Carol Finlay, World Mission Council, Church of Scotland writes about journeying with the Evangelical Church of Christ in Mozambique. (IECM)
The road to Linchinga was lined with mud brick and thatched houses, and the red dust from the road covered everything inside and outside our vehicle! It was a long road and took us several hours to reach there but the welcome we received from the members of the congregation was as warm as the sun shining outside the church. This was the case as we travelled throughout the northern part of Mozambique. We are visiting our partner church with another partner church, the CCAP Synod of Blantyre. Following in the footsteps of those early missionary’s of the Church of Scotland in what is now the south of Malawi, we journeyed from Blantyre to Mozambique. Over 100 years ago, the Scottish Mission took the gospel eastwards and the IECM was founded.
The church has had a rocky history, disturbed by land feuds, wars and unnatural boundaries drawn through tribal groups. It finds itself today in a country that is geographically vast and economically growing but where resources are not evenly spread. The IECM, Synod of Nampula is situated in the north, east of Lake Malawi, in an area of outstanding beauty, with amazing rocky ridges and mountains but with little in the way of Tarmac roads, schools, health clinics etc. The church struggles with travel between its congregations. It also juggles languages, Portuguese, English Chichewa and Lombwe.
The church also struggles with capacity in its organisational structure, with training for its clergy and even the ability to pay them wages. There are only 5 full time paid ministers, several others have to take on other employment and work part time as unpaid ministers. The church needs to work with its members to move from a culture of expecting always to be given what they need to a sense of ownership and therefore developing a means of supporting the church structures.
Our journey took us to the graves of some of the early missionaries, remembered and beautifully tended by the church today; but more importantly it allowed us to meet the ‘Living Stones’ of the IECM today, it reminded us we are in a three way partnership and has encouraged us all on our journey of faith together. We look forward in the next three years to developing a tripartite relationship, to help our sisters and brothers to build capacity and to share and learn from each other as we attentively accompany each other on the journey.