Charles Woodrow presents the latest news from Nampula, Mozambique. You can read this newsletter online here.

Dear Friends:

The following is an update on what God has been doing here in the last three months.

Read the two-minute version in red below.

Fiel Conference

The 21st annual four-day Fiel conference in July ran well, and many long-time participants said it was the best conference so far. We had our largest attendance ever with 403 participants.

There were 403 participants representing 118 different church groups and all of Mozambique’s ten provinces

To accommodate so many people we had to erect a side extension to the tent

2022 Fiel Conference:  "best so far!"

The theme of the conference was pastoring in difficult times, and our main speakers were Conrad Mbewe from Zambia and Sillas Campos from Brazil. Wanger Campos led the special program for women.

On the left, Pr. Conrad Mbewe from Zambia preaching with Anselmo Vilanculo translating

On the left, Pr. Sillas Campos from Brazil with my colleague, Pr. Karl Peterson, former missionary to Mozambique, now serving a church in Colorado. Karl plans the spiritual program for these meetings.

Wanger Campos teaching the sessions for wives under the trees beside the Grace Mission residence

Theme:  pastoring in difficult times

I am sure it was the consistent daily preaching of our gifted and sought-after speakers that made the conference stand out in the minds of so many participants, but the highlight was a series of two addresses on Biblical preaching from one of our own Mozambican brothers. My associate, Karl Peterson, said they were possibly the most effective messages from all our 21 conferences to date. This was affirmed by another missionary from two provinces away whose leaders returned home saying that for them, the messages from this Mozambican were the high mark of the meetings. 

The most effective messages were from a Mozambican preacher: 

I mention this to illustrate what God is doing through the projects funded by your gifts and undergirded by your prayers to transform the lives and ministries of church leaders here. The Mozambican pastor is Ibrahimo Hâmido, one of the leaders in Mission Ekklesia, an indigenous ministry established ten years ago by Timóteo Bila (another speaker at the conference) to strengthen Mozambican churches in the gospel proclaimed by our Reformation Fathers.

Ibrahimo Hâmido, founding member of Mission Ekklesia

Ibrahimo Hâmido, a leader of Mission Ekklesia

Ibrahimo and Bila have often been featured in these reports. Ibrahimo is a pastor and former English instructor who embraced the doctrines of grace ten years ago through my post-conference seminar and the free literature program administered by Editora Fiel, where select church leaders receive one new book a month for 36 months.  Ibrahimo recently completed a two-year master’s program in pastoral studies from a Reformed Evangelical seminary in Brazil. His master’s thesis was on expository preaching, and his two messages on Biblical exposition were the fruit of this effort.

He learned the doctrines of grace at my seminar and now has his master's from a Brazilian seminary.

What made Ibrahimo’s messages so effective, according to the Mozambican colleagues of my missionary friend, was that Ibrahimo knew well what normally passes for preaching here, spoke frankly about the deficiencies, and clearly explained what in fact ought to be the goals and methods of those commissioned to feed God’s sheep.

Timóteo Bila, founder of Mission Ekklesia and a regular conference speaker

He candidly superimposed on local realities Biblical ideals for preaching.

We are thankful for what the Lord is doing to raise up men of this caliber from among our own people. Karl and I are thankful also for our supporters who paid the expenses for Ibrahimo, Bila, and Ernesto Valoi (professor of philosophy at the local university, also featured before in these reports) to obtain this training from one of the most respected seminaries in Brazil. We thank the seminary too, not only for their fine instruction, but for waiving all tuition fees so these brothers could have this opportunity! 

Thank you for supporting seminary training for him and his colleagues Bila and Valoi.

In the early years of the Fiel Conferences in Nampula, I remember how impressed I was with the preaching we heard from speakers like Conrad Mbewe and his colleagues in Zambia, men who had come to understand the gospel in a full-orbed way through Banner of Truth literature that they had stumbled across twenty years earlier. I wondered how long it would take to see God raising up men of that caliber here in Mozambique. I thought it would take thirty years and doubted that I would be here to see the day when it finally happened. But 15 years later, we have already arrived!

In one generation, God has raised up gifted Mozambican preachers of the gospel.

Anointed Teachers

Before reporting on my post-conference seminar, I want to mention another Mozambican preacher from our own church and the work being done in Nampula by Pastor’s Training International (PTI) from the U.K. 

Pastors' Training International...

PTI joined with us at our last conference to help train up Mozambican church leaders who have completed my seminar in systematic theology. This was PTI’s second year to participate, and they sent three pastors/seminary professors to teach 47 leaders who stayed on after the conference for further instruction (not counting another 46 leaders who took my two seminars). 

From left, Pastors Elias Lima, from Portugal, Leonardo Morais, from Brazil, and Andrew Love from the U.K.

The PTI seminar took place inside the conference tent.

Instructors and 47 students

...trained 47 leaders after the conference.

PTI is a Reformed Evangelical program established to train indigenous pastors in all areas of pastoral work through a series of annual 4-day intensive seminars. During their first two years working alongside my own seminar, they have been focusing on teaching Mozambican pastors how to properly interpret and teach the word of God.

Participants in this year’s PTI program included Sortino Caero on left, who discovered the true gospel in my 2015 seminar and has since established a Facebook channel for promoting that gospel that has over 20,000 followers; Pr. Ibrahimo Hâmido, one of the indigenous PTI instructors, who in 2013 took my seminar, embraced the doctrines of grace, soon became a founding member of Mission Ekklesia, is a regular preacher at nation-wide conferences and seminars, and last year received a Master’s degree in Pastoral Ministry from a Reformed Evangelical seminary in Brazil; and Pr. Manico, who until July led a charismatic health and prosperity church, came to the conference for the first time, took the PTI course and then my seminar, came to the doctrines of grace, and called his wife in tears saying they had been doing everything wrong in their church, vowing to bring his congregation with him to the Reformed faith.

PTI offers annual four-day seminars for indigenous pastors.

The Sunday after the conference, these pastors and seminary instructors joined our worship service where the sermon was preached by one of our own expositors, Jeremias Muquito, who also has been featured in these reports in the past. God gave Jeremias a particularly fine message on the work of grace in the life of Naaman. In 19 verses he highlighted six manifestations in the account that characterize how grace always functions in drawing a sinner to God and salvation. The message was rooted in the Old Testament but thoroughly Christocentric with good application to the life of contemporary Christians.

Our own Jeremias Muquito preached the Sunday PTI visited our church.

Afterward, these instructors said it was a textbook example of how they wanted their students to preach, and that they would have thought our preacher was a seminary graduate with at least a year’s experience in the pulpit. Jeremias does have a lot of experience preaching in our church, but his message was the spontaneous fruit of the Holy Spirit working in his own heart without the benefit of a seminary education or even a trained pastor to imitate. I share the story to emphasize again what the Lord is doing here despite our human limitations. We are thankful and sometimes amazed at how God is raising up all around us bright lights for the church in Mozambique!

Jeremias Muquito

Despite his lack of seminary training, they admired his textbook example of a sermon.

Coincidentally, Jeremias, who has just graduated from pharmaceutical college, informed the church that last week marked the fourteenth anniversary of his first visit to our congregation as an adolescent whose shadow had never before darkened the door of a church building. He had vivid recollections from that first Sunday of being told he was too old to participate in the children’s church service and of a hymn that kept echoing in his mind afterwards – “Behold the slave, ransomed not with gold or silver but with the precious blood of the Lamb.” That hymn, it seemed to Jeremias, exerted a mystical power over him, drawing him back to the services again and again until, without understanding what was happening to him, he found himself a completely changed youth. He was conscious of the remarkable transformation taking place in his heart, but he was mystified about the explanation until the miraculous nature of saving grace was described to him as he pored over our Scripture memory catechism.

Jeremias came to our church, and was transformed by the gospel, fourteen years ago.

Jeremias participated in that program to earn money. In those days, people could make a days’ wage for every 6 passages they memorized (usually consisting of one to three verses that succinctly answered the question). At the time, it was good money for Mozambicans, but not a great expense for a Westerner to bear. In three months, Jeremias devoured and memorized our entire 48-page scripture memory catechism consisting of 365 questions touching on every aspect of doctrine and Christian practice, answered by these short passages from Scripture. His accomplishment was a record that stood for many years, and a portent of the way God was going to use this young man to bless our congregation. More significantly, God opened Jeremias’ eyes to understand from Scripture the wonder of what God had been doing in his own life.

He memorized our entire Scripture catechism in three months.

Since then, many key people in our church have been drawn to our congregation and to salvation through Jeremias, and I look back on his conversion as the time when an exciting spiritual momentum finally began to manifest itself among us. 

Mealtime at the conference

Dining under the trees

Layout of the conference grounds – meal serving tent in the left foreground, dining pavilion behind the meal tent, lunch line curving around in the right foreground, meeting tent at the back

Four lines enabled the meal crew to serve 497 meals in less than 45 minutes to participants, staff, and workers at the conference

Part of the kitchen where the 27-member kitchen staff prepared 4,970 meals in four days and cleaned up afterwards

A grateful pastor whose life was changed in the 2017 post-conference seminar and who owns a cattle ranch began donating 440 lbs. of beef every year for the conference. This year we purchased an additional 260 lbs. for about the same price as chicken!

Our master chef, Elias Rafael, a local church member, works in the finest restaurants in Nampula, but takes a week off every year to ensure our church leaders have the best food in town during the conference.

God has used Jeremias to bring many others to faith.

God's Deliverances - Electricity

Returning to the Fiel Conference, people who received our weekly pleas for prayer will recall that in the days leading up to the conference, we were much afflicted by the lack of reliable electricity, the almost complete lack of city water for nearly a month, and the fact that our shipment of literature had been detained in Brazil by the customs authorities.

Before the conference, we prayed about electricity, water, and literature.

We give thanks that after six months without back-up power, needed so often here, our generator was finally repaired thanks to the wonderful assistance from the local MAF pilots/mechanics only a few days before the conference! When they started the job, we discovered almost too late that we had been given the wrong adaptors for fitting the new alternator to our engine. Thankfully, the right part was in stock and was flown from South Africa on the next flight. The repair was completed just in time!

Our generator was repaired in the nick of time!

In the end, there were no power cuts during the conference, so the generator was not needed, but I was glad for the peace of mind produced by having a working generator that could power the whole property and much more!

Generator awaiting installation of a new alternator

...though it ended up being unneeded during the conference.

Water Supply

We still experienced the dreaded water shortage. Though the city did all they could to open wide the water mains to our property, still they could not keep up with the demand. Thankfully, the dry spells lasted only a few hours each day and were mitigated by the fact that our workers had placed large storage drums all around the property filled with water. No one complained about the inconvenience, as using water from a barrel is normal for Mozambique and is how our own family lived for many years in former days.

We had water for the whole conference, though at times only from barrels.

The welcome outcome from all that pressure on us and the water company was that the city, knowing they could never supply sufficient water using the single main we have always been connected to, gave us an additional connection to a restricted line 220 meters away reserved for the beer factory on our side of town. It cost the Mission $4000 and was only completed after the conference was underway, but since then we have never gone more than 24 hours without city water. As soon as the water is flowing again, we are always able to fill all our reserve tanks, cisterns, and water tower, a total of 38,000 gallons, so we have not run out of water once since the installation except when major breakdowns affected the entire city!

We've since been connected to a reliable water line.

Thanks to this hookup to the dedicated water main supplying the beer factory, I like to think that as long as there is beer in Mozambique, we will have water. If true, we should be in good shape until the Lord returns!

Since it runs to the beer factory, we should have water as long as Mozambique has beer!

More importantly for us, resolving our water problem was essential before we could open the hospital, and God used our distress leading up to the conference to bring it about!

We provided lodging for 169 leaders from out of town

In addition to the tents, we set up 72 camp cots inside the hospital

Now we'll have water for the hospital to function.

Repairing the Hospital, Work on the Guest House

Before the conference we were racing to finish extensive repairs to the hospital and to make the guest cottage habitable. In the hospital we finished everything, including restoring all the plumbing, installing required air conditioning in the operating rooms, painting the entire building, and putting down new tile except for the women’s ward, which we completed after the seminars ended. The total cost of repairing all the damage done while the hospital was used for COVID was $22,000.

The hospital has been restored post-COVID, to the tune of $22K.

We also got the guest cottage to the point where we could use it for housing expatriates who came to assist with the conference, though we still have work to complete before it is ready for permanent habitation.

Our guest house was used during the conference, and we hope to complete it soon.

Christian Literature

The only disappointment relating to our urgent prayer requests was that our shipment of 93 boxes of 4,236 books was not released by Brazilian customs until long after the conference. We still had a good supply of literature to sell, but I am sure some participants did not purchase all the titles they wanted. A major consolation and a windfall to hundreds of participants was that we had also prepared 250 SD cards, each containing 28 GB of Portuguese language Reformed Evangelical literature that publishers generously allowed us to download and distribute without charge! This was a wealth of material none of our participants could have afforded in hard copy, yet they received it at no cost at all. And Ligonier Ministries contributed to select pastors over 100 free copies of the Reformation Study Bible edited by the late R.C. Sproul and distributed through Editora Fiel!

Current and former pastors participating in Editora Fiel’s free literature distribution program received a free copy of the Reformation Study Bible donated by Ligonier Ministries

Our book shipment didn't arrive before the conference, but we did distribute 28GB of literature on each of 250 SD cards and Editora Fiel supplied 100 Reformation study Bibles to select leaders - all for free!

The total expense for the conference was $50,000, or about $125 per participant, not counting expenses Editora Fiel paid to get their team to Nampula. Of this amount, $4000 (about $10 per person) was received from the leaders themselves in registration fees and $22,000 was supplied by generous gifts from Grace Missions’ supporters. Other donors covered the rest of the expenditures.

God supplied the $50K+ for the conference through various donors.

Post-Conference Seminars

After the conference I offered two back-to-back theology seminars for 46 students. Over 100 applied, so I took the best applicants based on a Bible knowledge exam, and those people did very well in the course. Fifteen students averaged 98% or better during the 15 tests, and at least one went home a radically changed man, vowing to transform his Pentecostal health and prosperity church to a Reformed congregation. During the conference he called his wife in tears telling her they had been doing everything wrong and vowing to set it right as soon as he returned. May God help him! After the conference, he stayed on for the PTI seminar and then my second systematic theology seminar – three weeks of instruction in all. He has since enlisted in several active on-line discussion groups for Reformed-minded Mozambicans, two of which were established by former students of mine, and he participates regularly in their interactions.

One of this year’s two postconference seminars in systematic theology

One of the 46 students in my theology seminars vowed to bring his Pentecostal congregation to the Reformed faith.

Quick Trip to the US Wedding of Benaiah and Katelyn

I could not send out a report of these events at the time, because immediately after the seminars, Julie and I flew to the States to attend the marriage of our third son, Benaiah, to Katelyn Tuininga in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Benaiah and Katelyn met while students at Covenant College. Katelyn’s parents were missionaries to Uganda, and she has eight siblings, three of whom are adopted Ugandans! The couple asked me to deliver the marriage homily on Psalms 127 and 128 without knowing those were the two psalms that were read at Julie’s and my wedding. Benaiah and Katelyn are living at Lookout Mountain, Tennessee where they attend Christ Reformed Baptist Church. Benaiah is working for Chick-Fil-A in their fast-track leadership program while Katelyn works at nearby Ruby Falls, one of several tourist sites in their scenic locale.

Katelyn and Benaiah Woodrow, wed 27 August 2022

Our son Benaiah married Katelyn Tuininga on August 27.

Before the wedding the whole family enjoyed a five-day reunion at an AirBnB just a few miles from the church. Katelyn’s family was also nearby, so we had many opportunities to know these fine people! Katelyn’s father and grandfather were both pastors, and we appreciate the Dutch tradition that lives on today in their homes of partaking from the word of God whenever they gather as a family to partake of the bread that sustains them physically.

During a family reunion we met Katelyn's Christian family as well.

HeartCry Missionary Society

While in the States I traveled to the Virginia headquarters of Paul Washer and the HeartCry Missionary Society. For several years I have been concerned about who will take responsibility for the ministry in Nampula when God has finished working through me and the men on the Grace Missions church and medical boards. All of us are retirement age or beyond, and I trust the work we are engaged in will outlive us. Like many, I appreciate the doctrine and philosophy of HeartCry, and we are grateful for the regular help and encouragement they extend to us. Pray that God will guide as we attempt to peer ten years into the future and perceive the Lord’s plan for on-going direction of the ministries here.

Pray for God's guidance in our future and relationship with HeartCry Missionary Society.

Another reason for the visit was to ask Paul to speak at our next conference on the theme of “The Christian Church: Persecuted and Victorious”. HeartCry already supports many fine, indigenous pastors in Africa, and for years Paul has wanted to come observe and promote what God is doing in Mozambique. His regional director traveled here to meet the Ekklesia men during one of our annual conferences, and we have enjoyed their enthusiastic support and encouragement ever since. However, because of all the ministries supported by HeartCry in southern Africa, a trip here would likely result in Paul’s being tugged in many directions with invitable strain to his health. Please pray with us that God would bless Paul with abundant health and all the strength needed for him to do the work he would want to accomplish if he made a trip to Africa and Mozambique, a decision which must be made soon.

Additional key participants in this year’s Fiel Conference were, left to right, Anselmo Vilanculo, translator; Wanger Campos, women’s speaker; Sillas Campos, main speaker; Aloizio Gomez, Editora Fiel staff member; Charles Woodrow, Conference Coordinator; Pr. Rubner Durais – Director, Editora Fiel Adopt a Pastor Ministry; Cullen Klassen, videographer from Canada for Ligonier Ministries; Pr. Tiago Oliveira, speaker from Portugal; Tiago Filho, International Director, Editora Fiel

Pray that Paul Washer will be able to preach at our next Fiel Conference.

Ekklesia's First Leaders' Conference

Julie and I had to hurry back to Nampula because in September Mission Ekklesia, the indigenous grace ministry with which we partner, was hosting their first annual church leaders’ conference on our property, and I was one of the speakers.  

In September I spoke at Ekklesia's leaders' conference.

The conference was devoted to uniquely African issues such as witchcraft and divination, initiation rites, traditional medicine, ancestor worship, occult powers, and spiritual warfare. The report of that unusual conference is too long to be included here and will be sent in a separate installment!

Stay tuned for news of its all-African content.

Hospital Plans

After the Ekklesia conference in September, I could finally turn my attention for the first time this year to starting our hospital ministry. That is the main work from now to the end of 2022, except for a couple of weeks in December when Ekklesia will be hosting its annual youth conference.

Now I'm working towards opening our hospital.

The Provincial Department of Health would be happy to transfer our church’s four doctors and dentist to our facility without terminating their contracts with the government, in exchange for the mission paying for the additional employees the Health Department would have to hire to take their places. This would have allowed us to open the hospital by now. However, the chief of human resources was unable to carry out the order without first getting clearance from the Health Ministry in the capital. For three weeks I have been unsuccessful in setting up appointments at the Ministry to discuss this as the high-ranking people have been out of the country.

We hope our church's doctors can transfer to our facility without losing their government contracts.

Please pray that our contacts in the Ministry will be able to organize these meetings.

Pray for meetings with the Health Ministry.

The second important prayer request is that God would supply us a doctor with specialty training in family practice, emergency medicine, or internal medicine to back up our Mozambican physicians who have only med school training. We would be happy to receive doctors for short-term visits. All our physicians speak English well so familiarity with Portuguese would not be necessary.

Pray for God to send us general physicians, who could come for short stints and speak only English.

We also need a Western-trained and credentialed surgeon. For the medical-evangelistic ministry to pay for itself, we must perform operations on wealthy people who normally travel to South Africa for surgical care. We can only attract those clients if we have a surgeon with equivalent training and experience.

Pray for God to send us a Western-credentialed surgeon.

Please pray that God would enable us to launch the medical-evangelistic work by providing the general surgeon and the general medical physician needed to help our Mozambican staff give the level of care that was provided in the early days of this ministry.

These needs are vital to our medical-evangelistic ministry.

Conclusion, Weekly Reports

Thank you for your prayers for us and your interest in this ministry! We thank God for the people He has raised up to help us both here in Nampula and from abroad!

Thank you for praying!

Recently I have been sending brief weekly reports for people who are interested. If that includes you, and if you have not already contacted us, please reply to this email stating that you want to be added to the weekly report list. 

By His grace,

Charles and Julie

Let us know if you want weekly updates.

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