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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Education in Mozambique: faith like mangoes

Education in Mozambique:

faith like mangos

Doing preschool education differently is changing attitudes and lives in Mozambique, thanks to your giving to BMS World Mission.

Joanna holds onto a mango plant in front of her class of preschool children in Mozambique. As the four-year-olds stare at the plant and she speaks, a link is being imprinted in their brains. A is for árvore. A is for tree.

A letter of the alphabet is not the only lesson the children will learn from the mango plant today. Joanna takes them outside and digs a hole in the ground. She places the plant inside and fills the hole in. She tells her class how it will grow into a mango tree and bear fruit, something they will see for themselves over the coming months and years. The mango tree has become a science illustration.

Using visual aids in teaching is unremarkable in the UK, but in some parts of Mozambique it is revolutionary. Children are used to rote-learning, absorbing facts from lectures from their teachers or copying them down from the blackboard, not from seeing real-life examples. It is brand new for the teachers too. Joanna would not have taught this way before she started working for PEPE, a preschool initiative started and supported by BMS.

In this short video, Liz explains her hope that BMS’ emphasis on caring for children and ensuring their safety, will not only impact the teachers and children at school but families in Mozambique too.

A mango tree is a great teaching illustration for preschool children in Mozambique

What BMS is doing through PEPE is giving young children the best possible preparation for school. They certainly need it. Half of all children in Mozambique do not progress beyond primary school, making their futures precarious. The initiative is currently being run by churches in 60 disadvantaged areas across the country, with more starting this year. Over 3,500 children from poor backgrounds are learning basic lessons like colours, numbers and the alphabet in creative, interactive ways, preparing them for a good start in school. They are also introduced to stories about Jesus, so are growing in their knowledge of him, too.

Children in a PEPE class

It is so much more than just teaching. BMS wants these children to feel they are loved and valued in a society which doesn’t always make them think that way.

“Children don’t really have a childhood here,” says BMS mission worker Liz Vilela, who plays a key role, working alongside the national co-ordinator for PEPE in Mozambique. “They grow up ready to do things around the house, to look after their brothers and sisters. They are just waiting to be adults.”

BMS wants to offer Mozambican children the educational opportunities that will help them in adult life, but we also want them to enjoy childhood – as children. Play is not universally valued as a way of learning in Mozambique, but we are trying to change that. At one of the preschools, we have been trialling times of free play twice a week, using toys. Liz has been helping the preschool develop this and they have seen an instant impact on the children. At first, the children were bemused that they could play with whatever they liked.

One boy who decided to do some colouring asked Liz: “What should I draw?”

“Anything you would like to,” Liz replied.

She soon noticed the freedom this gave the boy to be creative, something he was not used to. “It was great to see him really engaging with his drawings and excited to tell me what he was drawing,” she says.

Since the free play experiment began, the co-ordinator at the preschool has noticed that children are fighting less and behaving better. Minds are being opened to the value of play.

One of Liz’s passions is that the children feel protected and safe, again something which is not always the case. Tragically an 18-month child who attended Liz’s church recently drowned in a puddle when his parents weren’t around.

Liz is spearheading a child protection policy for our preschool ministries in Mozambique, ensuring that teachers receive training on topics like nutrition and hygiene so that children will eat more healthily and be less susceptible to illness. In impoverished and under-resourced areas, training like this is far from the norm. Liz recently organised first aid training which prompted some surprising questions. One teacher asked if giving a child a shoe to bite on would be helpful if they were having a seizure, something traditionally taught. The nurse leading the training corrected this misconception and told them what they should do. If they take her advice on board, lives could be saved in future.

Through your giving to BMS, you are enabling preschool education ministries like this to flourish. You are making it possible for more churches to start running PEPEs and transforming the lives of more disadvantaged young children. “With the help and support BMS gives, PEPE is growing in quality, as well as numbers,” says Liz. “Local people running it know that they have someone by their side helping them – they are not trying to do it on their own. BMS support is allowing this work to grow.”

With the help and support BMS gives, PEPE is growing in quality, as well as numbers

BMS is giving first aid training to preschool teachers in Mozambique.
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Like the mango tree, our prayer is that these young people will grow and bear fruit for themselves, their families and the country of Mozambique.