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Mozambique Mission Update - Westerholm

Friends and Family,

The last few months have not gone as most of us had planned, but we praise God for the way he continues to work. I am reminded of how Paul was in prison, but the book of Acts concludes that he was “proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance” (Acts 28:31). Despite his being in chains, the good news was not locked up. In April, schools across the country were closed and church meetings were ordered to not exceed ten people. Our plans were for our Bible school to open in April, continue to teach in church seminars for elder selections, and we had multiple visitors planning to come this summer. Obviously, all of that was changed.

I am thankful though for the past few months because it has allowed me to work almost exclusively on the Bible translation. We have been doing our final checks for the past few months, and have been finding lots of little details to change and improve. Before sending it off for printing there are a number of things that need to be verified, and one of the largest tasks has been verifying the correct spelling of all the words in the New Testament.

The Metto New Testament has about 30,000 different words, and about 8,000 still needed to be verified as having been spelt correctly. So for the past two months I have been working through that list to make sure that we have been consistent in our spellings and that the all the words are in proper form. After getting the list down to about 250 words, I had to hand it over to the trained linguists who are more familiar with particularly obscure verb forms. The process has led to us reworking multiple verses into much more familiar and easier to read forms, and catching a few words that were problematic.

I am reminded of the story of an early English Bible that accidentally left out the word “not” and inadvertently wrote “thou shalt commit adultery”.  It never made it into wide circulation and became known as “the sinner’s Bible”. So it has been worthwhile to be thorough in our checking.

In the next few weeks it will be sent off for some more thorough computer checks and then –sometime in the next few months – it will be sent off for printing. Lord willing, this time next year we will have a container of over 20,000 New Testaments (plus Genesis and Jonah) sitting on our property and ready to distribute.

For the past few months I have had some significant health struggles. In late March I developed a dry cough which lasted almost two months. It was accompanied by a lot of fatigue... I needed about 9 to 10 hours of sleep a night. Two of my friends had some similar symptoms and they got a covid test but it came back negative. I have slowly been recuperating, but I am still not 100%. My energy has mostly returned, and I am sleeping more regularly. I still am dealing with some minor stomach issues and sometimes feeling a bit light-headed. Thankfully no one in my family came down with whatever sickness I have had. Yesterday I was able to get a covid antibody test and it came back negative, so that does not appear to be the cause.

In other news, several hours to the north of us there has been fighting near new oil fields. This has been going on for several years and has not directly impacted our safety nor any of the churches we work with in a serious way, but the fighting has grown more intense recently. Government forces, as well as several other neighboring countries’ military have been involved in recent months. The result of this has been a swelling of refugees into our area.

In one village I regularly work in I just learned that 300 families have fled there, staying with family members or friends. Likewise in our town I have heard that there are thousands of refugees, though they are hard to “see” since they are mostly staying with family members. Estimates are...about 250,000 refugees have spread throughout the area. We are praying about how to respond to this, especially with the extra challenge of this taking place during a pandemic. We will be keeping everyone updated regarding this situation.

I recently heard a heartbreaking story of relatives of a brother...I have worked with for years. [His] extended family lives several hours north of us in the area affected by the fighting. Their village was attacked before sunrise and many people were killed. [His] sister saw her husband killed as well as three other family members. She fled to the bush with some others and a group of 13, including small children and elderly began walking south to safety. After walking for a week, they got to a town where they could catch a ride.... They had to sell clothes in order to get food. [My friend] asked me for help to get them here, and I spoke with them the following day.

I met with three women and one young man who had all lost their spouses to the insurgents. The elderly in their group were unable to come to my house since their feet were swollen from walking so far. I have helped that family and will continue to help, but I wonder how many of the refugees who come to our town have similar stories.

Despite our personal limitations and the limitations placed on the churches in this season, we know that God is not limited and he is at work. We know that we are in his hands and that he is ruler of all. We pray that he will continue to open doors for us to serve even in this season. God bless! ~ Chad

Please pray for:

• God to show us any changes that need to be made in the Bible translation before printing
• Complete healing for me
• Wisdom regarding our Bible school plans for the rest of the year
• The Spirit’s leading as we seek ways to serve the refugees
• Those fleeing the fighting to be open to the gospel

Praise God for:

• The fruitful work that has been done recently on the Bible translation
• The ability to focus on and continue to work on the Bible translation
• My improved health over the past few months
• Due to an emergency grace period on documents, our kids’ teacher, Abby, has been able to stay longer.
• The opportunity for us to serve those who are hurting deeply from the insurgency.
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