Perspectives on the harvest-field
AS A PEOPLE GROUP the Nahara are rather an enigma. They are strong Muslim animists and have thwarted most mission attempts at conversion to Christ over the years. They have also rejected modern education and tend not to use modern medicine either.
The reality of this came harshly home to me when a fellow missionary and I visited a Nahara women who was in excruciating pain. She showed all symptoms of a ruptured intestine or burst appendix (the former is common when witch doctors give an overdose of muti) and despite the availability of our transport to a hospital, the lady refused. She further declined all offers of prayer. My friend told me that such cases occur when witch doctors explicitly forbid their patients to accept any form of help.
In 23 years of ministry to the people of Africa, I’ve seen people refuse medicine but never prayer. My missionary friend explained that the spiritual fear the Nahara live under is beyond our comprehension.
The different Christian works I witnessed are all aimed at setting people free from this fear. They are a beacon of light in an otherwise hopeless existence. Following is a brief summary:
Firstly there is a young South African couple who are translating the Bible into Makhua Nahara. Another young lawyer and his family from East Germany are busy doing evangelism by mixing the ancient African tradition of storytelling with the Muslim tradition of debate. They do this using Bible stories.
There are two other South African couples who are involved in church planting.
This is mainly a work focused on the Makhua of the area who are not Nahara and already have a church history and the Bible available in their dialect. It is an important work, as the churches that gain depth begin to reach out to their Nahara neighbours.
Another lady from Germany has started clinics that use natural medicines grown here in Mozambique. Through this she has gained acceptance from communities that would otherwise have remained closed. What I enjoy about her ministry is that she is able to show the love of Christ to people even before they consciously know who He is.
All of the above may seem like a lot but when one realises that this is close to the sum total of Christian work amongst a people 300 000 – 500 000 strong, it becomes rather small.
Grant and Riana have applied themselves to one main task – the evangelisation and discipleship of the unreached Makhua Nahara on the coast.