Spiritual responsiveness is one result of the suffering and deprivation endured. Congregations of indigenous Christians mushroomed all across the country. Evangelicals were 3.5% of the population in 1975 and grew to 12% by 2005. Natural disasters in 2000/01 and 2006/07 stimulated much Christian assistance, and churches were planted in refugee camps. Isolation, due to past anti-Christian governments and poverty, means that much of Mozambican church practice is genuinely indigenous. But massive growth also presents proportionally huge challenges: ignorance of biblical teaching and standards, syncretism and legalism. Fortunately, the church is also characterized by an eagerness to learn. Pray for growth in maturity and truth that matches growth in numbers – without forsaking cultural authenticity.
Training church leadership is an urgent priority, probably the most strategic spiritual issue in the country. As many as 80% of pastors/church leaders have little or no formal training, with a large number, possibly even the majority, functionally illiterate. Funds and facilities for formal theological education are lacking. Pray that the effective formation of biblically literate, godly leaders would match the ever-increasing needs of the church. Pray for:
a) Literacy and orality. Degree programmes and biblical resources are worthless if they cannot be utilized. Pray for literacy projects to have a great impact across the nation in order to unlock the resources in print. Pray also for the development of projects that build biblical knowledge among oral learners, who constitute the majority of the population.
b) Seminaries and Bible colleges are increasing in number. Evangelical institutions number 20 and counting. In addition to several interdenominational groups (AIM, OMS), the Baptists, Reformed Church, Nazarenes and Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada also operate schools. Most of these are concentrated in the south; pray for more opportunities in the neglected north. PROFORTE is an umbrella network of theological institutions in the north, founded in 2004, and it now has five member colleges.
c) Non-formal training – shorter discipleship-oriented training with OM, YWAM, World Outreach, Afrika Wa Yesu and others – has proven effective. Bible Training Centre for Pastors has 350 students in its two-year course in Mozambique.
d) Theological Education by Extension is absolutely crucial when travel is difficult, money tight and existing schools already stretched. TEE, mobile training and correspondence courses are spreading throughout the country (PAoC, AIM, SIM, Baptist, Nazarenes, Emmaus Bible School of the Brethren). Radio is a natural medium for this concept and TWR is building on its already substantial work in this area.