While World Relief has been involved in rural Mozambique for many years, the challenges have always been high. Endemic flooding, alternating with periodic drought, causes regular crop failure and food shortages for those living in rural Gaza. The economic risk is so high that many men leave the villages to work temporarily in South Africa, only returning to their villages for a few months each year. Others abandon their villages completely and seek a better life in the city. The spiritual scene is not much better. While there are some healthy churches in the region, many are syncretistic, combining Christianity, Marxism, and traditional African religions into a new religion that is only partially Christian (at best). In light of these and other challenges, in 2017 World Relief decided to close their operations in Mozambique.
Nevertheless, two of our partners could not give up. Jamene and Pieter, two of the senior staff of World Relief Mozambique, decided to persevere. While the complexities remain, nothing had changed for the 67% of Mozambique that still lives in villages. Their communities are still at risk. In response, these two leaders began the laborious process of registering a new organization that would retain the same focus as World Relief, only on a smaller and more focused scale. Pieter explained his approach succinctly through his multi-faceted diagram, including God, church, discipleship groups, agriculture fields, and lots of arrows. “God pours out his blessings into small communities (discipleship groups), who will be restored to each other and to God. As a result, these people both bless their churches and their communities as they go to work in their fields (collective farms established by discipleship groups). As they invite others in the community to join them in both locations, both in the field and in church, the blessings multiply as more and more restoration and reconciliation occurs.”
This approach may appear simplistic, but it follows a very biblical principle. God has blessed His people to be a blessing to others. One village elder not part of the network was quite skeptical. “I thought this project would fail,” he remarked. “Who wants to work so hard for such little money? There’s no money in farming!” However, one year later, after two full seasons of growth, he felt quite differently. When he saw the profits distributed to the village farmers, he was impressed. “Now that I see their profit, I am amazed! I want to be part!” In fact, what he actually said was that he wanted one of the white envelopes, the ones that held the profits from the farm that were delivered to the participants. One woman planned to install a cement floor in her home so that it would not be muddy during the rainy season. Another planned to replace her thatch roof with a metal one. Everyone gave thanks to God for His provision for them and celebrated with family and friends.
While every development project is full of unknown risk and complexity, the intent is to empower the local churches to serve and empower their people. While each farmer was trained and guided in how to grow crops, it was the work of their own hands that tended their produce. The collective farm profits first paid back their input costs of seed, fertilizer, and pesticides, as well as capital toward the initial investment. Then it was divided up among the farmers according to the percent each produced. The intent, thus, is to empower local believers and local churches so they, not a foreign entity, can both provide for their families and be a blessing to others in their community. So, if you can pardon the pun, Second’s role is to provide seed money that local churches and communities can use to develop their own farms, which they in turn can use to be a blessing to others.