Secondly, I paused, perceived and gave praise for what the Lord had done in the hearts of the wives of our co-workers. When God wants a married couple to leave their home, security and perhaps also their friends and go to some distant place in the course of their ministry, He would normally, first of all, speak to the husband who in turn has to convey the message to his wife – as with Abraham. To respond to that soft, whispering Voice, is quite a challenge to the husband, how much more so to the spouse that has to receive God’s guidance through her husband, a human being like herself and imperfect in so many ways. Is not the faith of our wives often greater than ours? Submission does not come naturally to the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve alike. Therefore, praise be to God Who had supported our wives in such a mighty way that they had not only been willing to follow our leadership, but had strongly supported us when we were weak and ready to give up on God’s calling.

Thirdly, I stood still and praised the Lord for our supporters that had poured funds, practical assistance and prayers of intercession into the ministry. These inputs had been our life-blood month by month, keeping us clothed and fed, providing roofs over our heads and keeping the wheels of our vehicles rolling to enable us to reach the unreached multitudes with the Message of Hope. Since the beginning of that year, an amount of R370 400.00 was deposited in our Mission account. Sometimes we were concerned that some of our supporters might be giving more than what they could afford, because of their love for us and for the ministry.

Towards the end of the year, Martie and I panicked when we had to dig deep into our own pockets to buy a Ford pickup for the Mission, and soon afterwards had to supplement the Mission’s income for that month in order to be able to pay out the allowances. However, once we had laid our financial sacrifice on the altar, we experienced the peace of God and sensed that the reason for the shortfall was not that God was unable to raise the funds from other sources, but that He wanted to test our hearts. He wanted to see whether we would cling to our blessings or would gladly return them to Him. He was testing our love for Him and for the people we were serving out there. The following month, the Lord responded by once more opening the windows of heaven and pouring into our coffers an abundance of funds so that we were able to pay the allowances and other expenditure, not only for November, but also in advance for December when all of us would be taking our annual vacation.

Fourthly, we paused to perceive the spiritual trophies won. Since the first of January, 160 students received certificates for completing their courses, either on the Old Testament or on the Gospels and the Book of Acts, and there were still three groups waiting to be examined before the end of November. These were not just decisions made during an evangelistic outreach, but proof of their commitment to the Lord. They had shown their sincerity by walking long distances every week to attend the discipleship classes, studying and memorizing the Word and applying its teaching to their lives. They had submitted to the will of God, they had been soundly born-again and their lives were bearing the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. They had turned their backs on ancestral worship. We were assured that they would not turn back for they were now rooted in Christ.

There were also many other blessings for which we could offer up praise to the Lord, such as:

    • The restoration of the house at Chicualacuala and for enabling Americo and Lucy to move in and commence with their discipleship ministry for that district.
    • The building of the house at Mapai and for Adalberto and Juvencia who would likewise be moving in early the following week to disciple their allotted district.
    • The registration of the Mission as a non-profit religious organisation, allowing it to operate independently to achieve its goal.
    • Nelson and Tina who had taken over as district superintendents at our Headquarters at Chinhacanine. Nelson was doing exceptionally well in the office as secretary and treasurer and would, within the next few months, be able to function independently.
    • The flat the Lord had provided for us at Nelspruit, which was a haven of peace where we had sufficient space to attend to the Mission’s matters when in South Africa (Before that, we had to set up office in our caravan and tow it back and forth all the time.)
    • The renewing of our temporary residence permits to work in Mozambique.
    • The acquisition of a Fadade motorbike to be used at Chinhacanine.
    • The Ford Courier pickup which we bought at short notice.
    • Trading in of the Pajero for the Nissan double cab.
    • Healthy bodies and joyful spirits. I cycled 40 to 60km early every Sunday morning when we were at Chinhacanine and during a visit to Nelspruit, Martie and I participated in a 10km walk/run. We did it in 95 minutes and came second last, but there were others behind us – on the sweep vehicle. What a joy it was to be amongst the young people and be part of the fun. The winner made it in just under 30 min! (If we heard correctly).
    • Commencement of the construction of Nelson and Tina’s home at Chinhacanine. It was being built of “ant proof” wooden poles, covered with chicken wire and then plastered with cement on both sides. The end product would have the appearance of a brick walled house.

Now let me say something about our holiday. The Lord laid it on our hearts to dig deeply into our savings account and take two of our grandchildren who had not yet had much opportunity of travelling the country, on a very special trip to let them experience His love and provision through us as grandparents.

Mart en ek saam met ons twee kleinkinders, Francois en Monique deur die Knysna Hekke en uit op die oop see op ‘n kragtige, opwindende boot.

How do two 66-70 year olds and two 15-16 year olds share a holiday, enjoy one another’s company and have great fun? By God’s enabling grace. The Lord actually wants His children to have real fun at times. He enjoys it through us. I would not be surprised if He calls His angels to His side to peer through heaven’s window saying: “Just look at that. Just see how the sons and daughters of men are enjoying what I provided for them!”

The following are just a few examples of the experiences we shared with Francois (aged 15) and Monique (aged 16):

    • Visiting relatives on their sheep farm in the Philippolis district adjoining the Orange River. Their thoroughbred horses stole Monique’s heart. 
    • Exploring the Cango caves. The Lord not only displays His glory in the starry heavens above, but also in the crystals of stalactites and stalagmites He meticulously constructed drop by drop way down below the surface of the earth. The children crawled through the “Tunnel of Love” the “Letterbox” and the “Chimney” in which (as you may recall) a certain lady once got stuck for several hours and threatened to sue the authorities for loss of dignity. “Oupie” and “Oumie” however, followed the guide along the more conservative route.
    • A camel ride at a resort near Oudtshoorn.
    • Camping at Plettenberg Bay in the For-Ever Resort: swimming in the sea, playing tennis, rowing on the lagoon. Both Francois and Monique were good athletes and kept up their training program. Some of the campers encouraged them by offering them cups of water as they went round and round the “track” in the caravan park.
    • A 9.3km hike along the coast in the Kranzhoek Valley. Time and again we had to climb the hill, then back onto the beach covered with cobblestones. Martie’s and my strength were taxed to the limit. We limped back the last three kilometres. The majesty and beauty of nature, however, was indescribable and well worth the effort and pain.
    • A speedboat ride. This was a brand new boat powered by two 250hp Yamaha motors. While inside the harbour, we asked the skipper to push it to its limit and, wow, looking ahead, we could at times hardly open our eyes for it was doing “doughnuts” across the water at just over 100 mph. Then came the real exhilaration as we went through the Knysna Heads, then jumped the waves out in the choppy open sea. On returning, we had to circle a couple of times before finding the right opportunity to enter into the harbour through the turbulent water.
    • Exploring the Castle at Cape Town. Looking back more than 300 years into history and seeing the pictures and works of men that had been, but no longer were, we realised the fickleness of man and the necessity of calling all men to get right with God before passing on to their eternal destination.
    • Catching sharks at Langebaan (size “Not applicable”)
    • The Two Oceans Aquarium at Cape Town and Francois and Monique having their photos taken “inside the Shark Tank.”
    • Up onto Table Mountain by cableway, then hiking right across to the other side of the mountain with our younger son, Jaco, his wife Debbie and their sons Iwan and Janko.
    • Another boat trip, this time in the Hout Bay area on the boat “Drumbeat,” viewing the black, shiny, slippery seals on Seal Island and “The Ship Wreck”.
    • Exploring Bird Island at Lamberts Bay on the West Coast. The thousands of Cape Gannets (Malgasse) living and breeding in freedom, fishing the seas and caring for themselves without any human hand to teach and assist them, was a lesson to us human beings that so often distrust the Lord our Provider.
    • Visiting Clanwilliam where Francois and Monique’s great-great-great-grandfather and -mother lived. We visited a couple of houses dating back to the previous century, but were not quite sure which one had belonged to our ancestors.
    • Hearts meeting around the Word of God. During the entire vacation, the four of us were meeting together and studying the life of Jacob from a Christian family perspective. Many questions came up such as:
    • Was it right for Dinah as a teenage girl to set off to explore the heathen city of Shechem all on her own?” (Gen 31)
    • How much liberty should parents allow their teenage children in order that they may develop, yet be protected from harm?”
    • The consequences that one member of a family’s misbehaviour has for the other members,” etc.
    • We were blessed, challenged and enriched by the insight and input of these two young people. On our last day at Lambert’s bay, they were so interested in discussing the topic on hand, that I had to remind them that we would have to cut it short for it was our last opportunity to swim in the sea, before returning home.

‘n Besoek aan die akwarium.

Oud en jonk saam om die Woord van God. So plant ons die Koninkryk van God voort, geslag na geslag!

After almost a month, we returned them unharmed to their parents. Our hearts were filled with joy that we could serve the Lord and our grandchildren in this way and we were assured that He would use this input to make the two of them grow up to bring glory to His blessed Name.



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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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OUR STORY – Chapter E12




On 28 February (2009) I wrote the following: “If there is one thing the devil is continually scheming to steal from us, it is our joy. Joy is the sweet honey of daily living that envelopes the hard crusts of labour and the bitter pills of disappointment and sorrow. So cheer up ye saints of God, let us enjoy ourselves, one-another and especially our Lord.”

We celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary on 27 January and Martie’s 65th birthday on 12 February and I, exemplary husband that I am, not only remembered both dates, but also gave her a fair sum of money to spend on clothes as she pleased. No, I was not bribing her to remain with me there in Mozambique, it was pure, sincere love expressed in a way most appreciated by the daughters of Eve.

During that time, we were at Phalaborwa for three days for our Mission’s annual general meeting and to attend to some other matters. We stayed over with friends and how they spoiled us, even inviting their friends to a birthday party they arranged for Martie. The Lord often expresses his love to us through our brothers and sisters. I preached in a certain congregation on Sunday morning and we attended another service in the evening. We also visited many of the Mission’s supporters.

Back at Chinhacanine we had our second meeting of the year with our co-workers and once more celebrated Martie’s birthday. Pita Matuassa delighted our hearts with a beautiful cake she had baked herself. Where she got the ingredients was a mystery. Having mixed the substances, she had to walk a long distance to a clinic to bake it in their oven, return home to decorate it, then, with the cake, her bag of clothes and all, walk half a kilometre, board a crowded taxi and, arriving at Chinhacanine, walk another kilometre to our place. “Thank you Lord for the love we were experiencing in the midst of toil.”

I completed another eight of the lectures on the Gospels and the Book of Acts, and only six of a total of 35 remained to be written. Nehemiah built the walls of Jerusalem with a trowel in the one hand and a sword in the other. I hit the computer’s keyboard with the right hand while swinging the fly swatter with the left. Every few hours Martie had to sweep the floor to clear it of fallen winged enemies. The animal droppings and open pit toilets provided fertile breeding ground for these troublesome insects. Scientific sources state that the common housefly has a lifespan of 15 to 30 days and is the carrier of 100 diseases including tuberculosis and cholera. What these sources do not reflect, is the emotional stress caused by these insects to both man and beast!

The Discipleship Course classes were progressing happily. Students in the north were suffering terribly because of hunger and those nearer by, worked in their fields from sunrise to sunset to assure a good harvest. Both these factors affected attendance of the classes. The Mission was now running 24 classes, in 16 townships, totalling 246 students (Some three years and two months after its founding.)

We were also in the process of recruiting three more couples to be trained and deployed in the north of the Gaza province. This was a major challenge. To train a couple would take at least a year to accomplish. They would also have to be housed. It seemed foolish to expand so drastically at a time when huge financial institutions all over the world were going bankrupt and we as a Mission were kept going by just a handful of supporters, but towards the end of the previous year, I felt the Lord telling me to do this and with good reason, for wherever we preached the Gospel, tears of repentance were flowing. Even Government officials were begging us to send teachers to their villages, volunteering to be the first students to enrol for our courses. The harvest was ripe and we needed to gather in the sheaves while the hearts were so open to God.

Nine couples attended a meeting where we outlined the Mission’s vision. We spoke in depth on the hardships involved and the vast difference between searching for employment and responding to a call of God. Abraham heard God’s call and ventured into the unknown, convinced that God would most certainly fulfil His promise to settle him in a new country and bless him abundantly. Likewise every one of our co-workers had to trust God and not lean on the arm of man.

Of these, we accepted three couples. All six trainees had already completed three years of Bible School training with other institutions, so the training of twelve months we would be giving them, would supplement what they had already undergone. Although we offered the training free of charge, with free board and lodging, it still would be quite a challenge to them for they were without much of an income and were depending on Elijah’s ravens to feed them and their children. What an opportunity to learn to trust the One that called them. What an opportunity to confirm their calling! (They were: Adalberto and Juventia; Americo and Lucia; Nelson and Tina.) The benefit of training both husband and wife was that, once they were out in the field, they would both be equipped to present training classes. Each couple would therefore be twice as productive as a single person.

Regarding the conditions of service of our full-time workers: although I do appreciate the necessity of Christian workers sometimes leaving their families at home when going on journeys to do the Lord’s work, I have always felt that a Christian organisation should do whatever it could to keep husband, wife and children together under one roof as much as possible. This affords them the opportunity of building strong family relationships which, in turn, provides a role model of a Christian family to their students as well as to the community at large. When a Christian worker’s marriage falls apart or his children go astray, he loses credibility and his ministry often collapses, especially amongst rural people like those whom we were serving in Mozambique.

Carlos was to do most of the training; training them in the knowledge of and insight into the Word of God, in Walking with God and in doing the Work of God.

As the Mission expanded, many practical matters arose which just had to be attended to. One of these was our obtaining temporary residence permits. Ever since we started working within Mozambique, we were allowed to enter for periods of thirty consecutive days only. This forced us to leave the country at given times, which sometimes was very inconvenient. We submitted an application and during April 2009, we were eventually issued with residential permits extending that period to twelve consecutive months. A further benefit was that these permits enabled us to open banking accounts and register vehicles in our names.

We immediately set about opening a bank account in my name to channel donations from the Rivoni Ministries’ South African bank account to Mozambique. This took quite some time for we had to convince the authorities that the funds were legally obtained and would not be used for illegal purposes within Mozambique.

Without further ado, we set about registering the Mission’s caravan and off-road trailer with the Mozambican authorities. Although this took many days of our time and cost us a considerable amount in terms of customs duty and registration fees, it was a tremendous help because we no longer had to remove the vehicles from the country every thirty days.

Another matter that had to be attended to, was the registration of the Mission within Mozambique. Since its founding, we had been operating under cover of the “Church of God” but the growth of the Mission necessitated that it be registered as a separate legal entity. After meeting with our co-workers and selecting local board members, we lodged our application with the Mozambique Government in Maputo with the assistance of a local “lawyer” and committed the matter to the Lord, for we knew much water would flow into the sea before we would hold the registration document in our hand.

Our kitchen and diningroom. Cupboards, both for the kitchen and bedroom, were built with low quality plywood. They looked good and served their purpose well.

During my lifetime I often had to do practical work and the experience I gained stood me in good stead in Mozambique. Though Martie and I had moved into our two roomed flat, it was actually just a shell and I had to do a considerable amount of work to make it habitable. I used sheets of low quality plywood to build cupboards, both in our bedroom and in the kitchen. These looked quite good and served their purpose very well. I also installed a wash basin and a shower in our bedroom and a scullery in the kitchen. All of these were supplied with running hot and cold water. The plumbing I also had to do myself. The end product looked good and I was so grateful that I could provide my dear wife with these “luxury” items to make life more bearable and uplift her spirit.

We sometimes received special gifts from people who had visited us there at Chinhacanine and had noticed a specific need. One such gift we named “Idropi.” She was pearly white, small in stature and stout around the waist. Two friends donated some money to buy her or otherwise we would never have given her a serious thought. She was a small (80 litre) hot water geyser, suspended from our kitchen wall. Unbelievably it was quite cold down there at times and “Idropi” (probably an Italian name for she was manufactured in Italy) was not yielding just one drop at a time, but cuddling us, head to toe, in her warm motherly embrace. What a delight. (Our rooms had no ceilings, only asbestos sheeting.)

At that time we also bought Joao a new bicycle for he was now serving a smaller area for which the donkey cart was no longer suitable. He beamed when we brought it to him and wrote a letter saying: “Kalimambo (Shangaan for ‘Thank you’), ‘Muito obrigado,’ (Portuguese for “Thank you very much”) for your donations to buy me a brand new, very, very good Fuji bicycle. It is so light and will not rust or get sand and water into its axles like the bicycles you buy here. There is no-one around me with a bicycle like this one. Now I can travel fast to take the Gospel lessons all over.”

At that time I wrote the following to our supporters: “Enjoy all the blessings you are receiving from Above: food, that early morning cup of coffee; a stroll in the garden watching the leaves turn to shades of yellow and brown; your children’s shrieks of delight as they play together; your dog’s welcoming bark and the furious wagging of his tail; a quiet evening drowsing next to your spouse on the couch in front of the TV, and the presence of your Saviour as you meditate on His Word.”

The caravan presented to us by Board members, Willem and Maureen Raben-heimer, proved to be a tremendous blessing affording us luxury accommodation out in the bush as here at Boavida Baloi’s home at Matitse in the Mabalane district. The suspension was lifted allowing us to traverse real bad roads.

The work at Mabelane in the north under brother Boavida Baloi had also expanded very well. His home town had received its share of training; as he put it: “At Matitse I have done my duty. If they ask for more, I will assist.” Training classes were also being run at the nearby Zone 8 and at Chipsane further away. The challenge, however, was to reach out to more distant places like Tsokate, some three to four hours of cycling along the sandy roads and footpaths. Once at Tsokate, he would minister there for three days running, before returning to base. For him too, we bought a new bicycle with a slightly lighter frame.

Extending our building at Chinhacanine. The brownish part at the far end was first built as living quarters for Martie and me and then three rooms were added, two offices and a bedroom for lady students being trained as district superintendents.




Extra people called for extra accommodation. To accommodate our students that would be visiting our headquarters for training as full-time co-workers, we needed bedrooms. We manufactured 800 cement blocks ourselves since the local products were of very poor quality, then got a local building contractor to add three rooms to our flat; two of these were to be used as offices and the third one as a bedroom.

During August (2009), we moved into our new offices. Martie and I shared one and Carlos had the next door one all to himself which was good, for he was often interviewing and counselling students and needed some space and privacy. The third room was used as a bedroom for the women that were coming for training. The men were accommodated in the freight container. The community room was then used as kitchen, dining-, lecture- and conference room.


When Mission friends visited us, we prayed together, then set our feet down in a corner of our premises, knocked a peg into the ground and asked the Lord to graciously give us water right there.

We drilled on the spot where we had put down the peg, found sufficient sweet water right there, then fitted the borehole with a submersible pump, stand and tank.

Martie soon had a sizeable vegetable garden going, supplying us with spinach, carrots, beetroot and potatoes.


On the spiritual side, things were also moving. On 23 July we journeyed to an outpost called Majimisi where seven students had successfully completed their course. Travelling there was a mission on its own. We circled the dense bush that surrounded the little village more than once, but failed to find the road leading into it. Once we had to chop down some bushes blocking our way. Had we not, on a previous occasion, taken the GPS co-ordinates, we might not have found it at all. On our arrival, the little group was gathered happily under one of the trees, not much disturbed by the delay. We had a delightful meeting during which I spoke on God’s Word as the primary source of wisdom for daily living and they all beamed on receiving their certificates. Two of them unfortunately did not pass their exams and to them we gave letters acknowledging their faithful attendance of the classes.

(In Mozambique, when you are awaiting someone’s arrival and enquire when he is expected, you will invariably receive the answer: “He is coming.” If, after another hour’s waiting, you repeat your question, you will again receive the stoical answer: “He is coming.” And so the process goes on and on, hour after hour, the same question and the same answer until the guest materializes without apology and is received with a hearty “Hoyo, hoyo” (Welcome, welcome.)

Another exhilarating experience we had during June, was our visit to a place called Mudjinge (about 40 km east of Mabalane.) We actually travelled to Mabalane, picked up Baloi and his assistant Ntsako and then proceeded to our destination. What beautiful dense vegetation along the way, but what a sandy road! After two hours of driving, we emerged into the settlement of widely scattered homes and as usual received a joyous “Hoyo, hoyo.”

Now let me describe the background of the work at Mudjinge. Mama Samaria, her husband and 6 children, lived just across the “road” from us at Chinhacanine. She was one of the first students to complete our course on the Old Testament, following which she immediately started a class of her own in her local congregation under our guidance.

However, four years previously, a man called Pedro, who had some understanding of the Word of God, came to Chinhacanine from Mudjinge and mama Samaria overheard him challenging a local resident on the folly of ancestral worship. She encouraged him to serve God, but he replied that he and his people had no knowledge of God’s Word. Now, having completed her Bible study course and having gained some experience on teaching a class, mama Samaria recalled the incident and felt God calling her to go to that remote village and impart to them what she had received, but she knew that to do this successfully, she would have to train them over a lengthy period of time.

With money she had set aside to complete her own house at Chinhacanine, she bought used corrugated iron sheeting and conveyed it to Mudjinge with hired transport. Pedro was delighted to see her, gathered a number of the local people and while mama Samaria cooked food for them, they built her a room on a stand they had allotted to her. From then on, she started going there to instruct the people of Mudjinge in God’s Word and ways.

When we heard this, we decided to accept that class as one of our outposts and support mama Samaria as far as travelling and other expenses were concerned. We also arranged with Baloi, the district superintendent of Mabalane, to go there once every three months, to render whatever other assistance was needed.

To present that class called for willingness to sacrifice one’s comfort. She often had to sit for hours on end in the back of a jolting lorry amongst goats and all sorts of building materials for 6 to 8 hours to reach her destination. Her cheerfulness, faith and sacrificial spirit, was such an inspiration to us. This was what we wanted to see: local Christians, having been trained by us, acting independently, hearing the call of God and using their own resources to move out into the bush, making disciples of their own people. Bless the Lord for His love and power.

All over, groups of students were now completing their courses on the Old Testament, like at Mafada B, Tomanini and Seven de Abril. Paul said that his labour was not in vain and we could echo his words. Pockets of trained and spiritually equipped Christians were being planted all over the Gaza province. The Lord Jesus was seeing the fruit of the travail of His soul. (Isaiah 53:11).

During October we experienced more joy as we attended the “graduation ceremonies” of another two groups of students, the one at Tomanini and the other at 7de Abril. Both groups had been trained by Titus. Though somewhat physically disabled and walking with a crutch, he travelled many, many kilometres weekly by bicycle over those sandy roads and tracks between the three outposts where he was running his classes. Now he was also “returning with joy; carrying his sheaves.” (Ps 126:6)

By that time we had become very efficient in handling all sorts of electronic challenges out there in the bush. On going to a “graduation” function, we would pack a camera, UPS, laptop and printer, plus all the connecting cables into the car. Once there, we would take photos of the students, transfer them to the laptop, compile and print the certificates, inserting them into transparent pouches and, within one and a half hours of our arrival, would be ready to present them at the meeting. In so doing we saved ourselves at least one return journey. We were in the bush but not of the bush. Praise the Lord that “trains our arms for battle.”

By October (2009) Carlos was now really getting into the swing of presenting the discipleship training to our six trainees. They were enjoying his teaching and assured me that they were learning a lot. Instead of just sticking to the written lectures, Carlos studied extensively and presented the students with a wealth of edifying, useful material. He just about covered every chapter of the historical books and even dealt with Books such as Ruth that are so very, very special but which were not covered by our basic teaching. (It should be remembered that our lectures were written for people who knew just about nothing of God’s Word. The six trainees however, had already had three years of Bible School training and appreciated more advanced teaching.) By the end of their training, the more industrious of them would have read right through the Bible, and have studied considerable portions of it in depth. Bless the Lord oh my soul!

At that time one of our part-time teachers, Alson, initiated a class at Mafada A, travelling 80 km (return journey) of sandy road once a month to present it. This was his second class for he was already running one at Chinhacanine. We now had seven part-time workers that had emerged from the ranks of our students and were leading class groups.

Mamma Samaria whom we mentioned earlier on, was doing very well at Mudjinge – at her latest visit there, 38 students had turned up.

During November we travelled northwards to reconnoitre that part of the Gaza province with the purpose of expanding our ministry into that area. We travelled through Mabalane to Mapai, then in an easterly direction up to Machaile; from there back to Mapai and then further north up to Chicualacuala, right on the Zimbabwe border (some 314km from Chinhacanine). Some roads were not bad at all but others tested our vehicles to the limit, the more so because I was towing the caravan.

We spent many hours conversing with local church leaders to test the spiritual climate of the larger centres which we thought might be suitable as district headquarters. Wherever we went, we encountered the tremendous need for the training of leaders. At Chicualacuala a certain pastor’s wife said to us: “My husband has been leading this congregation for 14 years but he is not very good, for he has had no training.” (Shame, I hope my wife speaks better of me!)

The president of the fraternity at Chicualacuala, consisting of thirteen churches, set aside all other obligations to come and see us and told us that they had been contemplating sending some of their promising church members to Maputo to receive some religious instruction, but that they lacked the funds to do so and that they would be so grateful to receive our assistance. However, he also cautioned us that two Christian organizations had tried to do so before, but that both of them had given up after a couple of months because of the distance they had to travel and because of the cost involved. What a challenge for us. Were we any better?

Well, we had to decide, and came to the conclusion that the Lord wanted us to place one of our trainee couples at Mapai and another at Chicualacuala (some 314km from Chinhacanine) as soon as they were ready to take up the responsibility. Transport to Chicualacuala was very limited and there was no cell phone network coverage. The third couple would be stationed at Ndindiza which was about 130km to the east of Chinhacanine (our base).This then was the challenge for the following year.








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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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OUR STORY – Chapter E10




Since the establishing of Rivoni Ministries, we had focussed on the spiritual side of the work. All we did on the physical side, was to assemble the audio equipment required by the Rivonis, construct the donkey cart for Titus and go to some trouble to get the ship’s freight container. This approach I believe was correct, for Solomon advised to prepare one’s land and get one’s crops going, before building one’s house. (Prov 24:27)

Since our discipleship classes were now running smoothly, the right time had come for the erection of some structures to accommodate our equipment and supplies and to provide shelter for us as workers. During May, I arranged with a firm at Phalaborwa to supply and erect a corrugated iron storeroom of 6 x 3m, and a carport of 6 x 6m for us at Chinhacanine. The contractor erected the storeroom, relocated the freight container to where we wanted it, built a door and two windows into it, fenced the site and then left without completing the carport, since he found it too exacting to work within Mozambique.

At last: electricity connected to our facilities.

We also needed mainline electricity and after many days of bickering with the authorities, they one day turned up with a wooden pole dragged behind a pickup for 60 km, planted it on our site right next to the container and linked us up with the mainline electricity grid. They also linked up all our neighbours’ homes from the same pole. From then on our whole neighbourhood was lit up at night; we had thus earned the name of Rivoni Ministries (Rivoni is the Shangaan word for light).

Martie’s kitchen.

With all these things in place, we transferred Martie’s kitchen from the container to the corrugated iron storeroom. Though it was very hot inside, especially when the gas burners were going, it was a vast improvement for she now had a number of shelves to stack her monthly grocery supplies for us and for the team.

A better office was our next priority and this we set up in one end of the container where the kitchen had been. Inside of that steel box, exposed to the Mozambican sun, it was unbearably hot, but I at least had an office where I could set up a computer and printer to continue to compile the 31 lectures on the old Testament urgently required for our discipleship course. At times it got so hot that I had to train two fans on the laptop computer to keep it from overheating. As for myself…, I just had to cope.

At the other end of the container, Martie and I set up our bedroom, sleeping on camping type folding mattresses. We considered it a privilege to have a bedroom supplied with electricity for both of us are avid readers and reading by candlelight after a hard day’s work, was a bit strenuous.

At the far end, the carport covered with shade netting all round. It served as kitchen, dining room and lecture hall.

The carport still needed to be erected and after two or three weeks, plucking up some courage, I set about constructing it myself, cutting and welding the components left behind by the constructor to make them fit. We covered the sides with shade netting all around and spread two caravan groundsheets on the sandy soil. This enclosure we equipped with folding chairs and table and a 500 litre water tank fitted with a tap we raised about 50 cm above ground level by means of cement blocks.

Water had to be carted from a community well by wheelbarrow.

At that stage all water had to be carted some 400m by wheelbarrow in 20 litre containers filled up from a community well equipped with a hand pump. The containers were emptied into the tank. This setup was a great help to Martie, for now she could just open a tap whenever she needed water.

The team at table in our carport diningroom.

We then moved Martie’s kitchen and shelves into this more airy structure. In due course we added a dining room table and chairs where we could sit down for our meals and team meetings. This physical development of the site boosted everybody’s morale and even passers-by could see that Rivoni Ministries had arrived and was taking root. To Martie and me, these were huge leaps ahead, for we no longer lived in the back of our light delivery van or in a shaky tent under a tree, but in fairly secure surroundings. Having completed these practical tasks, we returned to Phalaborwa on 13 July (2007) where more challenges awaited us.

Since we were by now spending most of our time in Mozambique, we had no real use of our “luxury” three-bedroom flat and scouted around for a smaller place where we could stay over when visiting Phalaborwa to buy supplies. We also had no further use of the audio studio for we had so much to do in Mozambique that we had to return the compiling of the Shangaan radio programs to the Dorothea Mission.

Moving to smaller accommodation had many implications. Many of our possessions had to be disposed of: some auctioned, others sold privately, some given away and one trailer load just dumped at the refuse site where people enjoyed a windfall, grabbing items they considered of value for personal use or resale.

The greatest challenge we faced was to dispose of our pets, especially the dogs, for we had to find someone to look after them for weeks on end while we were in Mozambique. For the budgies and cockatiels kept in a cage in the garden, we found a very good home. We had two dogs. The older one, which was mine, we had to take to the vet to be put down for she was too feeble to be handed over to another master. She died in my arms as he injected her. This touched me deeply for I vividly recalled the day I bought her from the pet shop and the almost human sounds of delight she had made to be in my arms, to be out of that small cage where she had been kept. She was a long-legged energetic Fox Terrier and, when younger, had delighted to accompany me on our smallholding or out into veldt, rushing around, hunting for mice, rabbits and snakes. She had indeed caught a couple of snakes and once got bitten by a puff adder, but recovered without any after effects. To take the decision and then actually hand her over to be put down, was a heart-rending experience.

My pain, however, could in no way be compared to Martie’s trauma. To her, her dog was like a child and she was bound to him with her whole being. To give him away to someone, was like selling a child and posed an insurmountable obstacle. For several reasons there was no possibility of taking him along with us to Mozambique; all we could do was to find him a new home. How my heart ached for my dear wife for I knew the magnitude of this sacrifice she had to make for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ and his Kingdom. I used many Biblical examples, especially that of Abraham having had to sacrifice his one and only child, Isaac, on the altar at the bidding of his God. But all my pleading and arguments just could not get her to accept the inevitable.

By then I realised that I was up against a solid rock. On the one hand I had to answer the call of the Lord Jesus Who had sacrificed Himself and the Father who had sacrificed His Son on a wooden cross for me; on the other hand, there was my dear wife to whom I had been married for 39 years, with whom I had two wonderful sons and four grandchildren. Was this going to cost me my marriage? Who meant more to me: my loving Lord whom I could not see, or my dear wife who was before me, in front of my eyes every hour of the day, my dear soul mate that had already sacrificed so much to follow me as I followed Him wherever He led?

As the days went by, I came to feel completely hemmed in by massive sky high walls, allowing me no way of escape. In total despair and anguish I cried out to God to help me, yet unable to suggest in what way He was to do it. The solution came from Him. The all wise lover of our souls broke through Martie’s painful resistance and helped her to gain the victory over her emotions and to agree to find a good home for her dear friend and “child.”

Let her describe it in her own words. “Since childhood, I had been very fond of animals, especially of dogs. I can still recall every one of them, as well as their names. And so it was with our two dogs (actually one, because the other one belonged to Ben), but I did not make any distinction between them. I really loved them both. Ben’s dog, Maggie, a Fox Terrier, was already about 15 years of age. Mine, called Jakkals, was a cross between a Fox terrier and a Jack Russelll. While we were living at Phalaborwa, Ben had to go into Mozambique quite often. Sometimes I went with him and had to ask somebody to look after our dogs. As the work increased, Ben mentioned that the time might come that we would have to move to Mozambique to live there permanently. Immediately I felt dispirited, because my first thought was: ‘Our dogs: what will happen to them?’ In the end it became clear to me that there was only one solution and that was to find other homes for both of them. Needless to say, this was the greatest shock I had had in a very long time. I refused to consider it. I could not even visualise myself doing that. I was very upset in my heart, even towards Ben. How could he ever expect me to do such a thing: to do away with our two dogs I loved so dearly?

With Maggie it was a bit easier. She was already old and her health was failing. She had a heart problem and also occasionally got epileptic seizures. But otherwise she was still up and about and responding well to treatment, but because of our situation in regard to Mozambique, we decided that the best we could do was to have her put down by a vet. We then took her to his surgery. Ben was holding her in his arms while the vet prepared the injection. By that time, I think my sobs could be heard outside in the street. Even the vet could not hold back his tears anymore. Many times after that, I still remember the look in Maggie’s eyes, looking at me, as if she was asking: “What are you busy doing to me?” We left her body there, with broken hearts. A few days later, I got a little postcard from the vet, as if from Maggie herself, saying: ‘I know the time will come that you will see the kindness that you did for me. Although my tail, its last has waved, from pain and suffering I’ve been saved’.

Martie with her dog Jakkals.

That same afternoon we took Jakkals to his new home. Can I ever describe what was going on in my heart at the moment when we left him there! On returning home, I felt the loneliness even stronger. It felt as if two members of our close little family had been taken away from us. Afterwards, Ben often took me back to that home and we took Jakkals for a walk but every time, on having to leave him there, I was going through that tremendous battle all over again, so we decided not to go there anymore.

As time went by, I realised that only the Lord could take away my heartache and He alone would give me the victory so that I could go on and do what He had called us to do. Some time afterwards we moved to Mozambique but I could not get over this tremendous sacrifice I had to bring. At times I would not even allow Ben to speak to me. I sometimes asked him just to leave me alone. Gradually I again began to take notice of the animals around me, and I finally found joy in spoiling them by giving them the love and care they never got from their own owners.

I can only give glory to His Name, who carried me through that tremendous test. He gave me victory and I knew that I did right by being obedient to Him for He would never leave us nor forsake us. Praise His wonderful Name!

Martie with her two Bassets which Ben gave her many years later after they had settled at Philippolis.

Sometime after we finally came out of Mozambique, Ben bought me two lovely Basset-hounds. I believe that they are a special gift from God to me, saying: ‘I will never forget the sacrifice you brought a few years ago, and I still love you so much!’

Martie pouring out her love on two little goat kids in Moz. after her sorrowful parting with her dog.

Answering the call of our Lord has unforeseen consequences. For Mary, the mother of Jesus, it was a tremendous honour and joy to bear within her and give a Saviour to the world, but there came a day when a sharp sword as it were, was thrust right through her heart when she saw Him hanging on a cross and could not lift a finger to make it easier for Him. To follow the Lord wholeheartedly, does not only bring joy, but also deep, deep sorrow, yet I know that my beloved wife was favoured to make a sacrifice to her Lord and to the people to whom we were called to minister and will one day be rewarded with a special crown. On that day the Lord will also reveal to her how He had cared for and comforted her dear “dog child” she had sacrificed to Him.

The Lord then led us to a garden flat that cost us only R2000 per month. When we saw the little place, both Martie and I were delighted beyond measure, for it immediately appealed to us. And now the bonus: the owner and his wife were both Christians of our age and told us how they had prayed to the Lord to provide the right tenants. They were in fact members of the congregation to whom I had preached the previous Sunday evening.

Moving all our belongings is a story on its own. We only had a box type trailer as means of transport and I hired two men off the street who did not know the difference between the top and bottom of a fridge, yet we managed to get safely into our “granny flat.” However, our bodies took a beating. One or two of my fingers seemed all askew and Martie’s back was so painful that she had to see a physiotherapist who worked for about an hour to relieve the muscle spasms.

That Sunday I had a wonderful opportunity to share with another congregation regarding our work in Mozambique. Afterwards we were invited to a braai and had Blue Bull steaks the size of a full moon (perhaps a little smaller?)

During the following week we worked through an endless list of supplies to be purchased for Mozambique, including two bicycles. On Thursday and Friday I put aside some time for a bout of flu which had been knocking persistently on my door for several days and on Saturday we left for Mozambique with Martie quite miserable with flu and a very painful back. Every time we went through a really bad bump on the Limpopo Park road, she uttered a cry that made me jump behind the steering wheel, but we made it to Chinhacanine, having shed some more weight in bullion at the customs office.

The flu had incapacitated Martie, but I felt somewhat better and rigged up our TV dish, connected it to the God TV decoder and presto, at the very first try, there we had a crystal clear picture of our dear friends like Joyce Meyer, John Hagee and others visiting us and ministering to our thirsty souls right out there in the bush. What a feast. The next day our team members arrived and from then onwards we all crowded round the TV every evening and drank from the fountain which God had opened for us in the wilderness.

Assisted by the team, we completed what practical work still had to be done to the structures. In between we had team meetings, praising the Lord and savouring Bible studies from the Book of Ruth. What a gem that little four chapter Book is, the Book of decisions: some people, making the wrong decisions, are left behind in lonely graves in a foreign country while others, taking the right decisions, proceed into the waterfall of God’s continuous, abounding blessing.

We also met with our co-workers individually and heard what God was doing through them. Hallelujah! All over there was a stirring amongst the dry bones. Eternal Life had come to so many people. The spiritual leaders whom we were training, were taking the material they received during the week back to their congregations over weekends and to all sorts of conferences and sharing it with so many, many people that we ourselves were unable to reach. Not only were we providing the Bread of Life, but also the spices that lured people to come and eat at God’s table.

During September 2007 we travelled to attend a relative’s wedding at Stellenbosch on the 20th, then returned to Phalaborwa via Pretoria where I ministered in our church on two occasions.

The “A Team ” from our church that camme to assist with practical work. Up front, to the left, is our eldest son, Frans.

On 8 October, we were back in Mozambique accompanied by Frans, our eldest son who was to visit us for approximately six weeks, and on the 14th a team of six burly men from our HCCN congregation in Pretoria, arrived in two vehicles loaded with gifts, tools, equipment and materials of all kinds. In a jiffy all their tents were pitched and during the next five days they turned the place upside down, constructing, painting, repairing, doing the electrical wiring, rebuilding the fence, repairing the roof of Pita’s home (the one that had been blown off), etc. The sun scorched them but they stood their ground and a lot of work got done in a very short time. These men had to sacrifice accrued leave and business income and dig deep into their pockets to be able to assist us and we were deeply grateful to them.

During their stay, we all visited a place called Majimisi one evening. This was a small community where quite a number of people had found the Lord through our discipleship classes. Having ministered the Word to them, we all sat down to a meal they had prepared for us. Our hosts sat on cansis (reed mats) at a respectful distance to keep us company and watch us eating the meat of a goat they had specially slaughtered for us.

The intestines and head are considered to be special delicacies. The contents of the intestines were of course not properly cleaned out; some of it was left to add flavour. Two of our team members were specially favoured with an eye for each, carefully picked from the head of the goat with the sharp end of a knife and placed on their plates. Our team did their best to show their appreciation while cutting, chewing with closed eyes, then swallowing one bite after another with a mouthful of mixed cool drink. We afterwards discovered that a number of households had each contributed one or two litres of their precious water to host us.

A group of students receiving certificates for passing their first year course.

Some three days after that brave squad left for Pretoria, our own team of workers arrived and we really had a wonderful time of fellowship and of losing ourselves in God’s Word. I spent many, many hours with each one of them, learning about their ministries, sorrows and joys. They were really pouring their hearts into the work.

The donkey cart, which I sometimes feared would just stand and rot under a tree, had become a Gospel chariot “clop, clop, clopping” around in the bush from village to village, carrying the Message of Hope to those people that had had so very little opportunity of hearing of the Saviour that loved even them.

With only 16 hours left to the midnight of December 31 of the year 2007, I sat in Phalaborwa compiling the last newsletter, rejoicing in what God had accomplished through the Mission since we first responded to His call.



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OUR STORY – Chapter E9




During the next month, that is during February 2007, we visited our team at Chinhacanine once more. This turned out to be a very significant meeting, a watershed event on the timeline of Rivoni Ministries’ existence. In the course of our discussions and times of prayer, the Lord opened our understanding of His mind as to how we were to go about being more effective in the building of His Kingdom.

Up till then, we had been using part time “lay workers” equipped with audiovisual aids to spread the Gospel but the Lord had also graciously added three co-workers to our ranks who had already had three years of Bible school training with other institutions. One of them, Carlos Mauelele, called our attention to the multitude of small churches consisting of anything from 10 to 50 members, that already existed throughout the Shangaan population. He suggested that we train their leaders to shepherd their congregations effectively. The kind of leaders he had in mind, were deacons, elders, youth leaders, leaders of women’s groups and even pastors. In this way we would be rendering a great service to the universal Christian church in Mozambique which consisted of between 10 and 20 different denominations, all lacking in skilled leadership.

Initially I was hesitant to venture into this higher level of ministry for I had my doubts as to whether we had the knowledge and spiritual power to fulfil this task effectively. I certainly did not see myself on the spiritual level required to train pastors, and doubted whether the other members of the team had that ability. Surprisingly they had more confidence in themselves and in me and heartily supported this idea. At that stage I did not know how little training these church leaders really had and how ill-equipped they were to perform their duties. The Team explained to me that in fact, the only Bible training available to such leaders, was short Bible courses provided by Christians from South Africa visiting Mozambique during their spare time. One or two of the more developed local denominations also provided some teaching.

The main problem with the existing training offered, was that the trainees had to travel long distances to places like Chokwe and Maputo. Most of them did not have the funds to do so. They could also only attend for a few days at a time, then had to return home to attend to their families and crops. This resulted in most of them being appointed solely because of their loyalty to their small spiritual groups, but they had very little knowledge of Scripture and preached the same messages over and over. The usual topics of these messages were sin and judgement and very little was said about the grace of God in Christ and the power of his Spirit to set a person free from the law of sin, judgement and death. Understandably this resulted in lifeless meetings which had very little impact on the community.

Once I understood the situation and saw the need, Carlos’s suggestion began to make sense and as I brought all this to the Lord in prayer, I sensed that He said the following to me:

  1. We were to make disciples of the Shangaan nation of Mozambique in accordance with the Great Commission (Matt 28:19)

  2. To turn a person into a disciple of Christ we had to:

  1. Teach him the Word of God.

  2. Train him to Walk with God by modelling Christ to him and counselling and correcting him along the way (building a love and trust relationship with God).

  3. Train him to Work for God.

  1. That we were to invite into our discipleship classes, not only church leaders, but whosoever wanted to come – that would of course include our present Rivoni lay workers.

  2. That I was to personally train our four full-time co-workers, then send them out to train the rest.

A tremendous advantage of this approach was that we would be taking the Bible school to the people right where they lived, instead of calling them to come and be trained at our headquarters. The type of training we would provide, would allow even the mothers that had to attend to their children and those that had to cultivate their lands to provide food for their tables, to attend classes, be trained and become full-grown Christians.

When I presented these principles to the Team, it met with general approval. Decisions were also taken (and later amended) as to how the courses were to be presented. The final decision was that sizeable rural townships were to be targeted where discipleship courses were to be run over a period of three years, covering the Old Testament during the first year, the four Gospels and the book of Acts during the second and the rest of the New Testament in the third year. Presentation had to be in the form of workshops, allowing the students to participate and gain some practical experience. During sessions, one or two of them were to be afforded the opportunity of doing a short presentation each. They would also be trained to pray, worship, dramatize the Scripture, understand the Word and apply its teachings to their lives. They would be accompanied to clinics, hospitals, schools, water pumps and similar places and taught to preach, hold open air meetings, counsel people and do house visitation.

Exams would take place and certificates issued to the successful students. In order to pass, a student had to have a clear testimony of salvation, a clean walk with God and gained 60% in regard to Bible knowledge. (It will be recalled that such an exam had already been taken down at Matitse and certificates issued to those students, so a basis had already been laid.) I was to do research to find suitable lecturing material or write this myself.

In this way we hoped to develop, in each church, a group of leaders and in each village a group of Christians that would be well equipped to disciple their township. Once that had been achieved in a specific village, we would select a new one and repeat the process. We were, as it were, to establish discipleship workshops within villages. This, to my mind, was an effective way of operating. We were convinced that many unbelievers would be led to the Lord in the course of the training period. We were also of the opinion that many of these trained disciples would offer themselves as Rivonis (Light Bearers), relocate to the more remote areas and spread the Gospel there as they had been trained to do.

To train our four leaders, Martie and I would, during our monthly visits to Mozambique, meet with them, hand out the printed lectures and present the first-year course to them for a number of consecutive days. They would then return to their districts and present the same material to their students. In the beginning they would continue to make use of the messages preached by pastor Bila on the corresponding Scripture and recorded on CDs. This could later on be done away with as our leaders became more proficient in presenting the lecture material themselves.

As said earlier on, these were very important decisions for they formed the Magna Carta, the Sermon on the Mount, the basis for the Mission to operate in future.

Carlos Maulele meeting with students at Chinhacanine. Many discipleship meetings were held in the shade of huge trees providing protection against the scorching sun and heat.

Carlos Mauelele got the ball rolling by targeting the township of Chinhacanine and stirred up the interest of the leaders from nine different small churches. He arranged to have a meeting with them once a week where they would be studying the Word systematically, starting from Genesis and progressing to Malachi. Within a relatively short time, Titus and Baloi also managed to get such groups going within their areas.

Pita Mutuassa was relocated to a township called Manjangue, some 10 km from Chinhacanine. Her job description was to: “Get everybody to become disciples of Christ within the space of twelve months!”

The site we acquired at Chinhacanine was just a bare piece of land on which we had to provide all the facilities.

The site we acquired at Chihacanine was now to become the Mission’s headquarters and some sort of accommodation had to be provided.

A used six meter shipfreight container was bought at Maputo harbour and transported some 245km, then offloaded and moved into position.

Carlos and I went down to Maputo to obtain a six metre ship freight container, had it cleared by Customs, removed from the shipyard, transported to Chinhacanine and offloaded on our site. This cost us almost twice what we had initially calculated, but at least we now had a secure place to store our equipment and building material and we summarily moved our impedimenta from Chokwe into it.

Martie and I would also stay over in it during our visits to Mozambique and, as a team, we would gather in it for meetings. Praise the Lord. We now felt that we had a foothold in Mozambique, some sort of contact with its soil. (Josh 1:3). 

The container had neither windows nor doors. Initially we set up a kitchen near the open end while we slep on the floor at the rear.

Once a corrugated iron shed had been erected to accommodate the kitchen, an office was established in the one end of the container. It was so hot in there that two fans had to be trained on the computer to cool it down.

We returned to Phalaborwa, then in the late afternoon of Thursday the 22nd left for Pretoria, spending the first night in a caravan park in Magoebaskloof. After our evening meal, the Spirit of the Lord met with me as He did with Jacob at Bethel. His presence just overwhelmed me as I knelt before Him and He gave me directions for the weekend. No wonder that we had such a fruitful time in each of the four homes of Mission supporters we visited, as well as at the missionary conference of our congregation, the Hatfield Christian Church North, where we presented an exhibition and power point slide show of our work. I also had an opportunity to share verbally the burden of my heart for the Mozambican people with the congregation.

On Monday morning, the day we would return home, I asked the Lord during my quiet time whether there was anything left on His agenda for me to do. The answer came so quickly and clearly that my early morning lingering drowsiness just evaporated. The Lord said: “Go to such and such a garage and buy a Pajero. Before you go there, phone your friend Wayne.” Wow. We had been contemplating buying a Pajero because our Nissan had been limping back home from Mozambique for the past year, but we were hesitant to spend that much money.

I dialled Wayne and without me telling him what God had said to me, he said: “I saw two Pajeros at such and such a garage,” the same one I had it in mind to go to. Humph! Martie and I went there. One of the Pajeros on the floor had already been sold and the other one was not what we wanted. Uncertainty. What now? I said to Martie: “We will really be draining our funds, so I will not scout around; the matter must be clearly from God. Let Him take the initiative.” I felt the Lord saying: “Go down the road and buy the songbooks you have on your list”. I slipped the pickup into gear and set out for the bookshop. We had hardly travelled 200 meters down the road, when we saw our dream Pajero for sale at a garage on our left. God had directed us first to the garage we knew and from there to the one we did not know. The vehicle was in a beautiful condition, well maintained and reasonably priced.

Inside the canopy of our Nissan pickup it was very cramped. On one side I built shelves in which all our kitchenware, clothes and food were stored. On the other side was a narrow bunk on which Martie slept while I slept on the floor in between.

I still hesitated. Would God give us a substantial donation to boost our funds and faith? We contacted heaven and stated our case. The next morning, before 9 am, we had it: an unexpected, breathtaking donation of R50, 000. That afternoon we drove home in the Pajero, chins up, but the funds we added from our own pocket troubled me somewhat, so I prayed: “Lord to whom does the vehicle belong: the donation covered 45% and we paid 55% of the cost from our own pocket? Is it the Mission’s vehicle or ours?” “The vehicle is yours and the cost of it, is altogether for your own account. The donation is for the Mission’s account,” the Lord replied. I felt that this wasn’t quite fair, but God is God, isn’t He? Anyway we now had a beautiful, dependable, luxurious four-wheel drive with a soft suspension to absorb some of the punishment inflicted by the Mozambican roads on our bodies, as well as R50,000 to develop the site at Chinhacanine. And perhaps it was not unfair after all because, in the end, everything on earth belongs to Him who purchased us and all we “possess”.

The Pajero, together with a jurgens caravan with lifted suspension given to us by Board members of the Mission, was real luxury compared to what we had before.

A week later, on Wednesday the 4 March, Martie and I were back in Mozambique. Every visit had its unique challenges and so did this one.

Mozambique often suffers severely from natural disasters. Shortly before our arrival, a flood, caused by heavy rainfall in Zimbabwe, swept down the Zambezi River causing 120,000 people living in the lowlands of the Zambezia province of Mozambique to flee their homes. Following that, cyclone Favio sweeping up the Mozambique Channel, that is, up the eastern coast of Mozambique between Madagascar and the mainland, wreaked havoc in the province of Vilanculos and further northwards towards Beira. By God’s grace, the Gaza province, where we were working, had not been that much affected, or so we thought.

Mozambicans fleeing from the lowlands and crowding onto the bridge over the Limpopo with some of their possessions.

However, the deeper we drove into Mozambique, the more we saw of the havoc that had been wreaked by the storm: many roofs of buildings like schools, churches, clinics etc. had been blown off. At our site at Chinhacanine, a number of huge Bluegum trees on the border of our premises had been snapped like match sticks, but the freight container was unscathed.

The storm also dealt one of our workers, sister Pita, a severe blow. While we were away, she had sent us an SMS informing us of this disaster that befell her, but it was only now that she told us the full story: “Just when we thought that cyclone Favio had spent itself along the coast, an evil wing of it swept over Manjange where I live in my two roomed little home. Round about midnight, I woke up to a deep and intense rumbling sound which sounded like a strong wind. I jumped from my bed and stood upright in one corner of the room. The next moment the roof above me was torn off and blown away. Rain poured down upon me as I stood trembling in utter darkness. With an open heaven above, I prayed more fervently and after about an hour, the hurricane subsided. I then left my wrecked home and found shelter with neighbours. The next morning I was able to recover five of the six corrugated iron sheets that had blown off. By God’s grace I was not injured.”

Having seen the results of the hurricane, we were very grateful for the safety of the freight container. It was, however very cramped with so many things stacked within, so we pitched our gazebo and sleeping tent next to it. This was a risk for the atmospheric turbulence was still high and, while we were all sitting comfortably under the gazebo, we received a phone call from Maputo warning us that a storm was heading our way. The call came too late for the next moment it was upon us. One of our plastic chairs came charging at me like tumbleweed, smashing an expensive rechargeable lamp in the process. We managed to salvage our sleeping tent, bundled it up and thrust it into the container but one of the legs of the gazebo was snapped before we could lower it.

When order had been restored, dusk had fallen, but the generator refused to start and the auxiliary car battery was flat for not having been recharged because the solar panel could not function in an overcast sky which had lasted for some days. All of a sudden we were back to basics, which meant a candle placed in a tin filled with sand to keep it upright.

As a team we were exhausted at that time and hoping to have a time of rest and spiritual refreshment over that Easter weekend. A certain Church group from Pietermaritzburg was planning to send a team to minister to the community and we were looking forward to attending the meetings. However, things did not work out as planned. The mother of the pastor who had invited them, suddenly passed away. In Mozambique a funeral lasts at least three to four days and takes pre-eminence over all other events, so the scheduled Easter services had to be cancelled. The spinoff was that instead of sitting down and being ministered to, I found myself called upon to preach on two occasions (which actually was a wonderful opportunity for approximately 300 people attended the funeral).

Not only nature, but my stomach too, was again in turmoil and kept me awake and in pain most nights. Sharing a toilet with 300 other people under such circumstances …

Another factor that added to our discomfort was that when our freight container was offloaded I was not present and it was placed with its entrance about 10 metres from our neighbour’s pit toilet which resulted in strong unpleasant aromas filling the air, especially at the front end of the container where we set up our kitchen to prepare our food. At that stage the container had no other windows or doors other than the two main doors at that one end.

Because of the bad weather, Martie and I could not sleep in our tent and made our bed on the floor in the end furthest from the door opening. During the day it was very hot in there but I had no other place to lie down and was actually bedridden for days on end, being too sick and weak to walk around. When my time came to preach, I had to rely entirely on the Lord to lift me up, let me walk to the tent on the adjoining premises where the funeral took place, and speak His words through me. On both preaching occasions, an absolute miracle happened and I was able to speak forcefully, touching the hearts of the listeners and laying a spiritual foundation for our discipleship classes that were to be held at Chinhacanine. My greatest concern was that our team who had only recently joined the Mission, would lose heart because of my infirmity but the Lord overruled this as they witnessed his power flowing through me when preaching.

It was not only Pita and I that reeled under the attack of the evil one. Titus was also dealt a severe blow as we witnessed when visiting his home. Someone that bore him a grudge, had piled all his belongings onto his bed in his absence, drenched it with paraffin and set it alight. Although his neighbours managed to extinguish the blaze before the hut caught fire, he suffered extensive damage to his property and some of the Mission equipment was also damaged.

Dr Flip de Jager and his dear wife Hannelore visited us, preparing us food and encouraging us. They became lifelong supporters and Flip even came with two of his brothers in the Lord to assist in the building of a house for a staff member at Mapai.

The Lord then decided that enough was enough and stirred up the hearts of a couple at Phalaborwa to visit us and oh, what a blessing that was. They arrived on a Friday afternoon and treated us to roasted meat and other goodies. On Saturday, we showed them around and on Sunday they returned home. Their visit was such a refreshment and encouragement to us after a rather hectic ten days. God knows just when to send His angels to strengthen His saints.

Although we went through these trials, the good news was that we had a wonderful time of fellowship with our team and were much encouraged by what the Lord was doing through them in their respective areas. We also managed to attend two of the meetings they had with their students, one at Manjange and the other at Chinhacanine. They were really putting their hearts into the work to which the Lord called them and we knew that as time went by, much fruit would be harvested.

Tinah, a discipleship teacher trained by us, presenting a class to a group of students.

A discipleship class conducted in the open, with the students taking notes.

What also blessed my soul was that, notwithstanding my bodily weakness and all the other onslaughts, the Lord had enabled us to complete each and every little task we had set out to do. Therein is my joy, not that we had no opposition but that, by the power of God and with His mighty weapons, we overcame all opposition and cast down the strongholds which satan had been building up over so many centuries. We actually did more during that period than what we had planned beforehand.

On returning to Phalaborwa, we made plans to build an ablution block at Chinhacanine, a 6×6 meter carport with a corrugated iron roof and enclosed with shade netting, where we could gather for meals and have our meetings, and a corrugated iron shed to house the generator and store our tools and building materials. We would also have to fence the site. Things now really got moving!



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