“Grão em grão” was the phrase we became accustomed to while we were learning Portuguese, meaning bit by bit. Word by word, encounter by encounter, mistake by mistake, was how we proceeded through the learning process until the pieces finally seemed to be coming together. It took time, it took focus, it took humility and it took dedication.
“Grão em grão” is also how I would describe our ministry’s progress in Angola. Having learned the Portuguese language sufficiently, we’re accomplishing much relationally each day here.
This morning we met with for coffee with a brother in the faith who pastors a large church here in town. He shared incredible stories with us of the Church’s growth in Angola and his own adventures in seeking to bring the Gospel to Angola’s rural tribes. My heart was racing as he shared how back in 1994, during the civil war, he and a few believing friends decided to venture to a small town (small meaning five or so houses at that time!), where they believed the nomadic Mucubal tribe at times could be found. Their desire was to meet them and share with them God’s love and the availability of relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.
They drove on and on, further and further into the desert where no marked road existed. At one point they found a Mucubal couple, and while they didn’t speak the same language (the couple only spoke Mucubal and the pastors only Portuguese), they discerned that they had taken the wrong track, away from the town. Fortunately they had carried extra fuel, and were able to retrace their steps, eventually stumbling upon the town.
The few locals that they found informed them that they likely wouldn’t encounter any Mucubal unless they went to a trading post where they sometimes came to buy local wine. Our pastor friend and his buddies went there and were fortunate enough to find not only a few Mucubal, but also someone who could translate! They shared their message and the following dialogue ensued:
MUCUBAL: “So you’re saying that God exists?”
PASTOR: “Yes, God exists.”
MUCUBAL: “If that’s the case, then why are we experiencing drought? Other parts of the country have rain, but we have none. Why is that?”
PASTOR: “We need to pray. We can ask God, and because He hears us, He will send the rain that you and your herds need.”
MUCUBAL: “But how do we pray?”
PASTOR: “We simply talk to God.”
MUCUBAL: “Ok. So do it! Ask Him to send rain for us!”
The group of men prayed.
MUCUBAL: “Is that it? When did God say the rain would come?”
PASTOR: “He didn’t give us a day, only that the rain is coming. Be ready.”
The group left and headed home, having not planned to stay away the whole night. Later they came to learn that it rained hard that night, for the first time in years! When the pastor sought permission to plant a church in that small town, he was at first greeted with resistance. The head chief said there was no need of religion there and that the church was unnecessary. Then a Mucubal man recognized him from the wine store. “This was the man that prayed for rain!” he exclaimed. “You’re the one who prayed for rain?” the head Chief asked. “You’re from the church of the rain?” he asked with interest. “Yes, that was me,” said the pastor. It seemed the knowledge of that encounter had spread throughout the whole tribe! “Come! Plant your church here!” exclaimed the head Chief. And so a door to the Mucubal was opened in that town. Today that church still exists and is actively spreading the Gospel in that town.
It’s people like this pastor and his team that we’ve come to support in Angola. We see in Angola a harvest ready, but a severe lack of laborers, especially in the rural areas. Our pastor friend is laboring with a team of brothers and sisters who have caught a vision from God. It’s always a huge honor to find these people and learn of their endeavors. It’s the way that we at Overland Missions operate, seeking to establish and support the indigenous move of God. Finding people like this, and learning of any foundations that the Gospel has in a place, is like mining for gold. It takes investment on many levels, but the gold, small though it may seem, is so utterly worth all the investment that it costs to find it. Here’s to both the mining and the harvesting of more gold in Angola!