The sprawling town of Angoche nestles on the northern coast of Mozambique, and is protected by an archipelago of 13 low lying islands, one of which was called Buzu. This island has been almost completed eroded by rising sea levels. and is now uninhabitable. It was home to a small community of Koti fishermen who became Followers of Jesus in the late 90’s, and then relocated to communities on the mainland and outlying islands, spreading the good news.
The Koti language was purely oral, but in 1996 a family from Sutton Coldfield went to live amongst them in Angoche and invested their lives to provide a Bible in their language. By the time we moved to Angoche in 2008 the translators had left the town but continued with local translators working remotely over a fragile internet connection. Julian wrote workshop materials for the book of Luke, and weekly leadership training sessions benefited from the Koti translation of such a pertinent book. When looking together at the story of Jesus catching net breaking loads of fish, the leaders said they had noticed they were catching more fish since becoming Followers of Isa. They were used to sailing between the islands and being caught in storms, and knew what the hot sand felt like under their feet. They would often say that it is not religion that saves you, be it Christianity or Islam, but Jesus.
When we left in 2009, Genesis, Luke, Jonah and Timothy had been published and distributed amongst a fast-growing Community of Faith, comprising more than 80 urban and rural churches (we called them Families of Faith). A literacy project was initiated, and lessons were based upon the only written Koti materials available, teaching hundreds of children to read and write in their first language.
During the pandemic, every day Koti leaders from Tarikhi Ya Haaki (TYH - The True Way) read from the Koti bible on the local radio station and provide hope and encouragement to what was once a town known as the main slaving port for Mozambique but is becoming known a place of freedom.
The community centre we finished in 2014 provides translation offies, literacy classrooms, a natural medicine clinic and a community hall which bustle with life and buildings which the people of Angoche use with pride.
The translation work of the New Testament is finished, with final checking and publishing commissioned a launch event is anticipated in March of next year. The combination of church planters from New Zealand and Japan and translators from the UK have catalysed an indigenous Community of Faith in what was an unreached people group. This now comprises 130 churches and about 11,000 have been baptised, all led by local leaders supported with prayer, finances and regular communication. For example in August funds were sent from River which enabled the roof to be replaced on one of the leader's homes, and we pass on the gratitude of Talsamo and Amina for your continued support. Additional funds have been sent from New Zealand on a monthly basis during the pandemic to help with emergency food provision, as prices of staples like bread and rice have doubled making them increasingly unaffordable. Talsamo tells me his family cannot afford to eat bread.
Future plans include the establishment of Esperanca (Hope) Football Academy on land already purchased opposite the community centre. A fundraising auction with the business community was held in Christchurch, New Zealand in August and raised over £6,500 towards earthworks and a perimeter wall. Four teams from TYH including a ladies team play regularly, and we see that football can be great for community and spiritual development.
So I think God uses families to transform communities, but to engage meaningfully often a personal sacrifice is needed. Honour and gratitude go to bible translators and church planters who continue to support the work in Mozambique, now extending their footprint and reaching other communities in northern Mozambique. We have been privileged to be a part of this continuing story, and invite you to be a part of this Koti Journey, considering how you might support initiatives that are transforming one of the poorest communities in the world. If you’d like to know more and would like to participate, pray or provide funds then contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Julian Bullen - Maidenhead