By Cheryl Magness
On March 15, Tropical Cyclone Idai struck the eastern coast of South Africa. The president of Mozambique, where Idai made landfall, has estimated that more than 1,000 people lost their lives.
Damage to roads, crops and buildings is extensive, and a reported 2 million people have been affected. On March 27, the government of Mozambique declared a storm-related cholera epidemic.
To assist in the wake of this disaster, Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) World Relief and Human Care Disaster Response has issued grants for cyclone relief in both Mozambique and Malawi. The funds will be used to provide food, water, clothing, medicine, materials for rebuilding, seeds for planting new crops, and more.
The Mozambique relief project is being administered by President-Emeritus Rev. Dr. Carlos Walter Winterle of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil (IELB), currently serving as a coordinator of this work on behalf of the LCMS and other partners.
Winterle says the grant will “show God’s love in the midst of the chaos … witnessing also to the neighborhood that Jesus loves them.”
History of Mozambique Lutheran Church
Igreja Cristã da Concórdia de Moçambique (Concordia Lutheran Church in Mozambique) was registered with the government of Mozambique as an independent, autonomous Lutheran church body in 2018.
The church traces its roots to 2006, when Mozambique refugee Joseph Kembo Alfazema graduated from seminary, was ordained in Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC) and returned to Portuguese-speaking Mozambique to do mission work in his hometown of Vila de Sena along the Zambezi river.
In 2007, Alfazema met Winterle, who was then serving in the Free Evangelical Lutheran Synod in South Africa (FELSISA), and a collaboration on mission work in Mozambique was conceived by the FELSISA, IELB, LCC and LCMS. A Memorandum of Understanding among the four partners was signed in October 2010.
That same year, using the Portuguese IELB training materials, Winterle began a modular training program for eight pastoral candidates. When Alfazema had to return to Canada, the IELB sent the Rev. Andre Palmer to teach with Winterle.
After five years of preparation amid ongoing service in their congregations, those eight students were deemed ready for graduation and ordination. They graduated in 2015, after which a new class began. The class now has 30 candidates.
In 2015, Lutheran Heritage Foundation produced Luther’s Small Catechism in the local language of Chisena. In 2016, the church body held its first convention, and the seminary added 30 more students.
Today, the Mozambique church has 80 congregations and is still growing.
Posted April 15, 2019