MOZAMBIQUE RESEARCH TRIP REPORT 1993
One of the greatest mission opportunities for the churches of
Christ could be about to open in Mozambique. Such was the thought
on the minds and hearts of a team of ten researchers as they
stepped off the plane in Maputo on July 31, 1991. They were
beginning an eighteen day on-site study.
This research came on the heels of a course of study at
Abilene Christian University which included the history, culture
and recent problems in Mozambique. The team had also been through
sessions on the methods of on-site research. Their emotional and
spiritual preparation went much further in that many of them were
planning to become fulltime missionaries in this suffering nation
The research was an in-depth follow-up of a trip the previous
summer. On July 19th, 1990, Jerry Johnson and Richard Chowning
crossed the border from Mutare, Zimbabwe into Mozambique. They
spent seven days in the country. The preliminary research which
they were able to accomplish indicated that the Makua speaking
people could be a priority target. They traveled to Nampula, the
largest city in the Makua area. Their observations were cursory at
best, however they did determine that a further, more in-depth,
research trip was in order.
The trip in the summer of 1991 is a fulfillment of that need.
This research trip was undertaken to assess the needs and
peculiarities of Mozambique with a particular interest in the Makua
• Can we live in the Makua area?
• Is there the possibility for high church growth in the
Makua speaking area?
• How secure will Mozambique be in 1993?
• What will be the financial needs of missionaries?
• What will be the paramissions needs for the Makua area in
Extensive research in books, periodicals and interviews
preceded the on-site visit. Once on the field, the team
concentrated on interviews and observations. They had
questionnaires to guide the interviews, lists to record logistic
matters, and forms for noting daily observations. Each team member
kept a diary as well.
The Makua of the north of Mozambique were the main concern of
the team. Nampula is the most important city among the Makua,
therefore it became a site at which the team spent the bulk of
their time. A preliminary visit to Maputo, the capital, provided
opportunities for interviews with government officials and leaders
in the various missions working in Mozambique.
The team was carrying letters which identified them with
Abilene Christian University, Manna International, and the Churches
MEMBERS OF THE RESEARCH TEAM
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M
University. Candidate for Master of
Missiology, Abilene Christian University. Greg
has led two campaigns to Swaziland and South
Africa. Completed a summer internship in
Darla spent eight years in Brazil and speaks
Portuguese. She is the daughter of Les and
Patsy Bennett. She completed a summer
internship in Kitale, Kenya, and she is
currently on track toward a degree in Nursing
at Abilene Christian University.
Rod is a native South African. Candidate for
the Masters in Church History. Completed a
summer internship in Sotik, Kenya.
Sue is a native South African. She completed a
summer internship in Sotik, Kenya.
Kelly has been on mission journeys to Africa on
four occasions. She completed summer
internships in Eldoret, Kenya and Shakawe,
Holds a Masters of Missions at Abilene
Christian University. David completed an
internship in Kitale, Kenya.
Jana spent eight years of her life in Kenya. She is the daughter of Gaston and Jan Tarbet, who have served as missionaries in Nigeria, Cameroon, and Kenya.
Tara spent four years of her life in Ethiopia. She is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Wells who worked with the USAID in Ethiopia. Tara has been on a campaign to Nairobi and completed a summer internship in Kitale, Kenya.
Richard and Cyndi were church planting missionaries in Kenya for sixteen years. Fourteen of those years were spent among the Kipsigis. This is Richard's seventh research trip. He has been a Missionary In Residence at ACU since 1988.
Mozambique is twice the size of California (799,380 square
kilometers). The population is sixteen million. Half of the
people are below the age of fifteen.
Mozambique is inhabited primarily by Bantu people who traveled
across Zaire and Zimbabwe seven to ten centuries ago.
The Portuguese first came to Mozambique, as traders, in the
fifteenth century. It was three centuries before they began to
colonize. They did not educate or train Mozambicans to manage the
institutions and infrastructure they built. They were far less
dedicated to assisting the Africans than the French and British had
been in their colonies. Independence came on June 25th, 1975 after
a seven year war. The fleeing colonialists left Mozambique one of
the poorest countries in the world. At independence the literacy
rate was less than 3 percent and the federal coffers contained less
than one million dollars.
The post independence government was led by the Frelimo
faction which had fought for freedom. Samora Machel was the first
president. His Marxist regime began immediately to indoctrinate
the urbanites and rural peasants in the principles of socialism.
Christians in the country, particularly the Roman Catholic church,
were persecuted and their lands were confiscated.
Since independence, an opposition faction, Renamo, has been
waging a counter revolution. This bloody, fifteen year war has
devastated the infrastructure and economy of the country, left more
than 200,000 dead, and two million Mozambicans have fled into
Malawi, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.
In October 1986, President Machel was killed in an airplane
accident and Joaquim Chissano was appointed President. Religious
freedom was reestablished under the new regime. In 1988, all
church property was returned and missionaries were encouraged to
enter the country. Chissano has also worked toward settlement of
the war by meeting many of RENAMO's demands. In August of 1989, he
declared to the 5th Party Congress that Marxist-Leninism was no
longer the guiding doctrine of FRELIMO. He has also freed up the
economy to private enterprise. He has taken the risk of moving all
of the Zimbabwian troops in the country to the Beira Corridor (the
road that runs from Mutare, Zimbabwe, to the Indian Ocean). At
present, joint negotiations are underway in Rome to bring an end to
The population of the capital, Maputo, is now two million. In
1980 it was only 800,000. The town of Maputo is highly compact.
High rise apartments towering as much as twenty-five stories jut
into the air in the central section of the city. Even to the far
reaches of the city four and five floor buildings are common. The
ground floors of the taller structures serve as shops and
businesses. Many of the apartments are two and three bedrooms,
with two toilets and a bath. The glory of the structures has faded
and they are in disrepair. Tile roofs on as much as five percent
of the city are caving in. The paint is faded due to the sun, wind
from the sea and lack of fresh paint. Sidewalks are buckled and
the smell of sewers is common in the residential areas.
Signs of a modest rebound are evident. Products have again
begun to line the shelves of the stores, even though these products
are predominantly imported goods. The number of new vehicles is
increasing. Much of the improvement is due to the government's
cooperation with the International Monetary Fund and the World
Bank, as well as honest attempts to bring a conclusion to the
fifteen year-old civil war. Exchange rates have made foreign
investors and importers more comfortable with stepping up their
activities. Loans and grants by foreign governments are on the
rise. President Chissano has assured the world that his intentions
for peace are honest. The Fifth Party Congress drew up a new
constitution which purged the Marxist doctrine of the old laws and
laid the foundation for a republic.
Though the city has hundreds of high rise apartment complexes
and a large port, the average income is $80 to $100 per year.
Hundreds of refugees arrive in the city every day. According to
UNICEF, Mozambique has the highest infant mortality rate in the
world (297 out of 1000 die before they are five years old).
The primary focus of our research was the Makua speaking
people in northern Mozambique. The Makua speaking people are the
largest ethnic group in the country, numbering more than 4 million.
Nampula and Zambezia provinces are home for most of them.
According to the U.S. State Department, "The north central
provinces of Zambezia and Nampula have traditionally been the most
populous, comprising about 50 percent of the population."
The research team flew to Nampula province. The population of
Nampula Province is 3,035,900, and it has the largest population
density (34.8 people per square kilometer) of any area in the
country with the exception of Maputo, the capital city.
The attraction of this area for the research team is its
relative unchurchedness. More than ninety percent of the entire
Makua speaking people are followers of their traditional African
religion. Patrick Johnstone, in Operation World, calls the Makua "the
largest animistic unreached people in Africa, possibly the world." These people
are in rebel-held territory and have had little exposure to the gospel.
The Makua are the largest ethnolinguistic group in the country who number
between four and five million. They are divided into two primary groups: the Makua
and the Lomwe. The Lomwe are greater in number with a population of near two
million. There are Bible translations in both Makua and Lomwe. The Makua are the
primary people group in Nampula Province. The Lomwe dominate Zambezia. Daipa,
a Mozambican Baptist missionary, says that there are some major differences between
the Makua dialects. All other informants advised that, except for some small
groups near the coast, there are very few differences in the different Makua
The team was not able to learn Makua culture with any depth. Traditional
healing and ancestral worship are prevalent. Makua people tie cloths around a tree
in their village and spread a cloth on the ground upon which they make sacrifices.
There are protective amulets warn primarily on the wrist, but also just above the
biceps. A paper written by researcher Greg Bailey can be made available to those
who want a sketch of the traditional beliefs as gleaned from readings.
Tea and fruits are grown in the Makua area, as well as staple crops of corn,
cassava, cashews, and potatoes. As soon as the war comes to a close this portion
of the country should be able to make a quick economic turn around.
When Jerry Johnson and Richard Chowning flew from the port city of Beira to
Nampula on a Red Cross aid airplane in August of 1990, they saw the city as a
possible site for the location of a team. The researchers in the summer of 1991
decided to use Nampula as the base for their study of the Makua people.
Nampula is the third largest city in Mozambique and the administrative
headquarters of the Makua speaking people. The official population is 300,000,
but local estimates put it at twice that number. At independence in 1975, Nampula
was home for no more than 120,000. Although the countryside around Nampula is
often hit by rebel bands, the city itself is safe due to a strong military
presence. The buildings are better preserved than those in the much larger coastal
city of Beira and on a par with Maputo.
It is estimated by missionaries in Nampula that there are about seven
thousand Catholics and Christians in the city.
The research team took three trips outside of Nampula. A trip to Ribaue
will be discussed in the Security section. The short excursion to an agricultural
project is presented in the Physical Needs section. The first ride out of Nampula
was to a hospital at Anchilo ten miles east of Nampula. The area between Nampula
and Anchilo has many mango and cashew trees standing in sandy soil. Many
rectangular thatched huts line the road. Troops were seen occasionally either
walking or in military vehicles. Papayas, bananas, tomatoes, cabbage, and peanuts
were being sold under trees.
Five miles out of Nampula the team stopped at a Catholic seminary. This
seminary had been built by the Catholic church twenty-five years ago, but Frelimo
confiscated it in 1974 and used it as an indoctrination center for the party. It
was returned to the church last year. The scars of the Marxist regime remain.
Painted across the back wall of the auditorium was the likenesses of Lenin, Marx,
and Engles. Party slogans were painted over the door posts of many rooms. Toilets
and showers were in shambles. This is just one of many institutions which were
seized by Frelimo soon after independence and has now been returned. The only
positive contribution was a modern water tower. Governor Gamito, of Nampula
Province visited the seminary last year and told the church to take the slogans off
the walls. He said such rhetoric did not belong in a church. This is a sign of
the change taking place with the leadership of President Chissano.
Further up the road the team drove through what was supposed to be a minimum
security prison with an agricultural project. What little that was planted was not
Three miles up the road was the town of Anchilo. Cars were not permitted
down the tarmac beyond the town without a military escort. The team parked at the
shops and walked around. The police chief came up to the car. We explained that
we had been with officials in Nampula and we wanted to look around Anchilo. He
welcomed us after stating that we could not go beyond the town. Tomatoes, dried
fish, coconuts, peanuts, and cassava were being sold by venders on one side of the
road. There were stone shops on the other. The people were friendly and were
excited to hear team members speak a few words of Makua.
Members of the team walked down the road toward the hospital then down a path
to talk to a family. The old man answered questions about Islamic and Christian
influences in the area. He said that there were a few mosques and a few
congregations of catholics and some protestant groups. When he was asked where
they were located it became obvious that the churches were very few and quite
distant from each other.
The hospital had 125 beds. It has a reputation for better diagnosis and
treatment than the hospitals in Nampula, but they do no surgery.
On the way back to Nampula the team visited a farm run by a Portuguese man.
He has the only dairy herd for miles. There are sixty-three cows producing 100
liters each morning for sale in Nampula. This is basically the only source for
fresh milk in the city. Five hundred head of beef cattle and four hundred pigs are
also kept on the farm.
Christians have learned from their Lord to be concerned about the material
problems people experience as they live on earth. Material aid should, however,
be understood as temporal in nature and the priority and ultimate aid is the
salvation of their souls.
The people of Mozambique have been severely tormented as a result of the
protracted civil war. The United Nations 1990 Africa Recovery Briefing Paper,
ranks Mozambique as possessing the world's lowest Gross Domestic Product, the
lowest growth of Gross Domestic Product between 1980 and 1988, greatest
percentage of debt compared to Gross National Product, the highest infant mortality
rate, and the lowest caloric intake in the world. Add to this hundreds of
thousands children separated from their parents, two million refugees, and a
devastated infrastructure. The physical needs of the country are extreme. Any
material or developmental aid would be best associated with a church planting team
of missionaries. This ideal is both possible and probable, in the Lord.
First hand information concerning the physical needs came from three
interviews. The first was on August 1, with Dr. Julio Schlotthauer, Mission
Director, USAID, Maputo. He informed the researchers that the central portion
of the country was sparsely populated. The USAID was coordinating government aid
in the south and Canadian Aid was handling the north. Scholtthauer said that
eighty percent of Mozambique's imports and seventy percent of the government's
budget was subsidized by donors. Market conditions are depressed and the country
seems to be in a coping mode. Donors were supplying one-third of the grains
consumed in the country. One-third of that came from the U.S. Ten percent of the
nation's food needs (20% in cities) is from the United States.
According to Schlotthauer, Chissano's government is now moving to the middle
of the road politically. This along with compliance to World Bank and IMF
guidelines has opened the country to more technical and supervised aid. He thought
that the money would be forthcoming from these banks to finance the most pressing
needs of primary health care, agriculture (livestock, pigs and chickens), bridges,
and water supply.
The USAID Director suggested that missionaries desiring to be involved in
development work tie in with an existing non-governmental organization. He
mentioned World Vision as the agency through which USAID contracted much of their
Dave Smith, Director of Development for Cooperation Canada Mozambique
(COCAMO), was the most informative expatriate aid worker in Nampula. He
estimates that eighty to ninety percent of the aid goes to the cities (40 km
radius). Some organizations are just beginning to help in the outlying areas.
Dave believes that the primary needs in Nampula Province are education, housing,
health clinics and eggs.
Dave gave the researchers a connection which resulted in a trip twenty
kilometers out of town to an experimental, agricultural project. The project
covered more than forty acres, primarily of rice and beans. Small patches of a
variety of vegetables were also growing. The black soil seemed to be extremely
fertile. Water was no more than two or three feet below the surface. A hand pump
bore hole was used to irrigate most of the project. The members of the village
brought rice they had harvested to a collection point. The researcher were told
that not many cash crops, such as rice, had been planted during the war. This
project was not only an attempt at growing the produce, but more importantly, it
was to become a model for marketing this produce.
The public Mozambican government official who endeared himself most to the
researchers was Alberto Viegas, Director of the Provincial Commission for the
Emergency in Nampula. Mr. Viegas is an extremely compassionate former elementary
school teacher. Governor Gamito asked him to head up the Commission of the
Emergency fourteen years ago. He is angry that the clinics, health care units, and
schools in the rural areas are being systematically destroyed. Mr. Viegas does not
believe that handouts are the answer to Mozambique's greatest problems.
Mozambicans, especially his Makua people, need peace and education more than
anything else. Mr. Viegas escorted the researchers on a flight to Ribaue which is
discussed in the Security section of this report.
Christianity is not new to Mozambique. The Portuguese, maritime traders
brought Dominican missionaries to Mozambique as early as 1506. Even with the
close association with the Portuguese, Catholics did not always find favor with the
colonial government. In 1941, the White Fathers criticized some of their
hierarchy for identifying too closely with the colonial government. As a result
the White Fathers were forced to leave the country. The Catholic priests have
remained predominantly expatriates. This is a sore spot in the church in post-independence Mozambique.
Protestant churches date to the 1880s. The first to come were the American
Board and Methodists in the south and the Scottish Presbyterians in the north.
The Scottish Presbyterians came in response to a call from David Livingstone.
They planted churches in the Alta Maloque region. The history of these people is
discussed more fully under the Igreja de Cristo section, below.
After Independence churches were hampered by the government of Samora
Machel. On June 4, 1975, Machel declared, "religion divides people." Later his
administration confiscated all church property and denied Christians any positions
in the party or local government. It was not until 1989 that churches had their
property returned by Chissano and only in recent months have they taken possession
of them. Missionaries have still not returned to Mozambique in great numbers.
Presently there are only two Protestant missionary families working north of the
Zambezi River. Stuart Foster and his family are working for the I.U.B.
(International Union of Baptists), but they are of the African Evangelical
Fellowship of Boone, North Carolina. The Fosters have only been in this area
since 1987. Stuart is able to travel into the rural areas as far as he can travel
and return by night fall. He has found the Makua speaking people extremely
receptive to the gospel. There is also a Brazilian couple working in Nampula.
These are the only two Protestant, expatriate families doing church planting or
leadership training among the Makua speaking people.
As stated on the first page of this report, some mission organizations view
the Makua as one of the largest, relatively unchurched ethnic groups in Africa.
Less than seven percent of these four million people are followers of the Christian
religion. During the course of the research the team became aware of other ethnic
groups which are very unchurched. Nyassa and Cabo Delgado Provinces have very few
Christians. The Yao people of Nyassa are almost entirely Muslim. There are
smaller ethnic groups along the coast who are 100% Muslim. Stuart Foster and
national evangelists reported that conversions are taking place among the Muslim
Three areas look promising enough to demand further investigation. The
500,000 Makonde people are in the extreme north. For years they have been
resistant to change from outside influences. They were some of the first recruits
for FRELIMO's fight for independence. There are no substantial numbers of
followers of the Christian religion among them.
The Angoshe area near the coast was suggested by Stuart Foster to be a good
location for a new team. Such a team could work among Makua and/or Koti people.
The area to the north of Quelimane is not heavily evangelized, yet it is
heavily populated with Makua people. The war seems to have calmed in that region.
Further research trips might be scheduled for these areas.
Status of the Churches
The war and the resulting security problems have produced an environment
which makes for difficult research into the number of congregations and members in
the various religious groups. Further, the poverty of Mozambique has caused
divisions and changes of allegiance when there is a hope of identification with or
support from an outside source.
The following information is based upon on-site interviews with religious
leaders as well as stateside, headquarters reports.
According to Ethnologue, Mozambique is 61% followers of African Traditional
Religion, 13% Muslims, and 21% Christians (4.5% evangelical according to
Operation World. This makes it one of the most unchurched countries on the
Igreja de Cristo (Church of Christ)
In Mozambique there are at least three groups who call themselves Igreja de
Cristo (Church of Christ). This fact added an unsuspected distraction to the
research trip. Instead of handling each of these groups in a separate section, it
is informative to trace their history as they relate to each other.
The history of these movements begins when David Livingstone challenged the
Scottish Presbyterians to come to northern Mozambique. They responded to
Livingstone's plea by initiating their work in 1880. They moved the mission
headquarters to Mia Carne in 1913. Soon after that they ran afoul with the
colonial government and were forced to leave in 1920. They handed the work over
to the South African General Mission. The SAGM found great receptivity among
these Makua speaking peoples. The mission station was moved to Neulla in the
1940s. So great was the response that the Catholic church and the Portuguese
colonial government tried their best to discourage them. They were under scrutiny
constantly. In 1959, an evangelist began to perform healings, attracting many to
the movement. In his zealousness, he killed a child so that he could raise him
from the dead. The child did not come back to life and the government had the
excuse they needed to close down the mission. Every door and window on the mission
was nailed shut. Missionaries slept in their cars for six months until their work
permits expired. For several months the church went through struggles for lack of
well defined leadership. One of the leaders traveled to Maputo and asked the Union
Baptist missionaries to come and assist them. The missionaries were not met with
a unanimous acceptance upon their arrival at Neulla. A faction of the group said
"we have never been Baptists and we will not be now." They called themselves the
Igreja de Cristo. After developing their own constitution in recent years they are
officially registered as the Evangelical Church of Christ, although they are still
commonly known as the Church of Christ.
In 1967, a member of the Church of Christ, D.B. Feliciano traveled from
Alto Moloque to Malawi. There he met some Brazilian missionaries of the Church
of Christ. He was impressed by the teachings of the Brazilians and remained in
training with them for two years. When he returned to Mozambique he began to tell
the members of the Church of Christ that it was wrong for them to have a
contribution, allow women to speak, and to use an instrument in worship. His home
congregation told him to leave.
From that point Feliciano began a new division of the Church of Christ. He
started a short lived, training school. The two prominent leaders in this division
both graduated from Feliciano's school. This group still sees themselves as being
connected with the Church of Christ in Malawi.
There is a group in the Sofala region in the south of Mozambique who call
themselves the Church of Christ Sofala and Manica. This movement was formerly
Swedish Presbyterian. They adopted their present name in accordance with an
attempt by the government in the late seventies to get all Protestant groups to call
themselves Church of Christ.
Union Baptist (A.E.F.)
The largest Protestant group in the north of Mozambique is the Union
Baptists. The missionaries in this movement are with the African Evangelical
Fellowship (A.E.F.) of Boone, North Carolina. This is the group which traces
its heritage most directly to the beginning of Protestant missions in the north.
They are, with name changes only, the same group that was initiated in 1880 by the
Scottish Presbyterians who were called by David Livingstone. At present the Union
Baptists have 150,000 members north of the Zambezi River. Most of the members
are Makua speakers and live near the origin of the movement in Alto Maloque. They
also have churches along most of the railways and roads in Zambezia and Nampula
Provinces. Stewart Foster and his family, who live in Nampula, are the only North
American Protestant missionaries north of the Zambezia River. They have been
working with the Union Baptist churches in that area since 1987.