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

Dear friends,
Read the two-minute version in red below.
We thank God for faithful supporters whose prayers are vital to this ministry. Please join us in praising God for six answers to prayer from our last update. These are found in the headings below. And please note one ongoing urgent prayer request and one other important cause for intercession!
God has answered many prayers; more prayers are still needed.
To help you go straight to the information you want, here are the main headings:

1.   Answered prayers: Long-awaited vehicles now in Nampula!
2.   Please pray! Land case under review – expect decision any
day       
3.   Answered prayers: Annual youth conference
4.   Answered prayers: Update on our COVID hospital
5.   Answered prayers: Opening the medical clinic
6.   Surgeon for Grace Surgical Center still needed. Please pray.
Outline of this newsletter
Answered prayers:
Long-awaited vehicles now in Nampula!
Since our last newsletter in September, we have successfully imported and registered our new 8-ton Tata truck and our 2019 Toyota pickup together with their loads of supplies. What a blessing it is to have these two vehicles here in Nampula! Julie and I constantly thank God for the generous supporters who made these blessings a reality for us and for this ministry!
Our new truck and pickup have arrived in Nampula with their loads!
Amazing to us was the fact that while we normally would have had to pay $25,515.00 in customs fees, we were charged less than $100 for each vehicle. This is because in Mozambique Grace Missions is registered as a local business which over the years has attracted more than one million dollars of foreign investment through construction of our hospital. This investment qualifies us for exemptions from taxes and fees everyone else pays.
We were spared paying $25K in customs fees...
Tata truck
Our new truck getting fitted with double-decker cargo cage, panel reinforcement, and heavy-duty tow hitch
The remarkable thing about our status as a business rather than a church or charity or philanthropic NGO – none of which receive these financial benefits – is that when I registered us as a business 23 years ago, no one yet knew of the great advantages this would one day entail. We registered that way only because it was the quickest means to obtain legal recognition for the mission. Haste was essential because a sudden crisis threatened to have me expelled from the country. Before that happened, I needed to protect the mission’s investments (house, vehicles, land, and medical supplies) from falling into the hands of the very person plotting my expulsion hoping to inherit the assets left behind because of his close relationship with us. My lawyer said the quickest way to block that from happening was to register Grace Missions as a business run by three trusted associates who would maintain ownership of our assets even if I were expelled.
...because we hurriedly registered the mission as a business 23 years ago.
The intrigue was engineered by a cunning Mozambican who was one of my most trusted associates in our work. I had known him for eight years and had contributed much money and time to his private Christian school. I learned after the trap was sprung that he had spent weeks advancing a claim through the department of justice that I stole thousands of dollars from the Mozambican church every year and imported containers of relief supplies in the name of the church but then sold them on the black market. Additional false atrocities were submitted in sworn depositions to the justice department. With no proof beyond his own word as an associate involved with my ministries, this calumny wound its way upward through government chambers for two months until it was finally set before the governor for final disposition. The governor has power to order any expatriate to leave the country with only 24 hours’ notice. This does happen. I personally knew one man from the UK who had to depart Mozambique under such an edict, leaving behind everything he and his organization owned, some of which he quickly gave to Grace Missions before his flight departed.
At the time, a trusted Mozambican associate tried to have me expelled from the country, leaving the mission's property for him.
As God would have it, our governor at the time was a physician who, unbeknownst to my adversary, knew me well from his days as Vice Minister of Health. When I was a surgeon at the Marrere Health Center he visited our facility for the sole purpose of meeting with me, and I had met with him at least once in the capital. When he received the report of my supposedly scandalous behavior, he refused to act without an investigation. This was the first time anyone in the government had asked for proof of my colleague’s accusations. I was summoned to the justice offices where the list of accusations fell like a bombshell on my unsuspecting person. My genuine incredulity and shock at what my trusted “friend” had done was the first of many convincing defenses.
The governor knew me and asked for my side of the story.
The charges were audacious, and the house of cards quickly fell to the ground. Apart from our first shipment of surgical equipment, no container had ever been sent to Mozambique by the mission. The church records showed that total offerings from the church never exceeded $200 per year. Even so, while the investigation was ongoing, I could not afford to take risks. I went straight to a lawyer to find out how I could thwart my adversary’s plan to take possession of all the assets registered in the name of our mission which until then had no legal standing in Mozambique apart from my own status as its representative.
The lies were exposed, but in the meantime, I secured the mission's assets by registering it as a business.
Toyota pickup
Our 32-year-old Land Rover, our 16-year-old Land Rover, and our “new” 2019 Toyota
As explained, the lawyer quickly set up and registered a business headed by myself and two missionary friends with the name Grace Missions, Incorporated, such that all our possessions now had a recognized legal entity as their owner. And so, until today, our mission functions legally as a for-profit business, though our bylaws state that all profits must be put back into the business, no compensation can be paid to the partners, and when the business dissolves, all assets must be transferred to Grace Missions and Grace Medical in the U.S.
Though Grace missions is legally a for-profit entity in Mozambique, its bylaws dictate not-for-profit policies.
But the surprise result was that today, we receive considerable benefits, like exemption from customs and taxes, reserved exclusively for businesses that have attracted substantial foreign investment in Mozambique – benefits that religious, charitable, and aid organizations cannot receive despite all the wealth they send to needy people in this country.
Our business status now provides benefits that nonprofits lack.
Perhaps more importantly these days, because we are a business, we are immune to the government’s restrictions against religious organizations. Lately the government says religious workers must come into the country, accomplish their mission, and then return home. The government sees no need for long-term missionaries. If they are doing their jobs correctly, the government alleges, missionaries will have trained Mozambicans to take their place within a few years. Requesting to remain longer is an admission of incompetence and is frowned upon. We know of several missionaries who had to leave the country in the past two years because the government would not renew their resident visas, contending their presence should no longer be needed if they were effectively training Mozambicans to assume their role in the church.
It also insulates us from governmental restrictions on religious organizations.
I never guessed when passing through that ordeal 23 years ago that I would one day be so grateful for the benefits arising from it! But now I thank God who alone knows the end from the beginning and who decrees all things for the ultimate good of His people and for His glory!
Only God knew these benefits 23 years ago!
Please pray: Land case under review – expect decision any day
Far more agonizing than our situation 23 years ago is the land case which continues to grind on. However, the end is near. My lawyer says the justices of the appeals court are deliberating even now on their decision which is expected any day. Soon I will know if that choice land will be restored to me or if I will lose it, together with the $350,000 from our retirement savings spent purchasing and developing it for future mission use. At the time I made the investment, it was the lion’s share of what Julie and I had saved to retire on.
My land case, with $350K of my retirement at stake, may end soon.
Quinta Graça pond area after improvements
I did receive great encouragement recently which I only wish had come sooner. It would have saved much anguish and prayer. The lower court’s decision was handed down last January when I was out of the country. I could only get back to Nampula at the end of July, but then had to give all my time to urgent mission affairs before departing again on mission business until November. Finally, in November, I was able to give attention to my own pressing concerns with the land. I met with a second lawyer specializing in land cases and showed him the decision of the judge and my lawyer’s basis for lodging our appeal.
I met with a second attorney in November.
That lawyer immediately confirmed everything my own lawyer had been telling me from the start, though I was beginning to wonder if my lawyer really knew what he was talking about since the lower court´s decision turned out so differently. The second lawyer confirmed that the judge of the lower court is widely known for corrupt decisions based solely upon what brings benefit to her. He confirmed that this woman’s court has no jurisdiction over land disputes and she should have refused to hear the case at all. Even if her court were permitted to decide land cases, which the law expressly forbids, she would have had to decide in my favor, just as the previous eight tribunals had done, because there was no theft whatever involved in this matter, and her court is restricted to cases of theft. He stated categorically that the appeals court will annul her decision if it acts according to the law. He said my lawyer had represented me perfectly.
He confirmed my lawyer's positive outlook for my case.
Fullest view of Quinta Graça land
This by no means ends the suspense because I am still a rich white foreigner in Africa accused of abusing a poor black Mozambican, even though the Mozambican lost his land five years before I entered the picture. But I am relieved to know that even if her decision is allowed to stand, I did not commit any errors knowingly or unknowingly in purchasing this property, apart from having the audacity to purchase land at all in Africa. I knew that was risky, but for weeks I had committed the decision to the Lord and had waited on Him until every condition I presented in prayer had been fulfilled apart from my own doing.
I'm relieved to know that I'm not in the wrong.
The second lawyer did warn me that until the city council corrects the paperwork error they committed in 2010 and again in 2015, I am vulnerable to unending lawsuits by my adversary. I met with the city council that same month explaining this, but they refuse to do anything, saying the decision of the court will decide the matter. That is not true if they do not correct their error. So that will be another cause for prayer if the court restores the land to me.
Pray that the city will correct the paperwork behind the confusion.
Please continue to pray a little while longer. Unfortunately, if the decision is not released in the next week, I will have to wait until February when the justices resume their duties before learning the result.
The court recesses in January.
Answered prayers: Annual youth conference
In November, Mozambique finally lifted its COVID restrictions on church gatherings, allowing conferences of up to 250 persons in outdoor areas provided masks and social distancing are employed. Quickly, before the President could change his decision due to the outbreak of the Omicron variant, Mission Ekklesia, the indigenous Reformed faith mission we support here in Nampula, launched and executed plans for their fourth annual youth conference. The previous conferences were the Crucified Youth, the Justified Youth, and the Sanctified Youth conferences. This one, held at our property with our conference supplies, was called the Glorified Youth Conference.
Mission Ekklesia hosted a "Glorified Youth" conference on our property as soon as the government permitted large gatherings.
Youth conference center
The conference lasted three days, and despite the short notice, attendance ranged from 160 to 190 young people each day. Messages included two reviews on justification by grace through faith and on sanctification, followed by multiple messages centered on glorification and on the life to come. I was tasked to bring four messages, including the one on justification and two on eternal effects arising from choices we make in this life as Christians.
Close to 200 youth participated over three days.
Youth conference session
The latter messages were especially motivating to me. I delight much in the realization that through all eternity the creatures of heaven will behold more and more marvelous manifestations of God’s attributes. This display will no doubt include “new” attributes which until now we have neither seen nor imagined, even as the angels had never seen or imagined God’s grace until they beheld Him granting to sinful humans the same eternal blessings faultless angels enjoy, humans who had done so much to offend Him and to earn His wrath.
I spoke on eternity, in which we'll know God better.
But beyond learning more and more of God, whose beauty and splendor infinitely surpasses all the amazing things He has created in this world that so enrapture us that we want never to be separated from them through death – apart from beholding our God, there are two other activities we know from Scripture that we will engage in throughout the life to come. One is adoration. But the crowns we will be casting before the throne again and again as our worship to Him through all eternity, whether they are literal or metaphorical, are being crafted by us now in this life. 

Some people will need bulldozers to shovel all their rewards to His feet. Others of us will bring our crown perched on the tip of our little finger – an offering too small even to carry on one’s head. I hope I am not reminded through all eternity of how little I did for Christ in this life, or how much of my prodigious work in this world was burned to ash through being devoid of love for God and compassion for others, or through being laced with pride, envy, and self-love like the offerings of Ananias and Sapphira or the Pharisees.
We are now crafting the crowns we will cast before Him.
Youth conference setup
To accommodate 250 persons with social distancing, we joined together three of our four marquee tents to make a single structure.
The other activity that will consume eternity is service to God. But here again, Christ advises us in Matthew 25:14-30 that the authority entrusted to us in the kingdom of heaven and the opportunities for service in the hereafter will be commensurate with our faithfulness in using for His glory the gifts He has given us in this life. 

I suppose I may be entrusted with emptying the trash baskets in heaven, and I will be so thankful just to be there, but how nice it would be to have real work to do for God in His kingdom, to supply something a bit more substantial than empty trash baskets as my service to Him.
Our faithfulness now determines our responsibilities hereafter.
Youth conference side view
And of course, the only way we can go further tomorrow than we have gone thus far in our service to God is by the power of His Holy Spirit working in us. Without Christ, we can do nothing. In Christ, we have inherited all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, and therefore through Him we can do so much more. But first, we have to stop being perpetually enthralled and consumed with the tinsel and baubles of this age, and we have to start focusing on Christ and the things that matter for eternity.
The Holy Spirit empowers us: focus on Christ!
The third day of the conference was devoted to Biblical work ethic (another one of my messages), and advice from Christian specialists on how to carve out an entrepreneurial career given the relative scarcity of employment here in Mozambique.
I also spoke on a Biblical work ethic.
Conference meal time
The organizers, all Mozambican brothers associated with our church or our ministries, amazed me in pulling off this conference on such short notice and preparing excellent messages with solid content. HeartCry Missionary society provided half of the financial support and made it possible for many young people to attend through subsidizing registration fees.
HeartCry Missionary Society supported the conference.
Answered prayers: Update on our COVID hospital
The Omicron variant of the Coronavirus, first identified in neighboring South Africa, soon was found in Mozambique, but like all the Corona variants before it, it has no teeth in our land. I continue to say that eventually someone needs to discover what we have that the developed countries do not have, or more likely, what we do NOT have that is ubiquitous in developed regions, to discover the connection between the virus’ virulence in the States and South Africa and its ineffectiveness in Mozambique. Whatever the explanation, we thank God for continuing to spare us through all the stages so far of this pandemic.
Omicron, like all previous COVID variants, has little effect in Mozambique.
I last wrote during the peak of the Delta variant wave in Nampula when we had a daily hospital census of only 25 ill persons in a catchment area of 6 million Mozambicans. After that report, our census soon subsided again to zero patients where it remains even today during the 3rd wave associated with the Omicron variant!
After a peak census of 25 inpatients per day with Delta, we're back to zero.
But even better for Grace Missions, two weeks ago the government finally finished refurbishing an old, abandoned hospital only a quarter mile from us which now serves as the COVID treatment center for the province. They moved all their staff from our facility – there were no patients to transfer – and have turned our building back over to us! It was not cleaned or disinfected; we were not informed or thanked; the keys were simply left in the exterior doors for any passerby to take; the interior is now a disaster area with destroyed sinks, toilets, and broken tiles all about; and one of our mattresses has disappeared.
Before:
The government has moved the COVID treatment center out of our facility -- leaving it trashed.
Nurse's station at hospital
After:
Hospital bathroom
Hospital waste room
Hospital sink
Hospital tiles
Broken tile in hospital
But we are grateful to have our hospital back! Now we can begin restoration work and resume preparations to open our own clinic.



















Now we can clean it up and open our clinic!
Answered prayers: Opening the medical clinic
We are delighted that by the grace of God, all three physicians in our church have now secured positions with government hospitals in our own province and are physically present in Nampula after being scattered to the far corners of the country upon graduation from medical school. That makes it easier to negotiate having them transferred to our oversight and employment while retaining their contracts as government physicians. That request must be approved by the same provincial authorities who are now deeply in our debt according to the agreement they signed with the mission when we offered our hospital to them, but which they have been unable to fulfil due to lack of money. According to that agreement, the health department owes us $6,853 in electric bills and must restore the hospital to its former condition at their own expense. So I am not surprised that after meeting with them today to discuss these concerns, the authorities were quick to do what they could do – namely, transfer all these physicians to our clinic AND pay their salaries, as long as we pay the salaries for the physicians who must take their place in their current posts.
Our church's three Mozambican doctors are set to serve in our clinic.
In January, our dentist, who has worked for over two years in the war-torn province to the north of us, will also be free to request an unpaid leave of absence to work for us, also without losing his status as a government employee.
Our dentist will soon be available.
Once we get these four providers transferred to our mission, we will proceed with opening our clinic, hopefully in April, while waiting for the Lord to provide the means to later open the adjoining surgical hospital.
We hope to open the clinic in April.
Lino
Carlos
Iloida
Aquiles
To import all the medications and medical supplies we need as a clinic or hospital, we must also get final approval of our pharmaceutical business. The only requirement still lacking is a completed building for the offices and warehouse. This should be ready in a few months. In the meantime, the hospital wing, which will not be used until we have a surgeon on hand, will more than meet the requirements of the Pharmacy Board.  Please pray that God will continue to grant us favor with that board too as we press toward the goal of launching our own pharmaceutical business.
Pray for approval of our pharmaceutical business.
The final matter is our need for short term specialists from the U.S. credentialed in general medical care – ER physicians, family practitioners, or internal medicine doctors – to provide back-up consultation for our rookie medical staff. Please pray that God will raise up the succession of short-term physicians we are looking for!
Pray for short-term supervising physicians!
Surgeon for Grace Surgical Center still needed – Please pray
As reported in the last newsletter, we were delighted when an excellent candidate for the surgical position in our hospital visited Nampula with his family and left enthused about the opportunities for service here. After that visit he submitted his formal offer to work with Grace Medical and has met twice with the hospital board to finalize those arrangements. During those meetings, we learned that despite the family’s keen desire to serve in Nampula, they have misgivings about fitting in with the philosophy and priorities of our mission. They are taking additional time for prayer and reflection as there are many other opportunities before them. Please ask God to lead them to the place He wants for them and where they will find much satisfaction serving Him, which we still hope will be with Grace Medical.
The excellent surgeon who visited us is still praying about whether Grace Medical is a good fit for him.
As they seek the Lord’s will for them, pray for us as we continue our plans to recruit additional surgeons desiring to work in an evangelistically oriented hospital committed to the gospel of salvation by grace through faith and administered by Reformed Evangelical missionaries sent out under the authority of their local churches!
Pray that God will send us surgeons.
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Grace Missions | 210-865-6700 | gracetomozambique@gmail.com | www.gracemissionsministries.org