Last week the Bible School team traveled to Gurue, Mozambique to meet with the churches there and do the teacher refresher course for the teachers as they prepare to start this year’s classes. Mozambique was an incredibly beautiful country, with stunning landscapes and long stretches virtually untouched by civilization.
The journey itself was an adventure. From Zomba it was two hours to the border, where we spent a lengthy amount of time trying to get across, despite our paperwork being in order. From the border, it was a quick trip to the town of Milange to pick up some teachers there, and then eight hours through the Mozambican bush to Gurue.
We arrived late Monday evening, and after a wonderful meal we learned that the church who was hosting us was in the midst of some internal issues. We spent some time Monday evening learning about what was going on there, and trying to understand everyone’s side. Tuesday morning, after breakfast and more discussion, the team decided to put the teacher refresher course on hold while the church worked through the problems that were presented. We felt that church unity and reconciliation was more important than spending time on other things.
So it was with heavy hearts that we turned around Tuesday afternoon and began our return journey to Zomba. We did not spend the week in Gurue we had planned, but we felt that the short time spent with the churches there was beneficial.
It is not surprising to anyone who has ever been a part of the church that churches occasionally struggle together. Differences of opinion, doctrine, and personality all offer opportunities for disunity and discord. It can take effort, sometimes, for churches to be unified on issues they perceive to be important. Churches are different than fan clubs, where people come together because of similarities and can bond over the same thoughts and ideas. The church, on the other hand, is made up of diverse people from all backgrounds, tribes, ethnicities, at various stages of their spiritual journey, coming together in intentional community. In church the old adage, “You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family” comes true. So naturally, issues can arise.
It is sobering to realize, or rather remember, that the churches here are not immune from problems and temptations to divide because of differences. While it was, at first, discouraging to find the church struggling, we left feeling encouraged, knowing that as God works through this community, they will become a witness to the town of how God pursues his creation. God is unwilling to allow his people to stay in chaos, and actively searches out his people, so they will be reconciled with him and with each other.
After instructing the church and encouraging its members towards reconciliation, we left the church with the promise that we would return soon, and our prayer is that, when we do we will find a unified body of believers, excited to discover more about our God and how he loves the community there.