A violent civil war swept across Mozambique in the 1980s, with fighting spreading to even the most remote corners of this vast country. Many of the Mwinika villages were forced to relocate to other areas. One night, the Mwinika people—who adhered to a mix of the area’s dominant religion and animism—came together and cried out to God for help.
“In 1989, during the civil war, when all was dark and difficult for us and we were displaced in another village, we got together as a group and we prayed,” said a Mwinika tribal leader. “We did not know who to pray to but we asked God to help us to know Him better. We knew that we needed Him, but we had no way to hear or understand His words.”
Over a decade later, an MAF plane soared over northern Mozambique carrying New Tribes Mission (NTM) missionaries Phil and Elin Henderson to begin their ministry with the Mwinika people.
“From day one, MAF has been a support to us. Dave LePoidevin flew us into Mozambique for the first time in January of 2004,” said Phil. “I remember flying in, and Dave dipping down low over the area where we work now and saying, ‘You know, there is a people group down there that needs to be reached.’ Little did we know that the Lord would send us just there!”
MAF has served organizations, like NTM, in Mozambique since 1999. Mozambique is not only one of the poorest nations on earth, it is also home to several groups like the Mwinika who had not been previously reached. MAF works to reach the people of this country with Christ’s love.
The Mwinika are a very tight community—until the NTM missionaries, the Hendersons and Hattinghs, arrived, the Mwinika had largely resisted any other teaching outside of their own religion.
The Hendersons and the Hattinghs began their work on translating the Bible into the Mwinika language by getting to know the people and their customs. Over time they started to see positive results. A particular incident stands out to Nadia Hattingh:
“I heard a voice—it was our neighbor’s voice—reading to his family from God’s Word in the Mwinika language,” said Nadia. “What a miracle to hear that one voice in the total darkness of night! How amazing to hear, to experience how far God has brought this people.”
“MAF has been a big help in bringing in translation consultants and teams of different sorts. It is much easier to throw people on a 50-minute flight versus and eight-hour car trip to come down here. This allows us to accomplish in a weekend what would otherwise take almost a week of travel time,” said Elin Henderson.
The Mwinika people have come a long way. Their initial prayer in 1989 led to a movement that has the potential to sweep through many other tribes in the northern part of Mozambique.
“After struggling with the questions of being spiritually deceived for generations, another Mwinika leader finally concluded: “ ‘We have to go out and tell everyone about Jesus! We should tell everyone, and if they accept it, they accept it. If they don’t, they don’t. But we must tell them,’ ” said Nadia Hattingh.
People groups like the Mwinika are the reason MAF works to overcome isolation—so that God’s Word can be brought into remote areas where lives and communities can be transformed.
“What we didn’t know was that the Mwinika prayed together as a community years before we set foot in their area,” said Nadia. “We never knew that they saw us as a clear answer to prayer. But God knew! He heard their prayers and answered them!”
Story originally appeared in FlightWatch 2014, Vol 4.