Thanks be to God, the work has begun in what we affectionately now call “Chopi-Land” (Show-pea land). It’s much like Disneyland, only way more fun. 😉
The term Chopi-land emerged out of an extremely simple desire to keep track of where Matt was headed each day. And since names of places here are a little complicated to translate back to you all there in the States, Chopi-land it is.
Who are the Chopi? Well for those of you catching up on this amazing rollercoaster adventure with us, they are our assigned unreached, unengaged people group here in Mozambique. Let me start by unpacking that for a minute so we’re all on the same page. The Chopi are a local people group of over a million strong that are, thus far, only found in Mozambique. They are a branch of a southern Mozambique native mother language and therefore we often classify people (just to merely keep track of the vastly different people groups in the world) by the language they speak. That being said, if you step foot in southern Mozambique and ask where the Chopi life you will be looked at like you have 3 heads. You know… just throwing that out there out of a mere hypothetical situation and not cause some overly-excited missionary lady might have said that once in a conversation here in M. Ha! But, all that to be said, the Chopi are here and cover a happily HUGE 4-5 hour span of land here in southern Mozambique.
Ok, so let’s move onto the unreached, unengaged part. That part is decently simple to explain. Unreached means there is not a significantly impactful evangelical presence in the Chopi community. Unengaged means there is not anything currently really being done to reach the Chopi with the Gospel.
… Until now…. 😉 Just kidding. We don’t have that kind of influence. Ha! But God totally does!
So let me give you a happy praise report for those of you whom have yet to hear:
God blessed our first steps into the community with an open government-affiliated leader who showed us an area far off the “beaten path” that had been asking for a church presence. Yeah, you read that right, the Chopi were already asking for a church presence when we got there. That’s the hand of God for you right there.
With some compliance paperwork completed to protect the people there and make sure we were working within government regulations for religious groups, Matt was given a contact of a man there who could help translate (since we have yet to learn the Chopi dialect) and Matt was able to meet with the local leader “Father” of the particular area. There Matt began making visits as we prayed for people of peace to help us bridge into the community. Due to the nature of the work, Matt was our wonderful primary leg into the community and the girls and I remained behind to pray. Matt took M’s Baptist church pastor with him since the local congregation here in M had and continue to want to share in the work there in Chopi-land.
The girls and I got the chance to come to a community-wide meeting in which we introduced ourselves, explained our beliefs and answered the many theological questions before the community all voted and agreed to the evangelistic work that lay ahead.
From visits, Matt was able to launch a weekly bible study where he started walking through Creation to the Ressurection of Christ during two visits per week. Matt intentionally chose not to offer a time of response as he etched through the full Gospel in order to make sure the whole thing was fully understood. Over the process of 10 weeks, Matt and many times the M pastor or other brothers in the Lord here in M traveled down to Chopi-land.
Then we were able to have a team of two gentlemen from the States come share some time with us here in Chopi-land as their church prays over possibly adopting the Chopi through persistent prayer. God gave us the opportunity to spend a Saturday together there in Chopi-land investing in the community, playing games with the kids, sharing testimonies the adults, eating together and then watching the Jesus Film together all huddled together under the African stars. The film was presented in the Mother language, not Chopi, but a language that is more fully understood by all ages that were present.
The following week, when Matt returned to the regular teaching time, he brought along the Pastor from M2 Baptist church an hour north of M as well as the return of our team leader from the capital. And that day after M2 Pastor shared his testimony of turning from his own cultural ways to receive Christ as his Savior and Christ’s radical change of his heart, the entire group under the power of the Holy Spirit cried out to receive Christ. The group was divided into three sections and each person was counseled and walked through receiving Christ. There were tears of repentance, talk of casting off old cultural ways and desperate cries for guideance on how to now live in close relationship with our Father. Twenty-three people fell on their faces before the Lord and sincere Holy-Spirit inspired brokenness over sin resulted in a new family of Christ there in Chopi-land.
When Matt returned for the following study, two more came and received the Lord as their Savior.
We’re not a numbers kind of couple. We find it an honor to be here, even if just one more would come to know Him, it is worth having left it all in the States and having spent a year pulling our hair out learning Portuguese so we could speak through a translator to share the Gospel with even one Chopi (or seriously anyone down here, but the focus of this post today is the Chopi). But we are beyond floored, BEYOND FLOORED, that God would allow us to be a part of twenty-five new brothers and sisters in the faith. We don’t deserve such an honor.
I just got back today from a day out in Chopi-land with the girls. We shared in the lessons a bit today as we walked through the Creation story again as we’re now starting to have them learn the stories in an effort to share them with others. And I just have to say, that group out there is an absolute blast! They are just so ridiculously joyful. They absolutely ate up the Creation story, laughing and giving their all to try so hard to remember each day of Creation. Oh how they laughed and cheered each other on as Matt called on volunteers from the group to retell each day. How they eagerly listened and asked questions.
In the video above, a national is recounting the story from last week that Matt taught the group.
It helps many times to write cues in the sand to keep things straight in recalling stories.
Here is Matt involving the girls by using them as props for the telling of the first seven days of creation. They were great sports and it really helped everyone to visualize the days as distinctive and separate. Plus it was just fun for all involved. What I did not catch on video was when those from the group came up individually and touched each volunteer’s head as they physically walked through the days of creation. The girls were such willing volunteers, even though they ended up “standing” up there for a good 35 minute lesson when it was all said and done. On the way home, they each reported that their favorite part of the time down in Chopi-land was getting to participate in the storying. We plan on sending Matt with creation numbers and a few simple drawings to aid in the review of the seven days of creation next week. =) Here you get a feel for how the community storying time is very interactive as meaning is clarified and all questions are welcomed. It’s a blessing to see how willing the Chopi are to learn the stories and how much they want to learn them well to share with others.
(This video clip has nothing to do with the Chopi but has everything to do with the realities of serving as a family. Here as people slowly trickle in before the study began, the girls were enjoying singing and frolicking about, to the enjoyment of those there. With each new participant, the girls would stop and greet them. =) I’m thankful for the opportunities to serve as a family… even when a piece of tree bark is unwelcome in a watering eye. 😉 )
*Please pray for the Chopi, that the Lord would grow their hearts in their hunger for Him.
*Pray for Him to continue to bless their committing to memory these stories as they begin to walk through retelling Creation through Christ’s Return for themselves.
*And please pray as they wade through the fight against flesh and culture, as they cast off old lifestyles and learn to have the mind of Christ.
*And by all means fall on your knees with us and thank the Lord, thank Him so for all that He is already doing in the lives of these 25 new believers who are HUNGRY for His words. The Life on their faces is quite a thing to behold!
Oh praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead!