Cyclone Idai: Mozambique needs your prayer

Cyclone Idai:

Mozambique needs your prayer

On Thursday 14 March, Cyclone Idai hit the city of Beira, Mozambique. Please join us in prayer for those affected.

Beira suffered high winds, heavy rains and flooding and 90 per cent of the city may have been affected. Hundreds of people have lost their lives. BMS World Mission has made contact with local partners and is in the process of assisting relief responses. Please pray for Mozambique at this time.

The destruction

Debris from the cyclone is piled shoulder-high beside roadways that have been covered by sand blown in by heavy winds. Buildings have lost their roofs, and trees are uprooted.

Flooding from burst riverbanks and heavy rain pose a threat to the safety of survivors. The outbreak of waterborne diseases is a concern, due to the disruption of water supplies, as is the lack of shelter, food and clothing. Cases of cholera and diarrhoea continue to rise.

The aftermath

President Filipe Nyusi announced that search and rescue operations to find survivors from the cyclone had come to an end. As of 30 March 2019 it has been reported that 501 people died as a result of the cyclone.

Devastation is extensive, with around 100,000 houses identified by the authorities as having been destroyed. Efforts are now concentrated on rebuilding infrastructure and helping those affected.

A vector graphic map shows where Beira is located in Mozambique.
Beira was at the centre of the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai.
Debris is piled up on a sandy road.
Debris from Cyclone Idai is piled shoulder-high, and roadways are covered in sand.

The intervention

BMS is assessing the best way to assist in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai. “We are supporting the Baptist Convention of Mozambique (CBM)’s relief response by strengthening capacity support and lending our help to its relief programme,” says Rachel Conway-Doel, BMS Relief Facilitator.

Rachel was able to attend meetings with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) on 30 March 2019. She said of the meetings, “It is encouraging to hear of all the work that is being done — but much more is needed.”

BMS will continue to consult with CBM on how British Christians can best support the Mozambican Church in its response. Thank you for all your generous giving and faithful prayers as we do so.

Updates on personnel

“We were getting messages from a friend saying that her windows had broken. Water was coming into the lounge and kitchen and she was worried. We also got a message from a friend who thought that the roofing on her daughter’s bedroom had come off,” says Liz Vilela in her latest blog post, describing the cyclone.

A tree is uprooted from the ground, breaking the pavement,
Trees were uprooted by strong winds.

We have been in touch with our mission personnel on the ground:

  • Carlos Tique Jone is in Beira assessing damage to buildings. “I praise the Lord that I am alive,” he told BMS.
  • Jane Edwards has flown into Maputo instead of home to Beira.
  • Sergio and Liz Vilela are safe. Sergio has returned to Beira to assist relief efforts.
  • Annet and Damien Ttendo-Miller are currently in Uganda.
  • Mark, Susanna, and Lizzie Barrell are at their home in Maputo.

Please pray especially for our local workers in and around Beira. BMS has been in touch with:

  • Pr Moises, General Secretary
  • Anibel
  • Carlos
  • Fernando and Lidia, Association of Mozambican Christian Lawyers (AMAC)
  • Staff at the AMAC office
A terracotta church building against a blue sky that has lost its roof.
Liz and Sergio Vilela's church is the Igreja Baptista do Aeropuerto in Beira. It lost its roof and suffered damages in the storm.

Pray for Mozambique

  1. Pray for all those in Beira, including BMS World Mission worker Carlos Tique Jone and his family. Pray that those who need help would receive it soon and that God would use his people to bring relief and help even now.
  2. Pray for those who have lost family members and homes. Pray that God would bring them the help they need and that we who have not been affected can find ways to be useful and merciful to them.
  3. Pray for God to strengthen those helping and comfort those traumatised.
  4. Pray for all BMS mission personnel and local workers, that they will be safe and be used by God in the lives of their community at this very difficult time.
  5. Pray for the relief response following this tragedy. Pray that Beira will recover quickly.
  6. Pray for a compassionate, sustainable and God-inspired response from the international community, including our community of churches.

Thank you for your love for Mozambique. Please keep praying for the people of Beira and for our partners there. If you would like to do something more, you can help our Mozambican partners on the ground with relief and recovery work by giving to BMS Disaster Recovery now.

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Annet couldn’t get a visa to enter Britain – please help her

Our mission worker couldn’t get a visa to enter Britain – please help her today

Annet Ttendo Miller should be in the UK right now, telling people about the brilliant work God is doing in Mozambique through BMS World Mission. She’s not here because her visa application was turned down, which is why we need you and your entire church to pray for her.

It was meant to be so special. BMS lawyer Annet would finally meet her father-in-law, and he would get to hold his granddaughter for the first time. All that Annet needed was a visa to enter Britain.

She didn’t want to move here, or stay a long time, she just wanted to come with her British husband – BMS worker Damien – and their daughter, Patience. She wanted to visit in-laws, her friends and colleagues at BMS, and to tell people about God’s work in Mozambique. And then she’d go back home and continue fighting for the oppressed; for women who have been abused, for the vulnerable without a voice.

A man in a multicoloured shirt stands next to a woman in a blouse, holding a baby
Annet and Damien Miller were all set to visit Britain with their daughter, Patience, when they were told Annet’s visa application had been turned down.

But the Millers’ visit hasn’t happened as Annet’s visa application was turned down. A new application will be submitted, so today we’re asking you to pray for Annet, Damien, and Patience, because we believe in a God that listens.

• Pray that God will make a way for the Millers to visit the UK. Pray that Annet and Patience will get to meet Damien’s father, and that churches will hear about the vital legal work being done in Mozambique.

• Pray that Annet and Damien would have a strong sense of God’s presence during this stressful time. Please pray for the Holy Spirit to be with them at work and at home.

• Pray thanks for what God is doing through Annet and Damien at the Association of Mozambican Christian Lawyers (AMAC). Please pray for more people to hear about the association, and that they ask for help.

The time when Annet was pregnant and told to leave Britain

Annet moved from her native Uganda to Mozambique in 2012 to lead the launch of the BMS-supported legal ministry, AMAC. She married Damien in 2015 and they had hoped for Patience to have been born in Britain.

When they arrived in June 2016 for a visit, Annet was pregnant and had a five-year visitor visa to the UK. She was allowed into the country, but only after being detained for hours, and having had her visa cancelled because it was suspected she would misuse NHS funds.

Allowed to stay in UK for just a few weeks, Annet and Damien had to fly to Uganda, seeking the care every expectant mother deserves. Patience Michelle Miller arrived early in Kampala, premature, but healthy, a blessing from God during a difficult time.

A woman with a grey jacket and black top stands in a garden smiling and with her hands crossed
Annet Ttendo Miller is working to help the oppressed in Mozambique. Please join us in praying for her today.

Hear more about the life-transforming work Annet and Damien are involved in

You may have already watched the video above. What we were all anticipating was for more stories about AMAC’s work to be shared by Annet and Damien in the UK.

“It is a huge disappointment for them, and us, that their visit has been postponed,” says BMS Regional Leader Mark Greenwood.
“They are doing priceless work in Mozambique. Our prayer is that you will hear them tell you all about it in the UK, in your church.”

God called Annet and Damien to Mozambique because he has a heart for justice. They stand alongside person after person who is alone and needs support. Now it’s our turn to support them with prayer.

Please share this article with your friends. We want the Millers to feel lifted up in prayer from churches across the world, not just for their visa and family situation, but for God to use their lives for his kingdom.

If you’re praying for the Millers Click here
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Justice in Africa: God’s heart for the poor

Justice in Africa:

God's heart for the poor

Mob justice. Corruption. Exorbitant court fees. These are just some of the problems that people in Mozambique and Uganda face when trying to access justice. But thanks to you, BMS World Mission is doing something about it.

Christian lawyers in Africa are standing up for the poor and marginalised. They’re helping people like Sarah in Uganda, a widow who fell into legal trouble after her husband died. Whether it’s through legal representation, mediation or legal education, BMS-supported lawyers are helping the oppressed find justice.

Watch the video above to find out how your support is helping Christian lawyers in Mozambique and Uganda stand up for those who need it.

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Justice League

Christian Lawyers are speaking up for the poor and oppressed in Mozambique.

In a small church, with an orange sand floor and iron-sheeted walls, the attention of 25 people is focused unwaveringly on a tall woman in her mid-fifties. An experienced Mozambican lawyer, speaking to them in their own language about their rights. One minute everyone is roaring with laughter, the next they’re silent. Lidia commands respect. She’s teaching them about gender based violence. About what Scripture says. What the law says. Giving them biblical keys to unlock answers. Is it okay to beat your partner? No. Is it okay to force a teenager to marry? No. People are answering. Nodding. Understanding. Some of them are visibly moved.

After the session, which lasts all morning, nine people come forward to ask Lidia questions. That’s Saturday, and on Tuesday morning two people arrive at the Christian lawyers’ office in Maputo to get advice about the family issues and domestic violence they’re experiencing. They’ve discovered that help exists.

The BMS-supported legal team in Beira.

This is what the Association of Mozambican Christian Lawyers (AMAC) is all about. Teaching people the law. Speaking up for the poor and needy. Defending the abused and oppressed. Christian lawyers coming together, in one of the least developed countries in the world, to share God’s heart for justice and see the vulnerable realise their rights.

Through your gifts, prayers and support, BMS World Mission has been walking with AMAC every step of the way. The association was born, in part, out of our legal work in Uganda with the Ugandan Christian Lawyers’ Fraternity; and over the last six years, we’ve seen AMAC grow from a dream into an established organisation educating churches, schools and communities on their rights and providing legal aid for some of the country’s most marginalised people. A small number of Christian lawyers – from Mozambique, Uganda and the UK – are demonstrating that the law is good, that much of it comes from the Bible, and that it’s for everyone. They’re gathering members and momentum. And they’re just getting started.

People with no money believe that there is no justice in the world

The challenges facing many Mozambicans are huge and varied, so the BMS-supported justice league has a lot of work to do.

For the poor and vulnerable here, the law is literally a foreign language. It is written in Portuguese and almost 50 per cent of the population, like many in the church Lidia was visiting, don’t speak it fluently. An added problem is that the laws, although good, are relatively new (with Mozambique only obtaining independence in 1975, and then suffering through civil war from 1977 to 1992) so they have not had long to become established.

Widespread poverty and a lack of opportunity mean that countless people are suffering injustices without even knowing there are laws in place to protect them. The justice system is simply inaccessible.

“People with no money believe that there is no justice in the world,” says Gervasio, a BMS-supported lawyer in Beira. Our team is working to show them that’s not true.

Legal education saved Aida* from a loveless, forced marriage. She was 16 when her parents demanded she marry a 40-year-old man or face a severe beating. Her sister, a preschool teacher, attended an AMAC legal education session and had one of her friends ask about child marriage. AMAC explained that it is illegal in Mozambique for anyone under the age of 18 to get married, and it is also illegal to beat a child.

Equipped with this knowledge, a group from the training went with Aida’s sister to her parents’ house and confronted them, explaining what they had learnt about the law. The parents confessed they hadn’t known it was wrong.

Luis Generoso, Executive Director of AMAC.

They were sorry and relented. That was a year ago. Now, Aida is living with her sister and is part of a church. She is free from fear of violence and forced marriage, and is thankful to the Christians who helped her.

Education is helping people trapped in abusive marriages too, by changing the minds of their pastors. In Mozambique, pastors are often called upon to mediate cases between church members, but many believe that when it comes to marriage, reunion is always the answer – even in the case of extreme domestic violence. This is changing. One pastor who was strongly against ever condoning separation when he first met with AMAC, stood up at the end of the legal education in his church and told his congregation: ‘if your partner hits you once, come to me. If it happens again, go to the police and I will support you.’

Lawyer Kathy Russell.

“A lot of change can be made through education,” says Kathy, a lawyer who has just finished four years of service with BMS in Mozambique.

“We’re empowering the Church to take justice seriously and to act.”

Not all injustice is obvious. Working in churches and communities, the BMS-supported legal teams based in Beira and Maputo regularly meet people who are unregistered citizens or who believe they are married when legally they are not. These legal misunderstanding can have big ramifications. By explaining simply how to register a baby (or in many cases an adult) or get married legally, AMAC is helping people learn when they are outside of the law and what to do about it.

On the outskirts of Beira, eight couples recently got married. Through AMAC training, these men and women discovered they weren’t legally husbands and wives. Now they have the protection marriage can bring – the women will no longer lose their homes and security as well as their partners if their husbands die. It’s all very biblical. Disputes over land. Widows and orphans.

All our legal education is focused on empowering the most vulnerable in society. AMAC runs sessions with rural, untrained pastors and with city street boys; with teenagers in schools and with preschool teachers working with disadvantaged children. Our lawyers have even started working with a deaf church, where the congregation struggles to understand or be understood by the community and is very vulnerable to abuse and injustice.

As well as teaching people about their rights, BMS-supported legal workers are advocating for the voiceless. We’re representing imprisoned street children to see that they get a fair trial and don’t remain in custody indefinitely. We’re helping single mothers to receive the child maintenance they’re entitled to. And we’re supporting survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

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We’re empowering the Church to take justice seriously and to act

Tiago* sits on a pew in First Baptist Church in Beira and quietly tells a story. A grown man raped his 12-year-old niece. It took nearly four years to get the culprit convicted. The man got two years for his crime – impersonating a police officer to scare a child into following him to an isolated place, sexually assaulting her and then running away. He is appealing his sentence.

The injustice is brutal. While Tiago’s niece still suffers, her attacker has never been imprisoned and despite being convicted, he will remain free until his appeal is heard and denied. “Here in Mozambique, rape is a crime. Yet the accused person was never arrested,” says Tiago. “It’s very difficult for [my niece] to forget what happened. It’s never left her mind.”

The AMAC team has been walking alongside Tiago’s niece since he brought the case to them. No-one is happy with the outcome, but Tiago has hope that some justice will be done. “Without doubt, AMAC should continue,” he says.

“They assist people without charge. They walk with the client step by step. They gave us good treatment, provided psychological assistance and accompanied us in court.”

Annet, our legal team leader in Mozambique, has been helping to support Tiago’s niece. She has more reason than most to empathise, having herself survived sexual violence as a child – an experience that motivated her to become a lawyer in the first place. “Justice is at the heart of God. It’s a mission from God himself,” she says. “If Mozambican lawyers can understand why it’s important for them as Christians to do justice for the poor, they will transform many lives.”

And Mozambican lawyers are doing just that.

But they need your support. There aren’t many lawyers here, let alone Christian lawyers willing to give up the lucrative career they’ve studied hard for to pursue justice for the vulnerable.

Annet, BMS legal team leader in Mozambique.

And yet those who have captured the vision are holding fast to AMAC’s mandate: “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1: 17).

Your gifts, your prayers and your partnership are vital. “Without BMS support, maybe we can’t survive,” says Luis Generoso, AMAC’s Executive Director and one of its founding members.

And it’s so important that AMAC survives, and thrives.

Antonio, Kathy, Leonardo and Lidia, four members of the AMAC team in Maputo, changing lives through the law.

“If you don’t have justice, you feel like you are not valuable,” says Marie Josee, a BMS-supported lawyer in Maputo. “We exist and manage to do this work because of BMS. I want you to know that the money and the efforts you are giving are not in vain.”

In a small church, with an orange sand floor and iron-sheeted walls, the attention of 25 people is focused unwaveringly on a tall woman in her mid-fifties. She’s telling them about their rights. Telling them that the Bible and the law say that they have value. She’s handing them a set of keys. Giving them a way to unlock some of the doors they’ve been trapped behind.

She’s opening their minds. And the knowledge she is giving them is setting captives free.

 

*Names changed

This article appears in the new issue of Engage, the BMS magazine. Subscribe today by hitting the button on the right to read more about how your gifts are transforming lives around the world.

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Learn to do right; seek justice.

Real people are suffering injustices and abuse every day in Mozambique. We want to stop this, and you really can help us.

Invest in our justice mission in Africa. Commit to regularly praying for and giving to the work you have just read about by becoming a BMS 24:7 Justice Partner. For more information click here or phone 01235 517628.

Meet the inspiring Mozambican Christians you’re supporting

This is BMS:

Meet the inspiring Mozambican Christians you're supporting

The work of BMS World Mission has many different faces. This is what we look like in Beira, Mozambique.

Jeremias, Felizarda and Gervasio are transforming lives. They’re bringing justice to abused women, teaching teenage girls their rights, and working with a deaf community to educate them on laws they’ve never been able to hear.

And they’re doing it because you give to and pray for BMS.

We’d love you to meet the local Christians you’ve been supporting in Beira. Get to know them by watching this video:

Please share this video with your church to introduce them to some of the inspiring people they support when they give to BMS.

Jeremias, Felizarda and Gervasio are so thankful for your support. It’s enabling them to use their skills, training and passion to share God’s heart for justice with some of the most vulnerable people in their city and beyond.

And we are so pleased to be able to support them. They are three of the 194 dedicated local workers we partner with in Mozambique and around the world. Amazing Christians using their gifts for God’s mission in their home countries, supported by you.

Click Here if you’re praying for Jeremias, Felizarda and Gervasio
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Felizarda teaches school children, communities and churches about their rights. You support her work.
Felizarda teaches school children, communities and churches about their rights. You support her work.

“I want to thank all of you who are supporting me with this work with [the Association of Mozambican Christian Lawyers] here,” says Felizarda. “You are blessing us to bless other people.

“So thank you for everything you have done and will do in the future.”

Please pray for Felizarda, Jeremias and Gervasio, asking God to strengthen and equip them as they continue working to bring justice to people in Mozambique. Pray too for the rest of the team at the Association of Mozambican Christian Lawyers, which includes Annet Ttendo Miller, Damien Miller, Jane Edwards and Kathy Russell.

Become a 24:7 Justice Partner

Our God is a God of justice.

You can play an important role in our justice work in Mozambique when you sign up to become a 24:7 Justice Partner. Support Jeremias, Felizarda, Gervasio and the rest of our legal team by committing to regular prayer and giving today.

Click here to partner with our justice ministries.

The BMS team working for justice in Beira, Mozambique.
The BMS team working for justice in Beira, Mozambique.

Justice: I wept when my rapist’s family came for my son

Justice:

I wept when my rapist's family came for my son

What doesn’t kill you can make you stronger and define your life. This is the story of what led Annet Ttendo Miller into becoming one of the key pioneers of BMS’ justice work in Uganda and Mozambique.

Annet Ttendo Miller never thought she would turn 14. Being raped at a young age left her uncertain if she would live or die. Now, working with BMS World Mission in Mozambique, she helps others get the justice she was denied.

“You could have an abortion and go back to school,” my devoutly Catholic mother said. When I was in secondary school, a stranger had raped me. No one knew, until my mother realised I was pregnant. Even today, I’m still surprised she gave me a choice. In my Ugandan culture, our parents tell us what to do. There are no equal levels where you would sit and discuss these things.

I asked for a night to think and decide. If my father found out, I’d be married off and my education would be over. He would not believe that I’d been raped. Then he would throw out my mother, thinking she had arranged the pregnancy to lower my bride price.

I could not sleep that night. I knew it didn’t matter if I kept the baby or not, there was no way I would survive this.

“Let me die honourably,” I told my mother the next morning. If I died while she helped me to have an abortion, she would be blamed and carry a stigma for the rest of her life. But, if I died giving birth, no one would blame her. So, we made a plan.

I knew it didn’t matter if I kept the baby or not, there was no way I would survive this.

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My mother and I confronted the family of my attacker. Of course, he denied responsibility. My mother threatened to take him to court. “You’ve destroyed my daughter’s education,” she said, angry and bitter, “you’ve destroyed her life.” Eventually, they made an agreement and talked out the details in front of me. They decided that I would carry the pregnancy to term and after the child was born and weaned, my attacker’s family would support it and take care of my education.

Then, my mother found a friend in the next village who would hide me. “If God helps us and you live through the birth, then maybe you could go back to school,” she said. I was 13 years old and so small. I never, ever thought I would survive.

My mother packed my things and took me to this village. That’s where I had the baby.

I raised him for a year and a half while I went to school. I woke up early, fed him, changed his nappy, went to school from eight o’clock until noon and then I did the housework and my homework. This was my life until they came for him. But I’d grown so attached to my son. When they took him, I cried my heart out. I pleaded with them to care for him like he was their own.

When he turned four, my son was enrolled at my mother’s primary school, also part of the arrangement. She let him call me “aunt” to protect me. “Bond with him or he will never know his maternal side,” she told me. When he turned 14, I told him the truth, the entire story. I told him that his name is Ebo and regardless of the circumstances, he is my son and I love him. We are friends now and despite everything, I thank God for my son.

Annet raised her son for 18 months before giving him up to her attacker's family

Watch Annet sharing about her experience in a video originally recorded for our Dignity initiative to counter gender based violence.

It was really for vengeance that I studied law.

To me, seeing my attacker get away with rape didn’t feel like justice. I told myself that if I studied, I’d become a lawyer. I actually wanted to be a judge, so I could get retribution against any sex offenders who came before me. I would be able to sentence them, even give harsh punishments, like death.

Another reason I wanted to study law was because I kept asking God to please lift up my head and make me somebody. I’d been shunned by the village for being an unwed mother. Even while I studied, people would tell me, “You can’t go around saying ‘oh this happened to me’. No one can give you a platform to tell your story.” So, I always kept my head down.

My prayers were answered. I did become a lawyer but I realised that God wanted me to use what I’d learned to help people, not punish them.

Today, I am still humbled to know that God heard this prayer.
I’ve only been telling my story for the past three years. Before, I was ashamed of what happened. Now, it feels like a burden has been lifted from my shoulders.

A woman wearing a black cloak with a white shirt smiles for a photo
Annet Ttendo Miller is working to help the oppressed in Mozambique. Please join us in praying for her today.

God lift my head, make me somebody

God told me to work here

I almost didn’t stay with the Ugandan Christian Lawyers Fraternity (UCLF). I’d been given a two-year position with the EU that offered five times the salary, a car, a television and a house. I had a week to decide and I thought I might as well try UCLF.

The office was very small. I kept asking myself, “Is this where I want to work?” On my first day, a lady walked in and I started filling in her form. I asked, “Who referred you here?”

“The Holy Spirit,” she said. After I’d written the words, I realised what they were. “Hold on, tell me the truth, who sent you here?” She looked at me and said, “I was told the person I’m supposed to see is going to leave.” That made me pause. I listened to what she had to say. During the meeting, we talked more and prayed together. “You have studied law,” she said, “but God wants you to understand biblical justice, that’s what he’s teaching you. He wants you to go to different nations.”

The next day, after a colleague met with her they told me, “Annet, she is mad!” And that’s when I realised what God was telling me. I stopped looking for other positions. I’d found his calling for my life and UCLF is where he wanted me to be.

Annet is a Ugandan lawyer and BMS mission worker who began her work with the Ugandan Christian Lawyers’ Fraternity in 2006. In 2012, she moved to Mozambique to lead the launch of a BMS-supported legal ministry there (Association of Christian Mozambican Lawyers). She is helping women with similar experiences to her and others who urgently need to know their rights and someone to enable them to stand up for them.

Annet Ttendo was talking to Vickey Casey