Christian Chronicle, March 2005
Church members pray, fast for work in Mozambique
By Erik Tryggestad
On March 15 church members in Africa and the United States participated in a Day of Prayer and Fasting for missionaries in Mozambique who were instructed to leave their homes by government officials in mid-2004.
“We want to make this a special day ... where we all focus on the Makua team and their push for official permission to move back to their home in Montepuez,” said Sam Shewmaker, a missions professor at Harding University, Searcy, Ark., who has served as the team's mentor.
March 15 marked the second anniversary of the Mozambique Mission Team's departure for Portugal, where team members spent nine months in language training before moving to the southern African country.
The group chose the city of Montepuez, in northern Mozambique, as its mission point. No missionaries for churches of Christ work in the area, and the majority of the Makua-Metto people who live in the area practice a mix of traditional religions and Islam, team members said.
The missionaries moved to Montepuez in March 2004, but in June - due to political tensions in the area - the provincial government of Cabo Delgado asked them to leave and wait in a neighboring province until granted approval to return.
Two of the team's families - Kyle and Ginger Holton and Rusty and Ann Caldwell - moved to the Niassa Province to work among the Yao people. The remaining four families have been working in Nampula and Maputo while negotiating with government officials to return to Montepuez.
“We still feel a strong call to work among the Makua-Metto people and desire to return as soon as possible,” team member Alan Howell said, “but we don't want to keep pushing for a return if it looks like it will be a dead end, though all of our interactions lately with the government have been encouraging.”
The Donelson church, Nashville, Tenn., sponsors Howell and his wife, Rachel. Other Makua team members are: Aaron and Mika Roland, sponsored by the Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, church; Jeremy and Martha Smith, sponsored by the Pleasant Valley church, Little Rock, Ark.; and Chad and Amy Westerholm, sponsored by the Cordova Community church, Cordova, Tenn.
“We are very expectant of an answer from the Lord ... that will open the way for the missionaries to return to their homes in Montepuez among the Makua people,” Shewmaker said.