Would you please seek our Father’s heart with us?
As you know, our vision is to live and work in a remote area where people live with the combination of no/little access to the Kingdom and no/little access to health care. We also desire to travel two weeks monthly, using the planes of MAF to reach especially the unreached and the poorest people groups of Angola. There is great opportunity for both in this country, which is inhabited by mostly remote/rural people groups. We’ve been serving along these lines for the past two years and are now seeking more ways and people that our Father would have us serve.
In addition to our work in Cavango, we also travel by car to four villages monthly to work in the health posts in these villages to specifically address difficult cases. We recently received word that the government of Huambo has prohibited us from working in all villages outside of the Cavango Mission and within their province (one of the four current visits). They said that our services “aren’t needed” at their health posts, but that people are welcome to go to the Cavango Mission to receive care (the mission is in Huambo Province). The biggest obstacle, however, for these rural people is transportation to receive help as to their physical and spiritual health.
As to the MAF ministry, we have been waiting for 9 months (after my visits with the respective provincial governors and vice-governors) for two other provinces to grant us official permission to work with MAF at 5 different extremely remote and needy sites within their provinces. After what happened recently in Mukwando (see “Mud, Rescue, Wisdom, Allegiance…”) we are now down to one site with the planes, after beginning with three and thinking that we would be traveling to at least six by now (based on the tremendous need and the enthusiastic local responses). We visited these other five “sure” sites and were received by the local people and health care workers with great enthusiasm. These sites are all hubs for two, large, rural, desperate people groups who are unreached and historically have been resistant to attempts to bring our Father to them.
There is obvious significant resistance somewhere in the government as to allowing us to help out in these most neglected areas. Each site has no physician and serves as a center for more than 20,000 rural people. One exception is Oncocua, which has over 40,000 people and one uncommitted Cuban physician who works as little as possible. When I’ve visited each of the provincial government offices, they’ve raved about how much they appreciate and need our work/help, and assured me that they would issue the official permissions immediately.
But the consistency and duration of the delays in issuing these simple documents in each province, combined with the Mukwando circus and the recent “stiff arm” from Huambo about the villages around Cavango, indicate an apparent deep-seated resistance to our work. It appears that they are offended that we think that their health posts need help. If you saw these health posts, you’d be amazed just how blind pride can be! The nurses have beautiful, servant hearts and are poorly trained and ill-equipped.
I’ve had some great meetings with our local pastor, Jeremias, and he’s pretty fired up. He is such a real deal as to his devotion to Jesus (he’s about my age and his testimony is in a previous post with his name in the title). He shared with me about conversations he’s had with God re our ministry (and our Father’s pleasure in what we are about) and I left the meetings so encouraged that he is with me in the “foxhole”. I love the guy and the feeling is obviously mutual. I’ve also met with Andre, a 75 y/o man who directs our Cavango clinic, and he was quite fired up, as well, and shared many stories of murders and negative government reactions to real believers (nominal “believers” are harmless “yes-men”) and Kingdom work over the years (none currently – only this deep-seated resistance). It is interesting that passionate, selfless lives have been an offense for two thousand years, while the church-going, lukewarm are seen as “good for our society”.
Jeremias and Andre are beautiful, Jesus/people-focused men and they love my ministry with MAF, my ministry in Cavango, and my ministry to the villages around Cavango and are passionate Jesus lovers and people lovers who want to see more desperate people (like them) served.
We all agreed to take this before our Father during our furlough and that only He can really open doors anyway. We agreed that we want to walk through only the doors that He would have us walk through and work in only the places of His choice.
I also have been in contact with our work’s director, Steve Foster, Sheila (our Angola SIM Director), the national Angolan church leaders and the MAF pilots/leadership and we are all praying and reconsidering the direction and strategy of our ministry, as our Father leads.
Our plan was to begin in the government health posts among desperate, unreached peoples, and we (I) didn’t anticipate the surprising governmental response and current place in which we find ourselves. The obstacles have reminded me to not act in my own wisdom or do what seems strategically best (independent of our Father), but to seek the plan our Father has for us, great or small. We see three other ways to reach the most needy in Angola and are praying for His direction and timing before proceeding.
We are all quite familiar with the fog in which we live and we all know that clarity can be a challenge. (1Cor 13.12). We don’t want to do good things in Angola, but what He wants, where He wants, how He wants, with whom He wants… We know we can do good works apart from Him, and we sure don’t want this…
Thank you for seeking our Father’s heart with us. We are so grateful for the (unseen) team that participates with us in every encounter.
Please forward any word or direction you sense from our Father.