Since COVID-19 made its sudden appearance here in Mozambique in March, our mission has changed drastically. The government closed all churches and has forbidden people to gather in groups. All schools, many workplaces and unnecessary stores are closed. We are instructed to stay home. When going out, everyone is required to practice social distancing and wear face masks. Fear of the virus has permeated every activity. We have not physically seen or talked with fellow church members except one, a close neighbor, since the lockdown began. Our only contact has been by mobile phone. Three months have elapsed, and the situation remains the same. The government has not announced any plans to reopen.
Two sounds summarize our experience so far: SNIP, SNIP, SNIP, and CLIP, CLIP, CLIP! We have had to endure a devastating pruning of our outreach activities and our friendship contacts. Will God’s work here fail? We pray it will not. The words of Jesus in the Gospel of John give us a lot of encouragement: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it (to prune), that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:1-2 KJV).
In our front yard, planted along a white wall, are rosebushes with large, colorful blooms. Since the day we moved into this house, those rosebushes have not stopped blooming. Three weeks ago, the rosebush closest to our door didn’t have any more flowers, but had ugly rosehips instead. Edie took clippers to the rosebush and cut it back a lot. Today, we were astonished to find 24 beautiful pink roses full of aroma on that rosebush, so soon after being pruned.