Bishop Joaquin Nhanala of Mozambique (center) joins missionary Blair Moses Kamanga (far right) and Pastor Nhar (left) to marvel at the magnificent cabbage heads grown by farmers in their agricultural program. PHOTO: COURTESY OF NORTH MOZAMBIQUE ANNUAL CONFERENCE
By Blair Moses Kamanga
October 28, 2022 | CHIMOIO, MOZAMBIQUE
When I received an email confirming my selection as a missionary to serve in Mozambique, I couldn’t believe it. When I arrived, I faced different challenges, including language, since I come from an English-speaking country. The driver who was waiting for me at the airport only spoke Portuguese; we traveled about 700km without talking to each other! However, everything was set for me to begin work as an agriculture coordinator with the North Mozambique Annual Conference, where I work with rural communities to bring sustainability in the church.
Just as most missionaries serving in unfamiliar countries, at first, I faced an identity and productivity crisis. I believe that my level of anxiety was exacerbated because I had only limited contact with local people and partners. Mozambique issued a total COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. As I was going through this hard time, God reminded me through the words of John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” I also gained confidence and morale after remembering the word of God in Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.”
My first demonstrations were in Massinga, by which time I had learned both the local language and Portuguese. My main responsibilities were to organize and train farmers on appropriate methods of farming and conduct practical demonstrations. I met different people of different backgrounds, mainly poor farmers. The words of Psalms 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you,” helped me to build relationships with the farmers and encourage them to work hard.
Despite agricultural research and innovations in technology, farming is also an act of faith. You plant a seed, wait for plants to mature and then harvest a crop. You care for your livestock, and they provide you with offspring. Much of what happens in between is out of our control. Yet, we never lose hope, because God reminded us in Deuteronomy 28:12: “The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.”
The communities in which I work are located close to the Indian Ocean. The temperature is hot and dry, and the soil is sandy. Sometimes at night it rains, which is vitally important for agriculture production. In Mozambique, church agricultural projects are essential for generating income and providing nutritious food for orphanages, clinics and other church-related institutions. I play a vital role in coordinating and overseeing agriculture projects and programs and training local farmers. Yet, sometimes, what I do seems insignificant and what I offer to the people seems to make no change at all. I believe this kind of self-doubt was intensified because of my limited human interaction during pandemic restrictions.
During our meetings, we pray together with the communities. Singing praises together, I feel the presence of the Lord. At one point I realized, my parents and friends back home in Malawi could never imagine where I am at this moment. Only God knows where I am, and God is here with me. I was overwhelmed by this revelation. I felt God’s presence not only with my rational thought but with my heart and soul. God spoke to me, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you [for this mission].” (John 15:16) It refreshed my call and identity as a missionary.
Missionaries cannot genuinely be productive apart from God because the branches bear fruit by being connected to the vine. I learned to shift my focus from myself, remembering God wanted me to remain in him. With this understanding, fruit will naturally be borne as an outcome.
Blair Moses Kamanga serves as the agriculture coordinator for the Mozambique North Annual Conference. He comes from Malawi and is currently based in Chimoio, Mozambique. Scripture references are from the New International Version of the Bible.
Global Ministries missionaries are a tangible connection between The United Methodist Church and mission. Through denominational or ecumenical ministries, missionaries bear witness to God’s presence all around the world. They are called by God and sent out to serve by the church, usually placed in a new cultural context beyond their country of origin. Missionaries engage in ministry that is defined by mutuality and partnership, seeking to expand the mission of God already present and active in people and places.
Support the ministries of missionaries working around the world.