Jean and I were so privileged to be on “boat” outreach with the Bakers recently! We are amazed by our wonderful God who transformed this tiny, forgotten village on the island coast of Mozambique. We know Heidi’s update will inspire you to press past all the obstacles and frustrations in pursuit of His Kingdom dreams which every seeking heart has received!
Greetings from Iris to all our friends and family around the world; blessings, joy and peace.
As another wonderful outreach in the north of Mozambique concludes, I want to thank all of our amazing donors once again. Your love for the poor and your remembrance for the downcast, the orphan, and the widow are enormously appreciated. Without your generosity, it would be impossible for us to continue reaching the lost and feeding the hungry. You have a great part of all the fruit from this Iris family.
We have just returned from ministering in some of the northern coastal villages, where a deaf mute was miraculously healed on the first evening. As always, it was a truly awesome experience. Everyone in the village had known this person, so the healing was greeted with widespread excitement, exuberant cheering and clapping. Now the whole village wants to follow Jesus!
We stayed at this village overnight, and began our next day fresh at 4:30 am, when the whole village awakened. That morning we held a beautiful wedding at a church in a mud hut. The church family and all the local children sang and danced loudly in celebration of this couple’s union. After that, we went to visit people in their homes and pray for the sick. God continues to do glorious miracles among us! So many people were hungry for spiritual food, we might almost have forgotten how hungry they were for natural food — but after breakfast we also saw children scraping out the bottom of our pans after the pastors and visitors had eaten. The Lord again put it strongly my heart that love looks like something. So we prepared lunch, and everyone in the village who was hungry came and ate. We left solar-powered audio Bibles and a soccer ball, then we had to leave for another village.
The next village was one we had planted a church in several years ago. The pastor there has been through two training sessions at Iris, and is doing well. No words are enough to thank you all for helping us train these young, motivated Mozambican leaders! We won’t stop until every village and tribe is reached by the unending, bottomless, ceaseless love of Jesus. His love compels us. We have been so blessed by your ongoing generosity — God bless you all! And we ask you to remember us in your prayers.
Now I would like to share another story, one that is really close to my heart. In part it is about the boat that took us on our outreach, but it is really about Tenacious Love.
One day my husband, Rolland, was flying me in our little bush plane over a certain area of Mozambique. I noticed that there were no roads at all, but I asked Rolland to take me as low as the plane could possibly go, and when he did I looked down and saw village after village passing below me. And I started sobbing! I was sobbing because there were no roads, and it seemed like there would be no natural way for me to get to those people. I was weeping because I have read the Book, and I know my God — I can’t imagine anyone on this planet not getting the opportunity to know this beautiful Savior! I can’t imagine not doing everything I can to give them the chance. I wept and asked God what I should do. And He said, “get a boat!” So, we began to pray and believe for a boat.
For two years I was told again and again how impossible it was to get a boat to Pemba. Likewise, many of you reading this are chosen and called by God for great tasks, but there may be a lot of people telling you why you cannot go, why it is impossible for you to do what God is telling you to. They may try to explain it to you in detail. They may quote books about what they think we cannot do, and what they think God cannot do. I have read those kinds of books. But the Book tells us what we can do! I know my God, and if He says “get a boat,” He means that we should really get a boat.
So — we got a boat!
The government said that we could not bring it into the country without paying a seventy percent import duty. God provided, and I said, “Here is the money; give me the boat!” No one is going to stop me! Actually, I got really angry at the devil. How could he think he could possibly stop us? When you are in love, you are unstoppable!
It took two years and ten days for the boat to finally get here. On the way, while it was being hauled overland on rough roads, the transporters damaged the hull and put cracks in both the engines! At one point the donors who had paid for the boat came to see us, and it was still just sitting, waiting for repairs, covered in dust and dirt in the backyard of a non-Christian man who owns most of the city. Their investment was not looking very impressive. I thought, “God, this is not what I had planned.”
Sometimes it is like that. It looks like your vision is in the camp of someone who doesn’t even know God. It looks like your vision has been captured and carried away. It looks like it is full of dust, covered over, and without any fuel. And yet God says: “Believe what I said! And do not stop!” Love is tenacious. Faith is tenacious. Love doesn’t give up, even when the engines are toast and you have to pay seventy percent duty! Do not stop short of your promise. Do not stop short of your destiny. Do not stop short of His glory.
I had to keep searching for somebody to fix that boat, and even some of the people I love most told me repeatedly that it could not be done. Finally, I found a Filipino man who said he could repair it — but it took another year just to get the parts! After that, I was told that the hull was too deep, and I wouldn’t be able to get close to those villages because their coasts were so shallow. So I asked them to get me a dingy. I was told, once again, that this couldn’t be done. For some reason we couldn’t get a dingy in Mozambique. But I was convinced that there surely must be a dingy available somewhere! I had seen them! Someone said to me, “You just don’t stop, do you?”
I cannot stop! Everybody needs to know! Every tribe, every nation, every tongue! I am a woman possessed by His heart for the lost. Wholly possessed by the one I am in love with!
After another few months, they finally found me a dingy somewhere. And the day we finally took the boat on our first outreach, one of the engines blew. But the other one worked!
Of course it would have been nicer to have two. But since we had the one, I told the captain to keep going. When we got to that first village, by boat and then by dingy, everyone who lived there came running to us. And I was able to tell them that I had come with good news!
I shared every word that I knew in their tribal tongue of Makua. They had never heard the name of Jesus before that day. We sat in a little carpenter’s shop, which consisted of a few sticks and a ripped piece of plastic, and shared all about Jesus while some of the villagers made furniture. Everyone came. I shared, I sang, and I gave them some little solar-powered audio New Testaments in Makua. When I asked them who wanted to receive Jesus, they all said yes!
What if we had stopped short? What if we had given up?
Do not be stopped by difficulty! Never stop short of what God has promised you! He has a destiny for you.
A few months later we went back to this little village, and even before I had the chance to get out of the dingy, almost the whole village had run up to me, singing songs and quoting scriptures they had memorized from their solar Bibles! What a joy! God has made Himself known to this village, which had been totally forgotten by the outside world. We are now in the process of building a church and a school there, the first of either that this village has ever seen.
What a privilege we have, to share the gospel about Christ Jesus! Oh thank you Jesus! We get to be part of bringing people into His presence! We get to give our little lives. Without Him we are just dry twigs. But He calls us to fruitfulness, to intimacy, and to fearless, tenacious love. Whatever it costs… we count it all joy!
Love and blessings,