Recently I was privileged to visit the African country of Mozambique for the first time. I flew from London to Johannesburg over night and preached at the Cornerstone Church there Sunday morning and Doxa Deo in Pretoria Sunday night. I then flew into Pemba, Mozambique where I was greeted by Rolland and Heidi Baker plus a group of Mozambican children (see the photo).
Rolland and Heidi have been in Mozambique for twenty-one years. They run what is called Iris Global. They have founded thousands of churches. In Pemba, they feed 5,000 poor people daily, educate 3,500 daily (grades 1 to 12), train 200 Mozambique people for ministry daily, and in Harvest School of Mission train international students who come to learn how to minister to and pray for people in the bush. They live by faith day by day and sometimes wonder if there will be food for the day. There is a least one story of God multiplying food. A dinner was prepared for only twelve people. Eighty people showed up – hungry! Without preparing extra food (which they did not have) everyone was filled. Ninety-eight percent of the converts in Mozambique are ex-Muslims, the rest being former animists. While there I spoke to 300 young people from 29 countries. I also met with some 30 people (mostly young – in their 20s and 30s) who are on the staff. This time was in a sense the highlight of my visit as I listened to their testimonies. A young lady from northwest Tennessee, who happened to be sitting next to me on my left, told me that while in the bush a few days before she prayed for a mute child who began to speak for the first time (to the amazement of the mother who never heard a sound come from the child). The Tennessee girl afterwards saw another woman behind a mud hurt – distressed in great consternation and grief. She went to see what was wrong. It turned out this woman was sobbing because her four-year old boy had died of malaria some two hours before. They were wrapping the child in sheets, waiting for an imam to arrive to bury the child. The Tennessee girl began praying for the dead child. The child was stiff from rigor mortis. After several minutes of praying she noticed the child’s fingers, then hands, beginning to move, then the arms. The child was raised from the dead before her eyes. When the Tennessee girl went to the mud hut the next day she saw the little boy running around. Those who witnessed this came to Christ. This is how most of Heidi and Rolland’s converts are saved; they see the miracles and instantly abandon their false teaching. A young man who was a graduate in theology from Durham, England, sitting next to me on my right, told me he prayed for three different blind people who were healed before his eyes. He added that they for some reason have almost a complete success rate with deaf people being healed. He implied that they are always glad to see a deaf person because they know they will be healed.
I felt cheated that I could not go to the bush while there. They refer to the bush and the “bush bush” – which means it is very remote. This is where many miracles take place. I could only be there for three days – or wait until next year (my schedule is completely filled). So I saw no miracles first hand. But there is no doubt in my mind that these young people were not making up these stories: mute people speaking, Muslims coming to Christ, witch doctors coming to Jesus, blind and deaf people being healed. I vowed to go to the bush if I have the opportunity to return.
The Iris Ministries board met while I was there. I was privileged to speak to them for over an hour on my “life verse” (John 5:44). I also gave my testimony and related how I came to believe in the doctrines of sovereign grace. Rolland, who has an earned doctrine in theology (as does Heidi) was particularly gratified by what I said. We are on the same page theologically. I also took questions and did my best to answer them honestly. The discussion somehow led to the subject of open theism – a very dangerous teaching that many prominent Charismatics and Pentecostals are taking on board. While I was there I cautioned everyone as lovingly and firmly as I could. All seemed deeply appreciative that I was there for this time. They want me to return, but I want to go back only if I can go to the bush!
I first met Rolland and Heidi on a Caribbean cruise some ten years ago along with Carol and John Arnott who invited me to do the Bible talks on the ship. Heidi came to all my talks, always sitting on the front row, and I got to know her a bit. She told me of her miraculous healing at Toronto and how being prayed for at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship changed her life. A New York City church that had supported her dropped her for going to Toronto. And yet her ministry never really took off until after Toronto. She and Rolland live completely by faith and are now supported by people from all over the world. If you ask me, this is the best vindication of the “Toronto Blessing” I have come across