Shannon Weiss is a Prairie alumni and former staff member currently serving in Mozambique with SAM Ministries.
SAM Ministries’ agent in Mozambique (ASAM, or Associação Amor Moçambique) is registered nationally as a non-profit organization. Our mission is to love God and love the people of Mozambique so they can be empowered spiritually, physically, and economically to help reach and teach their own people.
Located strategically in the central province of Manica, our mission base is a 2350 acre farm, owned solely by the mission to enable our training and development initiatives. The land was purchased in 2004 and we are now in the process of establishing much needed infrastructure for the growing needs of our various programs (see Mozambique Projects).
Although much of our work is focused on and around the area we are located, our extension training efforts now reach into the four central provinces of the country; Manica, Sofala, Tete, and Zambezi Provinces.
As we seek to address the many challenges facing Mozambicans day to day, our strategy is to focus on the training and development of leaders who can impact many more than we can individually, and to focus on the care and development of children who without a doubt will have the greatest impact on the future success of Mozambique and her people.
The song notes of exotic birds provide the background music as God and I spend quiet moments together in the dawning light. Soon our team will join the African staff for morning devotions and share in their vibrant worship, complete with singing, drumming and dancing. Then we’ll talk over the day’s work and head out to our assignments.
It sounds so idyllic, but this morning the peacefulness seems at terrible odds with the turmoil in my heart. We have just heard that one of the young students in our school was sexually assaulted by someone in the community. This man already has four wives and yet felt free to steal the innocence of a fifteen-year-old girl.
I was astounded to discover that the family didn’t seem concerned whether the perpetrator was arrested or not. They only wanted to make sure he would be required to pay the going price for robbing their daughter of her virginity. There was no thought of justice for the victim, only of saving face and family honor. Cultural ramifications were once again far more complicated than I realized.
We were in the process of creating a club for young girls, a place where they could learn what it means to become a woman of God. Plans were progressing, but we had been too late to prevent this precious one from being abused. It would be so easy to hate this place, these beliefs and practices, these things that don’t need to be. But God
has placed a love in my heart for these people and so I struggle to comprehend their ways.
We were in the process of creating a club for young girls, a place where they could learn what it means to become a woman of God. Plans were progressing, but we had been too late to prevent this precious one from being abused. It would be so easy to hate this place, these beliefs and practices, these things that don’t need to be. But God has placed a love in my heart for these people and so I struggle to comprehend their ways.
Being a “people person” should have been in my favor, but it actually sometimes leaves me feeling a depth of loneliness that startles me. I long to make friends with those in our community, but most of them speak an unfamiliar local language. Even if they use Portuguese, deep conversations are almost impossible because I’m still a beginner. How can I join in their daily lives when we can’t even communicate?
And yet, to my surprise, just when I’m at my lowest God steps in and shows me that he can use me after all. It was my turn for staff devotions recently and, to my amazement, my words that just didn’t seem good enough became a challenge whose impact continues. Then one of the staff died suddenly and God put me in the right place to walk our team through their grief. Each time I lead a class or manage a conversation with someone, I see small glimmers of hope in spite of my weakness. When parents encourage their girls to get an education, when women who have lived hand-to-mouth begin saving for the future, it’s clear that change is happening and I’m privileged to have a front row seat. God is clearing my vision and re-inventing my expectations.
I will hold on to this: that the God who called me to this place will be faithful to use the gifts he has given me for his glory. When I’m tired and lonely and long for the familiar and the comfortable, he will give me the courage to persevere. As I let go of how I thought things were supposed to be and simply become available to him, he will finish what he started. I would expect nothing less.