Letter From Francois
For months now, we have been locked up, slowed down in business, confined to our homes, forced to wear masks, separated from our church family meetings and seeing the deaths of thousands reported on the news. All the while we have this Covid death threat hanging over everything we do. Yet, so clearly, the Word of our Lord says “I did not give you a spirit of fear but of power and love and of a sound mind”.
Recently again, a dear friend of ours reported that a member of their family has passed away after suffering a massive stroke. But this cannot be the dictate of our life. If we will allow fear to rule over us, we will stop living.
The Bible tells the story in the New Testament of the persecution, imprisonment, punishment and at times killing of those who loved Christ but nowhere do we see them stop living, giving up hope. Quite the opposite! In the face of persecution, imprisonment or death these people became even bolder at proclaiming our Lord Jesus Christ!
I recently watched a TBN broadcast of the 2nd program called Pastors under fire”. The American dream is of a land of liberty and freedom, yet the steps taken to stop the church from gathering seems disproportionate. A (Christian) university are allowed an assembly of 758 people but the moment that this meeting has a religious service, such as a healing prayer service, only 137 people are allowed inside. The rest of the people have to leave the auditorium. Does this not seem strange to you?
Police blocked entry to parking lots of churches as some Governors gave (illegal) instructions to prevent access to the churches. At the same time, death by overdosing among drug addicts, who were previously supported by the church ministering to them and suicides shot up! The church, which is the Body of Christ, which some claim has no “place” in the “modern” world, was side-lined and as the church was silenced, so the loss of life escalated!
After a few quiet months while we were riding out the Covid-19 restrictions, we bought what we could to meet the Covid restriction requirements, placed it in the hands of our teachers and resumed classes where possible. Our classes are small since we only work in rural areas. Many of these classes are now at the home of somebody as the churches are small and poor and simply do not have the funds to procure the materials that they need to re-open their doors.
I was fortunate to be able to travel to Mozambique at the end of November with 3 other brothers and met with our district supervisors face to face for the first time in nine months. As we sat down and shared with each other it was amazing to hear how many testimonies were about being watched as they gathered to meet, strangers knocking suddenly on the doors and then, as God directed the teachers to follow protocol, many confessed that they came to spy on the proceedings.
God Bless You. Enjoy this newsletter.
What the Lord God Sees –
… , People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart“
By Nelson Muiambo
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” 1 Samuel 16:7, NLT
Saul was tall and handsome—an impressive-looking man. Samuel may have been trying to find someone who looked like Saul to be Israel’s next king, but God warned him against judging by appearance. When people judge by outward appearance, they may overlook quality individuals who lack the particular physical qualities society currently admires. But appearance doesn’t reveal what people are really like or what their true value is.
Fortunately, God judges by faith and character, not appearance. And because only God can see what’s on the inside, only He can accurately judge people. Most people spend hours each week maintaining their outward appearance; they should do even more to develop their inner character. While everyone can see your face, only you and God know what your heart really looks like. What steps are you taking to improve the attractiveness of your heart in God’s eyes?
Are you seeing it God’s way?
Whether looking at ourselves or others, are we seeing things through God’s eyes or our own? People of all ages, have struggled day by day trying to find a way in which they could impress others, either by words or actions.
At the start of 2020, many people said that it will be a blessed year in every way. While thinking this, their expectations were that all things would go as planned but then came the Covid-19 onset and suddenly people found themselves in a situation of despair and their former expectations turned into panic. The world was turned upside down, suddenly with less hope. The churches were forced to shut its doors as lockdown restrictions were implemented. From a human perspective it seemed as if it was the end of everything.
But in this same situation, the Lord God Almighty saw a different picture of what was taking place:
First, when we as people, said that 2020 should be a blessed year, the Lord confirmed that is true. But not in the way that we expected it to be. He saw an opportunity to draw us close to Him for a deeper relationship, everyone whether individuals at home, families or cell groups in Bible study and prayer. He took the church from the big buildings back to its roots, back to house-to-house fellowship. What was most precious in the Kingdom of God, was the many people who found their way back to God during this time. They had the opportunity to meet with the Lord Jesus in their homes.
Secondly, most of the time when things go well, we keep ourselves busy to the point that we have no time to spend with the people who needs our attention. The Lord saw 2020 as a year of household restoration. As we all know, our daily agendas do not cope with the family demands. We give more time to the daily grind than to our relationships. We run up and down looking for the “better” we can get in life but we miss out on the most important thing that we have in life: our family fellowship. The scriptures say in Genesis 2:18: Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make for him a suitable helper.” This year the Lord God gave everyone the opportunity to renew his/her relationship with their companions, their family.
Thirdly, the Lord God allowed the Covid-19 pandemic to call the whole world to a sense of how precious life is and how great its Giver is. For the first time in history the world stopped and people of all nations recognized that there is a God who is able to rescue them from every situation. Instead of relying on human resources they cried out to Him for help. Although many things failed, humanity received this to their advantage.
In summary, let me say that God always works for the good of those who loves Him. Even through difficulties He is always there for them. Therefore, let us rejoice in His presence even when life looks full of uncertainty. Let us try to see things as God sees them.
FINAL REPORT ON 2020 EVENTS FROM BROTHER NELSON
“… , many of the churches have not met the required conditions to re-open their public worship/fellowship“
Regarding our activities during the last few months of 2020 and picking up from our previous report, the following events took place:
As mentioned in our previous report, the government authorities have declared a state of emergency in Mozambique. Since then, they have announced the lifting of some of the restrictions in regard to social meetings but these still persists! We were able to restart our normal meetings in some of our districts like Chokwe, Manjangue and Massingir but in other areas things are still not operational as the local authorities prohibit us. Many of the churches have not met the required conditions to re-open their public worship/fellowship. To respond to this and others challenges in those districts, we decided to provide our teachers with sanitation materials, to prevent clashes with the authorities when having our classes. But even though these classes are held at some of students’ homes, we are sometimes surprised by local police arriving to check if we are observing the government directives of distancing, wearing of masks, hand washing, etc.
We praise the Lord that none of us got in serious problems until now, though one of our students at Bhanga, Massingir district, pastor Frederic Ngoveni has been accused by the community as a witch and was taken to court where he is still waiting for the verdict. All this happened in this pandemic time.
During this same period, we managed to have our Constitutions and Certificates published as the Government requires all the Religious and Non-profit organizations to do. It was expensive but to avoid problems with them we did it and praise be to Our Heavenly Father, we succeeded. It is a step forward in shutting the mouths of some of the authorities who work against us, complaining about everything in order to find an excuse to steal from the people.
In summary, looking back at all that we went through this year, from a human perspective, this was one of the toughest years in the history of the present generation but when we look at it from the spiritual side and in the way God sees things, this was a year of restoration. A year to stop relying on human resources but depend instead on God’s favor. A year to reconcile families, restore broken marriages and relationships between parents and their children. A year of revelations, of human attempts to destroy the human race and others.
Above all, this was the year of God’s Sovereignty revealed over every ruler, scientist and everything that has power or authority.
Finally, let me express our gratitude to all our supporters for their commitment to the work of God that is carried out by us here in Mozambique. We all know and we have seen that there were big financial challenges to sustain business in a time like this. Many people were forced to close their companies. Some have nothing to even pay their employees with but even as we go through all this, having limited funds and without any income, you continued sharing with us the little you had on your table every month. You took us financially through to the end of the year without us starving. Allow me to say thank you so much. May the God of all riches provide for you more than what you gave out for His work.
To our director and his family, we say thank you. There’s a saying in our society that says:” A good father is seen in how he is able to provide for his household”. This pictures what our director is, not only in providing the physical needs but both spiritual and physical needs. We wish you all the good and better, that the Lord our God has at His disposal and pray that He will continue blessing and keeping you alive and healthy for the Glory of His name.
Ebenezer! 1 Sam 7:12
By Nelson Muiambo
On the 7th October I was involved in an accident at Matuba while returning from Maputo where I went to finalize the publishing issues. A pedestrian ran into the road, where he was hit by our vehicle and sustained a broken leg. The Nissan was damaged quite a bit and had to be towed to Chokwe for panelbeating. The injured man was taken to hospital, initially in Chokwe but two days later he was transferred to Xai-Xai, the main hospital of Gaza province, where he spent about two weeks for further treatment. After his discharge from the hospital, he still needed to return for check-ups periodically. I praise the Lord for His care and protection over me and my wife who was with me in the vehicle. Though I sustained a scrape on the wrist, it was minor and we were not injured. The police case officer informed me that I will need to appear in court, as a case was opened and this is standard procedure. I have not been notified of a date as yet.
During the same month, on the 29th October, the Mabalane supervisors’ house was hit by a storm and its verandah was totally destroyed. The roof also needed repair as some corrugated roof sheets were torn during the storm. On the same day that this storm hit Mabalane and roughly at the same time, my daughter, Rebecca, burned herself with hot water, that was put aside by her older brother Reginaldo. She was hurt quite badly.
We praise the Lord because He is always in control of every situation that we are passing through. The Mabalane house is now repaired and my daughter is healthy. All the glory be to our Heavenly Father who is always there for us in His perfect time. When the enemy tries to drag us down, we are more than conquerors through Jesus our Lord and Savior.
By Francois and Nelson
“…this has caused roads to be closed and villages to be evacuated”
Mozambique seems to be lying right in the path of so many cyclones coming over Madagascar and making landfall in the Beira region. From there its path of destruction can go South, West or North bringing immense destruction inland.
On our Rivoni Broadcast on WhatsApp 29 Dec we were asking for prayers as a cyclone warning was issued to Moz. The storm was predicted to impact the central and south with massive showers and winds raging from 36 to 160 km/h.
I mentioned that this strange phenomenon seems to occur very regularly on about the 31st Dec with massive winds and rain, flooding and ripping off roofs, as we experienced at the mission.
We were spared this as the storm went from Beira further north than the predicted impact in the south and I will credit it definitely to the prayer intervention of God’s Saints.
At the end of January 2021, a new cyclone threat was broadcast, once again coming over Madagascar through the Mozambique channel. Cyclone Eloise brought a lot of rain and as water flowed down to the sea a new secondary threat developed that is even more dangerous, as we saw in 2012-13 floods.
The cyclone brought rain to South Africa as well. Several rivers from different provinces in SA, flow down to the Indian ocean, combining one by one, until eventually becoming the Limpopo, which flows through Mozambique, with the Barrage dam at Chinhacanine where we have our mission HQ. By the grace of God, He gave oom Ben the wisdom to select a place that is on one of the few hills overlooking the flat land stretching for miles around. Approximately 20km away lies Chokwe, a major town in the area, right on the rivers path.
From the Gauteng region, rivers like the Jukskei and the Magalies combine and flow down. Then in Mpumalanga, the Elephants, Crocodile, and more from various places feed together until eventually the last section becomes the mighty Limpopo. Now, in February rain is falling widely in South Africa and this has caused roads to be closed and villages to be evacuated in southern Mozambique.
At the previous massive floods in Chokwe area, 1000’s of people had to flee in the middle of the night after heavy rains in SA caused a sudden down rush of water flowing to Mozambique. This caught the Mozambican authorities off guard and it overran the banks of the Limpopo and destroyed roads, bridges, homes and businesses. While many were able to escape, some with their lives only, others drowned or were killed by objects and livestock, farmland and crops were swept away. This damage took years to repair in a very impoverished country.
The current rain in South Africa is expected to continue into April. Having grown up in the hot, dry, Northern Cape, now staying in Pretoria for the past thirty plus years, l love the gentle rain, the rustle of the leaves in the wind, the clouds overhead and the green surroundings. But, please pray with us for the protection of all our people staying down river as we enjoy God’s showers that bless us so much!
Visitors from S.A.
By Nelson Muiambo
On the 25th November 2020 we received our director here by us after a long absence due to Covid border restrictions. He and the team with him arrived well and in time as we were preparing for the staff’s yearend function. We had the opportunity to learn various lessons from them, which empowered us for future challenges. We are so thankful for this privilege, hoping that the same team will return to minister to us and not only them but bringing even more new faces along with them! As brothers in Christ, we feel encouraged when our brothers from outside the country comes to visit. We gain more experiences when chatting with them and we would like to receive more visitors next year, God willing. The yearend function went well. All our people were happy, empowered and looking forward to the coming year.
Our planned trips to Mozambique came to a halt, as no one can tell us when cross border travelling will be allowed again. We will update you on planned future trips when international travel resumes.
New Communication Forum
We aim to send the Rivoni Newsletters quarterly. For those who pray with us for events as they happen, we use WhatsApp to send the Rivoni Broadcast Messages. These messages appear as if sent to you in person on your WhatsApp App on your cellphone and all replies are to Francois in person and is not seen by any others to avoid message overload on the group.
However, we want to create a Rivoni Forum on the Signal Messaging platform. This app is similar to the WhatsApp App and can be downloaded on your cell phone from Google Playstore.
The Rivoni Forum group will be created with the aim to allow interaction between the members of the group, from people who share the Rivoni vision of reaching people and teaching the Word of God. It will allow anyone to view, post messages to encourage or reply to issues and will ideally involve staff and members of Rivoni Ministries in SA and Mozambique as well as you, our supporters to join in. The theme will be relevant daily Living Christianity, with posts about Rivoni, video clips of messages and music that means something to you, links to web messages that you may consider important to the community and yes, the occasional funny post will not be frowned upon IF it makes us laugh! The people added to this group will be removed from the broadcast group so that you don’t get our messages and plea’s for prayer requests twice.
Please let me hear from you if you are interested by giving me a WhatsApp or Signal message. I would like to hear from those of you who are interested. I will be putting forward the suggestion for this Forum via the Rivoni Broadcast as well.
MAY GOD BLESS YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
Thank you for what you give to this mission. To some anonymous contributors, may God who sees in the secret reward you in public. Myself and our staff are indebted to all of you who are giving so faithfully every month to continue this work.
God Bless You!
In the love of Christ,
Francois and Dorathea Du Plessis