As a native Portuguese speaker from Brazil, I had the preconceived idea that without a language barrier, I would easily make friends and build relationships in Mozambique. But I was disappointed when no one would invite me through their gate and into their yard. I felt that our neighbors did not trust me. Don’t get me wrong, Mozambicans are very friendly people. Everyone smiles and greets me enthusiastically when I am on the street, especially when I walk close to the street market. But I was not getting to know anyone beyond a casual greeting. I wanted to sit down in a chair and have a conversation.
I tried many ways to be a good neighbor and earn their favor. I wanted desperately to make a friend and share Jesus. A breakthrough came one day when I went to my neighbor Luna’s house carrying a simple cake for her to enjoy. When she opened her gate and saw my gift, she invited me through the gate and into her life. She had me sit on a chair in the shade of her front porch and introduced me to her four children. We talked for over an hour. As I left, Luna said I could revisit her anytime.
Over the course of a couple months, I visited Luna several times. Once, I brought her a free religious book. A few other times, I tutored her children with their homework. As our friendship grew, she even welcomed my prayers for her, her husband and her family. She once even had the courage to visit me in my house.
One day when I got to Luna’s house, she was busy making yuca flour in her backyard from plants she grows in her garden. Yuca is a root with white flesh similar to a sweet potato. Luna used a tool to scrape the yuca into tiny particles (flour) and was drying it on a metal sheet over a small fire. She carefully moved her precious yuca flour from side to side to keep it from burning as we talked. Luna told me that she enjoyed the book Hope for the Family that I had given her. She confessed that she attended a church where ladies wore white hats but that she did not know much about the Bible. This was the opening I had been prayerfully waiting for, and I asked if she would like me to study the Bible with her. She said yes!
We began meeting twice a week for Bible studies. I gave her a Bible so her ten-year-old daughter could look up the scriptures for her because it soon became apparent that Luna did not know how to read. Her daughter loved filling out the Bible lessons during our studies, which took place as we sat around a small table in the backyard. The younger children played in the sand around our feet while ducks and chickens ran, squawking after little insects flying in over the fence. What a distraction it all was! We had to pause our lesson from time to time as visitors walked in from the street, the children fought, or Luna stirred the food she was cooking over the open fire. The enemy of souls was doing his best to disrupt our Bible studies. The Holy Spirit helped me learn to stop the lesson and silently pray until Luna could continue.
These joyous Bible studies continued unabated for several weeks. Then one Sabbath afternoon, when I arrived at Luna’s house, I learned that she was not home for our lesson but working in her machamba (vegetable garden), five kilometers outside the city. I assumed she had either forgotten about our study or had no food in the house. But when she was not home for our Tuesday afternoon study either, I perceived that she had gotten discouraged. I discovered that she was being pressured to stop the Bible studies.
David and I urgently prayed for Luna to make the right decision; she had been learning many new Bible truths. Before we began our lessons, she confessed that she did not know that Jesus loves her, forgives sin, or will soon be coming in the clouds of heaven. But by skipping lessons, she was signaling that she was uncomfortable and did not want to continue, so I stopped going to her house.
Four weeks passed with no communication from Luna. With an aching heart, I continued to pray for her. Then her ten-year-old daughter knocked on my door and handed me a handwritten letter thanking me for the Bible and food David and I had given them. I was so happy to see the daughter and told her how glad I was to see her again. I sent a message back with the girl telling her mother that I hoped she was well, that I was still praying for the family, and that I was not angry but still wanted to be her friend even if she did not want to study anymore. A week later, I received a message that Luna had come to my house while I was gone and wanted to see me. Right away, I went to visit Luna, and she invited me back into her house again. She said she missed our Bible lessons together and wanted to restart them.
We studied for a couple of weeks before Luna again began skipping her Bible lessons. This on-again-off-again scenario has repeated itself several times in the past six months. She is really struggling. On the other hand, her ten-year-old daughter pleaded with her mother for permission to accompany us to Sabbath school and church, where she greatly enjoyed the children’s songs and Bible stories. However, Luna rarely allows her to accompany us anymore.
It is often through much intercessory prayer that the Holy Spirit softens a heart and resolves any issues separating a soul from Christ. Please pray for Luna.