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 in 1993.




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 speaking people.


• 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 1993?


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 of Christ.




Greg Bailey


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 Shakawe, Botswana.


Darla Bennett


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 Calder


Rod is a native South African. Candidate for the Masters in Church History. Completed a summer internship in Sotik, Kenya.


Sue Calder


Sue is a native South African. She completed a summer internship in Sotik, Kenya.


Kelly Jeffrey


Kelly has been on mission journeys to Africa on four occasions. She completed summer internships in Eldoret, Kenya and Shakawe, Botswana.


David Jenkins


Holds a Masters of Missions at Abilene Christian University. David completed an internship in Kitale, Kenya.


Jana Jenkins


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 Wells


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 Chowning

Cynthia Chowning


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 war.




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 dialects.


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.


Anchilo Trip


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 doing well.


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 development work.


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.


Unchurched Areas


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 population.


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 continent.


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.