Although the JESUS film ministry showing the Gospel of Luke in the local language has been God-blessed all over the world, nowhere has it made a greater difference than in Mozambique. On the southeast coast of Africa, Mozambique’s 25 million people are ripe to hear the gospel of hope. A civil war had crippled the country and created widespread discouragement.
Mozambique Wesleyan Church had 49 churches located in only two of its eleven provinces. But in 2000, God ignited the heart of National Director of Evangelism and Church Growth Rev. Graça Nhathelo. He had a vision to reach the whole nation.
The JESUS film was introduced to Rev. Graça (pronounced GRAH-sah) and the other church leaders, and they decided to try it. In 2001, they sent a team to Zambia to be trained. Among those receiving the training was Rev. Graça.
Rev. Graça spent many hours praying over a map of Mozambique, plotting out the strategy for each province. In North America, its length would stretch from Florida to Ottawa, Canada. Graça’s God- given vision was put into action. The film was shown first in the two districts of Maputo and Gaza. Results were amazing as thousands in a single night would hear and see the gospel. New churches began to spring up as hundreds of people responded to the message, which they were seeing and hearing in their own language, many for the first time. Converts were discipled with the newly translated discipleship materials and gathered into fellowship groups which soon became fast-growing churches.
The Bible college in the city of Xai Xai (pronounced SHY-shy) has played a vital role in the vision that Rev. Graça Nhathelo had for the nine provinces to the north. As new believers were discipled, they sensed a call to ministry and were sent to Xai Xai. Many became church planters and were equipped to serve on JESUS film teams that were being sent into the new areas. These youthful evangelists became the cross- bearers for a nation that was finding new hope and truth.
Rev. Raul Diole, a former student of Emanuel Wesleyan Bible College (EWBC) in Swaziland, became a church planter in the Zambezia Province of Mozambique, where in 2000 there were just three preaching points. Today through the JESUS film team ministries, under the leadership of Rev. Diole, there are 88 churches divided up into three districts in Zambezia Province.
Similarly, Rev. Abel Nove led a JESUS film team to the province of Nampula in 2008, and today there are more than 60 Wesleyan churches there.
Evangelists and church planters have gone to places that were previously considered impossible. Muslim areas have seen thousands turn to Christ and many churches planted. Former Muslim imams (leaders) are now Wesleyan pastors. Literal miracles have been witnessed by thousands. Accompanying the JESUS film showings, people have been raised from physical death by prayer, and the demon- possessed have been delivered.
In Nampula Province, Abilio Assuate was a demon-possessed man chained to a tree for many years. His family and the whole village feared him. His brother saw the JESUS film, in which a demon- possessed man is rescued by Christ, and asked the team to come help Abilio. For three days, they prayed for the chained, filthy, bleeding, and bruised Abilio, who was not even in his right mind. But the team was powerfully inspired by the Holy Spirit to persist. Incredibly, on the third day, Abilio was delivered from the demons that enslaved him. Released from the chains and the darkness, he began to preach, saying, “I am the one who was in chains, but now you can see I am free!
Today, Abilio is a pastor who has started ten churches and many have come to faith through his preaching. God has created a church-planting movement in Mozambique through the JESUS film ministry and Spirit-filled men and women. From 49 churches in two provinces in 2000, the number has grown to more than 250 churches in all eleven provinces. In addition, they have launched missionary work in Malawi and Tanzania.
Around the world, 46 Wesleyan teams were deployed during just the last three years. From 2012–2015 they showed the JESUS film to almost 1.5 million people, and more than 500,000 responded to invitations. As a result, 482 Wesleyan churches were planted. An additional 532 preaching points were started, and 2,771 new cell groups were formed to disciple new followers of Jesus.
Looking forward, Global Partners is working with the international churches to see 1,000 newly-ordained pastors by 2020 and 200 new trainers trained. The JESUS Film Partnership is part of that initiative to equip as many workers as possible with the expertise and tools that the JESUS film ministry offers. Support of the JESUS Film Partnership helps make this happen.
Rev. Graça Nhathelo, who is now the national superintendent of Mozambique, is often heard telling his pastors and Bible school students, with tears in his eyes and a quiver on his lips, “We do this work, not to be praised by men or to make our church great, but because people need to believe in Jesus and be saved.”