Numbers can be deceiving, so they say. They can also be very informative. Today, we would like to pass along a few numbers from Mozambique, with a prayer that they will be both informative and encouraging to you.
The extension bible school program continues to operate throughout the 10 provinces of Mozambique, with 100 centers and 1,000 students. In July, a successful 3-day alumni seminar was held for extension bible school graduates in the central Province of Manica. Over 50 attented part, or all, of the seminar. Common-law marriages and polygamy are big problems in Mozambique. For a student to graduate from our Bible Schools, he must be legally married, if he/she has been living in a common-law relationship. It was interesting to learn at this seminar that 45 couples in that Province had become legally married because of the Bible School. May others have done the same in other parts of the country.
From September 14th to October 12th, I travelled over 10,000 km by land to visit 28 extension school centers in the northern and central parts of the country. There were 8 graduations, at which 34 students graduated. These became part of more than 100 students throughout the country to graduate this year from theis 4 year program.
The Northern Province of Cabo Delgado is lion country. While I was up there, hunters killed a lion that, over the period of 3 months, had killed 15 people. I was encouraged and challenged when I heard of one of the bible school ladies in that area, that walks almost 1 day to get to the center center for weekly bible study. Pray for her safety. She and others like her have an intesnse desire to learn more about the Word of God.
During the past 2 years, many pastors (present count 150) from 45 different denominations have been taking special course at the Maputo Bible School. New students are entering all the time. At the first graduation, held in November, over 50 pastors recieved their certificates.
The AIDS prevention program, sponsored by the Christian Education Department, of which Linda is the directo, continues to produce positive results. In October, 48 teachers in the graduating class attended a 2 day seminar on AIDS prevention. There were 33 that voluntarily signed a covenant stating that they will practice abstinense until they are married, or in the case of those who are already married, that they will be faithful to their partner.
The AIDS problem in sub-Saharan Africa is critical. A U.N. report for 2003, sent out in July ’04 stated that 2,200,000 people died of AIDS that year. Many of these were in Mozambique, where 470,000 orphans have been left without their parents. The local Maputo newspaper has reported that an estimated 97,000 people will die of AIDS (SIDA) in Mozambique in 2004. Before the AIDS epidemic struck this country, life expectancy was 42.5 years. It is now 38 years, and by 2010 it is estimated that the average life span will be 27 years. Pray!
From August to October the National Christian Department sponsored a leadership school for church leaders, as well as a training program for those interested in working with children. Laura Templeto and Angela Baker, from the USA, were in charge. This year, this annual short-term training program resulted in 187 graduates. Besides these, 180 graduated from a similiar program that the C.E. Department held in the local churches.
We are as equally grateful to all who have entered with us into the new shared funding support program of the Missions Department. Thanks for our support during this year of 2004. We trust that you will be encouraged by this letter to know that you have been making a worthwhile investments in missions. We encourage you to stand with us in prayer and financial support during 2005. as we continue to help meet the needs of many Mozambicans.
Now for the last number – 25. Yes, December 25th is upon us once again – that date that focuses our attention in a special way on God’s provision for us, by sending Jesus to be the Saviour of all who personally believe in Him. May he bless you on that day, and may 2005 be a year of continued blessings in every way from His good hand. It could be the year of Christ’s return.
Bill and Linda Mercer
P.S. For anyone that would be interested in being part of our ministry in Mozambique, you can send your donations to The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, 2450 Milltower Court, Mississauga, ON L5N 5Z6, Canada. Be sure to clearly state that your gift is for the ministry of Bill and Linda Mercer in Mozambique. Thanks.
Any believer ready to share the good news with or in another country or culture, including your hometown. We are on a mission, our mission is the great commission. Jesus said, go into the entire world and preach the gospel to everyone. This is our goal, our task, our assignment, our work, and our objective, our calling. And anyone can do it, if they want to become a missionary for the Lord. God wants to use you right where you are, there is a work to do, many people have never heard the good news that God really loves them, and has provided salvation and eternal life through Jesus Christ for them. The greatest tragedy of all, is for some one to go to hell, never having heard the gospel. What an awesome responsibility we have.