God in a Lomue house

We walk down the hill over the bare granite rocks to visit an Elder of the congregation of the IRM (Igreja Reformada em Mozambique) in Ile Mozambique. The people received the gospel for the first time less than 100 years ago. The Lomue people are very traditional and as I start to understand something of the culture, I am amazed at the joy, humanity and respect in their relationships. It is something to experience, although you have to be able to lay down your own thinking and cultural setting. The congregation is still very young and the people are in the church for different reasons witch I will not call Biblical reasons. Then you get people like this man whowas sent twice in dreams to become a Christian. In the first dream he met a person whosuffered and died and then rose from the dead and invited him to come to him.
He hadthe dreams in the colonial times when the Catholic Church was the only Christian church and unfortunately was closely linked to the government. They did not train people and had a lot of strange ideas. They even persecuted the then new Protestant church by burning churches and killingleaders. In this setting the second dream then sent him to the protestant mission.
I think that he believes that the forefathers sent him. So first we talked about a God whogives you choices, and that he may choose for himself.  He is now a leader in the church, but he does not manage to pray. If he tries to pray, he starts crying. I explained to him the basics of prayer and that going to church with a well dressed pastor and other members and using different words than the normal conversations gave us a wrong idea of what communication with God is. The other lie is that the Lomue people see themselves as not worthy and made in a class very far from God. They believe that you need special ways to get your words to God and mostly they believe that it is not possible to talk to God.
Firstly I told him the story of the ants. How someone wanted to help the ants in their struggle to carry their food to the nest. Each time he wants to help them with his finger the ants attack him or flee. So he discovered that the only way to help ants is to become an ant himself. Then I went and sat on the ground before them to illustrate this. I asked him if God knows his house. He said yes, then I told him how the curtain of the templewas torn when Jesus died, the curtain to the holiest of holies and the people. He could interpret the significance. As I sit here before him, so God is here and incarnated as a Lomue whospeaks Lomue. He knows all the struggles and shareshis house with him, like me sitting here before him. I asked him if he can talk to me. Yes he can and then I told him that Jesus likes more to hear him speaking normal Lomue. If he speaks normal Lomue, he can express himself better and therefore it is better for God also. The same way he talks to his wife and children he can talk to Him. Further that crying is one of the best prayers, because you show Him your heart. The traditions that tell him that he is far from God is a lie. The idea that prayer is a church thing and a formal thing is a lie. We do not have to impress Him with clothes or any other thing. I also had to tell Him how God does not push him away when he doesthings wrongly or make mistakes. We treated Him as enemy, but the day that we talk to Him, He accepted us, because the price for the bad relationship was already paid!

To go and sit down before the man also touched me, because it became clearer for me, how God incarnated in our lives in so many different settings. This attitude and identity of God of having compassion and then incarnate it in our lives to help, is the same Identity or new life that God gives us. Now we start to incarnate in the lives of others in other cultures. Not thinking of our position, but serving. Phil 2:6.

In the second house the deacon and his wife told us that they do not have a very good relationship. We listened to some wonderful ideas of him in his business to serve others. Then we identified the problems of his family as the most important matter to start with. His marriage relationship is the foundation for his business and his position as a leader in the church. If that foundation is not strong the rest will also suffer. I took the agreement between God and man as the basis for our relationships because Paul did the same. We first tried to understand Gods agreement with us. Firstly it starts because God is good and He cares. His identity is becoming ours through Jesus and therefore we learn first to care. To have the heart of God for my husband or wife is the first vision that we can strive for. We should have our partner’s growth as our aim. After that we took the fruit of the Spirit of Gal 5:22 as part as our vision. We took for example peace and that it means to accept all weaknesses of the other, to have gratitude towards God for the other. To have patience is important and tomake your agreement with God more important than the hurt you receive from your partner. Especially Kindness was very important in a culture where power en control is so important. Self control is also very important in what you want, also for the sexual relationship towards your partner or when you are outside in the community. It is very useful to start from God and His covenant with us and then identify it as God’s Identity. From here you understand that God is recreating His identity towards us and now we are living that identity towards, firstly, our spouses and then towards church, friends and at the end enemies, reflecting God’s Identity like a mirror. In our conversation it is good to take for example kindness, understanding howwe can be kind and then see how a kind person treatsa situation differently.
I picked up some challenges for the pastor and his wife and working with the deacon I could see that he translated everything with enthusiasm. I believe that he took the challenge and vision also for his own family.
In the previous congregation we talked a lot about service and the pastor started the next morning to sweep around the house, something he hadnot done before. Further he helped in making food. How much do we value these things in money?
I think you can understand why I enjoy this work and also why it is so important to visit people in their homes. It does not mean that the sacrifices do not sometimes make me struggle. This thing about TIME is for example sometimes terrible. You are in a hurry to be back before dark and the pastor is also in a hurry, but apparently in a very different way!


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