Justice

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Justice

Hope for Mozambique

July 16, 2019 by

When I read an article recently explaining that the Islamic State has its eyes on the east African country of Mozambique I was not one bit surprised. Radical Islamist ideology tends to flourish among young Muslims who have grown up in economic and social disparity, and I witnessed plenty of that in the five weeks I spent in central Mozambique in April. But also in those weeks, while responding to the devastation wrought by Cyclone Idai, our team from Samaritan’s Purse witnessed plenty of signs of hope.

people in a boat in Mozambique

We were stationed at Buzi, a town of twenty thousand on the low level plains surrounding the Buzi River. The town was in bad shape even before the storm; after a generation of unemployment and extreme poverty, a majority of households lived a hard existence. Food, which as far as I could see was rice and sometimes dried fish, was cooked on an open fire. They hauled river water for drinking and washing. Many houses were constructed of sticks and dried mud; when the cyclone came with three days of heavy rain and wind, all of those houses were levelled. A day later most of the town, including the regional hospital, was under one to two meters of water. The people’s experience with a rugged lifestyle turned out to be a blessing, because it would be months before electricity, water, or normal food supplies were restored.

In the aftermath of the storm there was a desperate need for the medical services that were lost with the flooded hospital. Within three weeks of the cyclone Samaritan’s Purse had an Emergency Field Hospital operating. I got there shortly after the hospital opened and was responsible for the IT, communications, and electrical equipment. I soon found out that being the spare man at the hospital meant I was often called on to help transport patients or equipment, or to join in prayer for difficult situations that arose.

In the end, this kind of loving care is what will drive out despair, depression, and the threat of extremism taking root: the hope that things can be better if we put the effort in.

There were many such situations that I will not forget. At the end of one of the first hectic days, we were called by one of the nurses to the shade behind the back tent. A tiny baby had been born prematurely at twenty weeks. He lived for only a few minutes, and the family didn’t want him. Those who were available stopped what they were doing and we gathered around this little boy. The twenty-third psalm was read, and we prayed that this little soul would be with Jesus. Different staff members told of losing children in their own families. It was one of many special experiences that I feel privileged to have been a part of.

Of course we wondered how the relief effort at the hospital would continue after our group left. But in the last weeks we began to see signs that the work we had helped start would continue. Local pastors were volunteering their time to pray with patients in the hospital. Volunteer church groups were repairing dozens of homes every day. A team was putting a roof on the school so their children could attend normal classes again. We heard many times from the local hospital workers how they were impressed by the care they saw and wanted to carry it on. It takes a lot longer than five weeks to really pass such things on, but we do have reason to be hopeful.

And in the end, this kind of loving care is what will drive out despair, depression, and the threat of extremism taking root: the hope that things can be better if we put the effort in. If we trust in a loving God who sends help when we need it, we have no reason to lose hope. And that is a challenge that I will, personally, never forget.


Ian Mow lives with his wife, Sarah, at Darvell, at Bruderhof in East Sussex, UK.

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