Virei is a small town nestled out in the desert of the Namibe province in Angola. It serves as a hub for the nomadic Mucubal tribe. It’s a place we’ve been directed to in previous years’ reconnaissance missions as we’ve sought a strategy for reaching this unreached group. We had heard over and over, that this group was yet to hear that there is an almighty God who loves them so much that He sent His Son to redeem them. Most had never been given the opportunity to choose to follow Jesus.
It’s been three years since I was last in Virei. A labor of logistics, linguistics and immigration has filled that timespan as we’ve worked and waited to get back to these people. This month it was finally time. 8 adults and 9 small children set out from our home base in Namibe for two expeditions to Virei, a 2+ hour drive away. We packed to be as self sufficient as possible, knowing that clean water, food and fuel, are often hard to come by in this region. I thank the Lord for His provision of an amazing off-road caravan that makes this kind of work as a family so much easier than before!
We camped in the bush, about 10kms from town, positioning ourselves as strategically as possible to attract a crowd to share our message with. Once we found the right campsites, it didn’t take much to gather the people. The Mucubal tribe are herdsmen, following water for their animals, and sojourning between circular homes spread throughout the bush. They came together to eat a meal with us and we slaughtered a goat to feed the crowd, while we shared about God’s identity. At the first gathering, over 40 men and women joined us. It was the afternoon and as things were wrapping up, one of the elder women told us, “Some of us want to come back tonight to hear more on this subject. We will make a fire and we would like you to tell us more about this God. Will you do that?” Of course we were delighted! That night we shared under the moonlight around the fire. So hungry were the crowd of twenty or so that had returned, that they had brought their beds with them, to simply sleep there in the bush when the meeting ended!
During our second expedition, we visited a different location, one that we’ve been to in the past. We reconnected with a couple of Mucubal families that have now seen Overland Missions’ team return to them at least four times. They are always touched to be remembered. We shared another meal with another 40 or so people, and the Word of God was delivered again. The response? “We’ve never heard this before! What you’re telling us, we’ve never heard of. We need to know more about this. Please come back soon.”
These two expeditions have given our long-term vision here a massive kick-start. We were so encouraged to be warmly and curiously received. We loved how many questions we were asked. Deep questions, that we have deep and truthful answers to. We found the Mucubal we met to be so much fun. Our kids played with theirs, and they played with us, joking around as we took and shared photos, and we all laughed as we attempted to pick up some more Mucubal vocabulary!
Our team will be returning to Virei soon. The doors to the tribe have been opened by the tribal chief and the local authorities. The local church is in support of reaching the Mucubal tribe. We pray now for the unquenchable fire of the Lord to touch lives, and for revival to break out in the people!