Cross cultural ministry for Francois and Nadia already started when they were living in South Africa and ministered in the Garden-Route area where Francois was a forestry manager and Nadia a teacher.
In February 1997 they moved to Mozambique to minister in the National Church as sent ones from the Church in South Africa. For most of their first term (‘97-2003) they worked as members of a multi-disciplinary Church Planting team, but were also extensively involved with inter-agency consulting, training and teaching within the National Church in many of the 11 provinces of Mozambique.
After training at NTM UK we joined the Mozambique team towards the end of 2004. In June 2005 we started with phase one, church planting amongst the Macua-Moniga, or Mwinika as they call themselves. Up until now the Mwinika has resisted the Gospel and there existed no culturally relevant witness of Jesus Christ in their heart language. No one understands that Christ has already paid the price… for them also. NTM has placed two families amongst these people to bear witness of Him that has done it all: the Hendersons and the Hattinghs (the Moniga team).
During the first few months, while living in tents, we worked very hard on building the structures we need for living and working. We also worked on our relationships with the people and local leadership. After three months we could move into our little wattle-adobe house and kick-off with part time culture language acquisition (CLA). Yet, as we are working in a fairly remote part of Mozambique, we still had much to do w.r.t. creating the infrastructure that will make our life living in stead of just surviving. We had to create our own means for electricity and water as well as building a store room, school and office rooms and a workshop for maintenance.
Phase One Church Planting
The first phase in church planting is what we call pre-evangelism. In this phase we build trusting relationships with the people of the community we live in. We establish why we are there and study their culture and language. This usually takes about three years and we are more than half way through this phase.
In this phase we also start to address the worldview of the people by asking questions that provokes them to think about why they act and believe the way they do. In this way we had the opportunity during a 40 days fast to say that we are “Taliban Isa Almashich” (followers of Jesus the Messiah) and that we do not have to depend on our “works” to get us into “paradise”. Although we can not delve deeper into this for now, we do get to ask them why do they fast and what they aim to reach by doing so.
Translating the Scriptures
For planting a mature church amongst the Mwinika it is crucial that they have the Word, or a greater portion thereof, in their mother tongue (Emwinika). We estimate that more than 95% of the Mwinika make use of scriptures in Arabic and most of the others in Lomwe. None of these languages speak to the heart of these people. Up to now, Emwinika was an unwritten language. In this we had the challenge of developing an alphabet that will be recognized by the government. We are also supported by SIL (Wycliffe) translation consultants that help us through the process of phonetics, phonemics and orthography. We had the privilege to attend a Team Translation Workshop of NTM that helped us to gear our language learning towards producing Scriptures in Emwinika that accurately communicate the literal meaning of the message of God’s Word. We want the Emwinika translation to be used of God to engage with, and minister into, the lives of every Mwinika who seek to know who God is and how He relates to every created being.
CLA (Culture Language Acquisition):
In NTM we greatly value ministering His-story in the mother tongue of the people with a deep understanding of culture to prevent misunderstandings that could lead to syncretism. Although we started part time CLA during 2006, it was only until February 2007 that we could actually focus all our attention fully on the study of culture and language. NTM has CLA consultants that regularly visit us to do checks, give advice and encourage us in this foundational phase of the ministry. Our CLA proficiency is evaluated against an international (F.A.I.R.) standard that is divided into 4 main stages. It is only when we reach Capable High (end of the third stage) that we will be cleared to minister the Word. We need a lot of Grace and Mercy to reach this high standard in culture language proficiency!
In a “normal” CLA day Francois would try to spend at least 4 hours participating within the context of some or the other daily living event of the Mwinika. During this time he tries to learn new language and gain a better understanding of the culture. All new data gets recorded in-field and taken home to be processed into bite sized and manageable chunks.
The processed material now has to be learned and practised. This gets done through repetitive listening at recordings of natural text as well as spending time with a Culture Language Helper (CLH) practicing and drilling language features. Francois then see which communication tasks need more work and plan his next day’s activities accordingly.
Emwinika Literacy Project:
To be able to read the Bible in their own language the local people first will have to learn to read and write in Emwinika. We want to develop the material for this project with the people so that ownership of Emwinika literacy will remain with them even after our role in it has been fulfilled. We were blessed with NTM consultants that came to help us in developing the first draft of the Emwinika Primers.