One of the ways Food for the Hungry (FH) helps the most vulnerable people in the world is by equipping church leaders to address the physical and spiritual needs in their own lives and in their communities.
In Mozambique, FH started a church strengthening program in response to requests from local pastors for training on how to teach the Scripture accurately.
Just a few years ago, I met many of these pastors and their mentor, Tomas Zefanias. We all sat under a burly mango tree. The pastors – clad in worn-out shirts and faded jeans – were eager to talk about the impact of the program on them as leaders.
Zefanias is a Mozambican pastor who trained in a Bible school in Portugal. Aware of the frustrations of the village pastors, he partnered with FH to help them become more effective messengers of God’s transforming love.
Zefanias admitted that due to the lack of Bible training, the pastors would often mix biblical truths with indigenous beliefs in their preaching. “They struggled to differentiate between the old ways and the way of truth,” he shared.
“We used to do things on our own because we were not willing to work with other pastors outside our own denomination,” shared Bartholomew, one of the pastors.
“We did not know how to become real leaders in our own families and communities,” said Pastor Andre.
But after three years of training the pastors through seminars and by providing them with good teaching materials, many of them eventually became mentors to other church leaders in the neighboring villages.
When I asked them how the training impacted their ministries, the pastors blurted:
“The Bible seminars helped us understand various doctrinal issues.”
“Our churches have definitely been strengthened.”
“It helped me become a better leader.”
Because of the church strengthening program, the local pastors gained wisdom and understanding on how to become better leaders in their own families, communities and churches.
“Today, many pastors in Mozambique from all denominations and religious affiliations work and pray together,” Zefanias noted. “They are actively involved in helping people solve their physical problems; unlike before when they were only concerned about spiritual things.”
FH praises God for His work of transforming the lives of the village pastors. Still, there is more work to be done.
Would you help pray for the indigenous church leaders in Mozambique and around the world? Your support is an inspiration to them as well as a source of strength as they minister more effectively to those who are far from God.
Rez Gopez-Sindac is an Austin-based writer and editor covering faith, church management and global development.